At an emotional press conference this week, the Grandmothers of Plaza de Mayo introduced Adriana, the 126th person whose parents were forcibly disappeared during the country’s last military dictatorship to recover their identity.
The last years of Adriana’s life, a 40-year-old lawyer, had been difficult. But on Tuesday, at the headquarters of the Grandmothers of Plaza de Mayo in the nation’s capital, she was all smiles.
Adriana had found what she had been searching for: the knowledge of who she really is. She is the daughter of forcibly disappeared persons, one of the hundreds of babies stolen during the last military dictatorship (1976-1983) that the Grandmothers have been searching so long to find.
“I am happy. I’m full. It’s not just a piece, it completes the whole jigsaw. My life is complete,” Adriana said during a press conference seated alongside Estela Barnes de Carlotto, the president of Grandmothers of Plaza de Mayo. “I’m 40 years old and I have a grandmother – and she’s beautiful,” she laughed. Adriana’s grandmother, Blanca Díaz de Garnier, is 86 years old. She lives in Entre Ríos. It was Barnes de Carlotto who told her on Monday that her long search was over.
“Her family was one of the first to report the case to Grandmothers,” Barnes de Carlotto said at Tuesday’s press conference. Adriana is the biological daughter of Violeta Ortolani and Edgardo Garnier. Both were activists in the Montoneros, the armed Peronist leftist group. Violeta studied chemistry at the Universidad Nacional de La Plata, where she met Edgardo – who was from Entre Ríos and studied engineering. She worked as a maid at a children’s hospital. They were married in October 1976 in the city of Bolívar.Violeta was 23 years old and eightmonths pregnant by December 14,1976, when she was kidnapped in La Plata. She planned to name her daughter Vanessa.
Edgardo was kidnapped on 8 February, 1977, while he was looking for his wife and their baby. Their relativeswere unable to find out where they were taken, nor whether Violeta had given birth to her baby.
Adriana’s birth certificate was signed by obstetrician Juana Elena Arias de Franicevich, who passed away in 1995. The doctor also signed the birth certificates of other newborns snatched during the last dictatorship. The babies were born in different clandestine detention centres that operated throughout the province of Buenos Aires, one of the reasons why it is hard for investigators to determine if Arias de Franicevich was linked to a particular torture camp, or if she had ties with the de facto authorities of the time.According to information published by the Attorney General’s Office, Arias de Franicevich signed the birth certificate of Ana Libertad, the granddaughter of the founder of Grandmothers of Plaza de Mayo, Alicia Zubasnábar de la Cuadra. Arias de Franicevich also authenticatedthe certificate of Martín, the grandson of Delia Giovanola, one of the first members of the association now led by Barnes de Carlotto. The same happened with Maximiliano Menna, another who recovered his identity last year.
Adriana’s birth certificate was signed in Wilde, in the south of Greater Buenos Aires. The family who raised her had always lived in Buenos Aires City. Arias de Franicevich had a private hospital at 6180 Mariano Moreno Street in Wilde, Avellaneda, where she worked with Jorge Bergés, another obstetrician who served in different clandestine detention centres in Buenos Aires province.
Bergés was reported by Adriana Calvo, the first witness in the 1985 Junta trial, for having assisted at the birth of her daughter Teresa in the so-called ‘Pozo de Banfield,’ another clandestine detention centre.
Adriana contacted the Grandmothers of Plaza de Mayo with doubts about her real identity some time ago. An aunt had told her that she was not the daughter of the couple who raised her, after her non-biological parents passed away. The first test, however, did not show a match with the samples stored in the National Genetic Data Bank (BNDG, to use its Spanish acronym). But when her grandmother’s sample was incorporated and after further analysis, it was confirmed: she was found to be the daughter of forcibly disappeared persons.
On Monday, Adriana received a phone call from the National Commission for the Right to Identity (Conadi). They asked her to go to their headquarters, but wouldn’t say any more on the phone. Accompanied by a co-worker, she took the subway and arrived at the organisation’s headquarters. She was told she had a family looking for her. Adriana admitted on Tuesday that she had hesitated about taking part in the press conference, but eventually changed her mind, thinking her story may help others with doubts to begin their own journey.
“I’m happy,” she said on Tuesday as she faced the press. “This time they couldn’t. Love overcomes hate. Always.”