By Marcela Gabioud, additional material and translation by María Teresa Aveggio
“I was a lower middle class woman, who grew up in relatively good times – I would have never imagined that I was going to dedicate all my life to this struggle.”
These are the words used by Estela Barnes de Carlotto, President of the Grandmothers of Plaza de Mayo, to describe herself and her life before the 1976 coup in Argentina. Grandmothers of Plaza de Mayo (Madres y Abuelas de Plaza de Mayo) is a human rights organisation with the aim of finding the babies stolen during the Argentine repression.
Carlotto referred to the organization’s struggle to search for truth about what happened to more than 500 babies born of women held in captivity by the Argentinean military in the years following the coup. The children were taken from their mothers and registered as other people’s children. Plaza de Mayo is the square in front of Argentina’s Presidential Palace, where every week the mothers and grandmothers, wearing their trademark white scarf embroidered with the names of their children, gather in silence.
Carlotto, one of the keynote speakers at WACC’s World Congress in 2001, is the character at the centre of the film Verdades Verdaderas which received the WACC-SIGNIS 2012 Human Rights Award. WACC General Secretary, Rev. Dr Karin Achtelstetter and Secretary General of SIGNIS/International, Alvito De Souza, announced the award at a joint meeting held in April at the WACC global office in Toronto, Canada. http://www.waccglobal.org/component/content/article/3013:award-given-to-film-about-the-grandmothers-of-the-plaza-de-mayo-.html .
The award ceremony held in Buenos Aires, Argentina July 21 was attended by Carlotto herself and the director of the film, Nicolás Gil. It was also attended by WACC President, Dr Dennis Smith, former WACC General Secretary, Rev. Carlos Valle, Vice President of SIGNIS/ International, Gustavo Andujar and President of SIGNIS/Argentina, Rocco Oppedisano.
|WACC President, Dr Dennis Smith (left) at the ceremony
(photo: WACC-Latin America)
Carlotto’s story represents the struggle of many women whose children were kidnapped during the repression. About 400 are still missing while around 100 have been found living without knowing that they were born of the captive mothers and registered as other people’s children.
Carlotto’s daughter, for example, was detained towards the end of 1977. Six months later Carlotto was informed that the daughter was pregnant. Then in 1978 she was informed that her daughter had died and was allowed to bury her. Her daughter’s child, born in prison, has never been found and the search continues until today.
Speaking at the ceremony, Gil, the film director, said that his association with the Grandmothers of Plaza de Mayo goes back several years when he directed a short film about one of the children that was found by the grandmothers.
“Carlotto represents all the grandmothers who have had the courage to transform their pain and loss of their grandchildren into love and courage, the strength to continue with the struggle. It is also significant that the women were the first to voice their opposition to the military and that they were able to find 105 of the [disappeared] children”
Verdades verdaderas (True truths) Argentina, 2011 / 96 min. / Colour / Director: Nicolás Gil Lavedra / Producer: Fernando Sokolowicz / Script: María Laura Gargarella y Jorge Maestro / Cinematography: Hugo Colace / Editing: Alberto Ponce / Music: Nicolás Sorín / With Susú Pecoraro, Alejandro Awada, Inés Efron, Laura Novoa.
View interviews and comments at the ceremony here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XA9saM-9-Cw&feature=relmfu&fb_source=messagehttp://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XA9saM-9-Cw&feature=relmfu&fb_source=message