Forced Adoption Controversy Raging In Argentina

by Gopalan on  December 30, 2009 at 11:09 AM General Health News
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 Forced Adoption Controversy Raging In Argentina
Controversy over the forced adoption of children of political prisoners between 1976 and 1983 has intensified in Argentina - heirs to a powerful media empire Clarin are now caught in the web.

Some question whether they too could have been abducted from the prison in those terrible years when the country was under a nasty dictatorship, and a judge has ordered the heirs to take DNA tests. Babies abducted from prison were often given to families considered loyal to the military.

Rights groups believe the two children of media mogul Ernestina Herrera de Noble were taken from political prisoners who gave birth in custody.

Felipe and Marcela were adopted by Ms Herrera de Noble, heading the Clarin group, in 1976.

They both gave their blood samples at a federal forensics agency, their lawyer said.

They made no comment after giving the sample, but a spokesperson said the family had nothing to hide.

The move to take the sample at the agency rather than the state-run National Bank of Genetic Data - which holds DNA samples of families of the disappeared - has angered campaign groups.

The Grandmothers of the Plaza de Mayo group, which seeks to find some 500 children born to prisoners or abducted along with their parents during the 1976-1983 dictatorship, has demanded that the DNA be collected at the data bank.

The group's founder, Estela de Carlotto, said on Tuesday that the tests would not be valid and said they would take further legal action to ensure a fully independent investigation.

Last month, the Argentine Congress backed a proposal from the Grandmothers and authorized the forced extraction of DNA from adults who may be the children of political prisoners - even when they don't want to know.

"The second I saw Martín, I knew he was my brother," recalls Mauricio Amarilla-Molfino. "I didn't need to see the DNA results. Just like me and my brothers, he has the same ears!"

Smiles broke out amidst the emotionally charged atmosphere in the offices of the Abuelas de la Plaza de Mayo (Grandmothers of the Plaza de Mayo) in Buenos Aires in November last.
The three Amarilla-Molfino brothers did not know their mother had given birth to a fourth son. The three older brothers had grieved the "disappearance" of their parents, Guillermo and Marcela, by the military dictatorship that ruled Argentina from1976 to 1983. Yet evidence that came to light just three months ago revealed that Marcela had given birth to a fourth son - Martín - in 1979, while she was held prisoner at the clandestine detention center, Campo de Mayo.

Twenty-nine years later, Martín Amarilla-Molfino was united with his three elder brothers, along with aunts and uncles, and saw a photo of his parents for the very first time.

It was Abuelas who made this emotional meeting possible. They have worked tirelessly for over 32 years, searching for the "missing grandchildren" - the children of the disappeared, children whose identity was falsified by the military. The Abuelas estimate there are approximately 500 cases.

Along with the Madres (Mothers) de la Plaza de Mayo, the Abuelas are continuing symbols of resistance to the legacy of the dictatorship.

"We were handed over like puppies to different families," said congressional deputy Victoria Donda in her speech to Congress during the DNA law debate. Donda was born at the infamous detention center used during the dictatorship, the Navy School of Mechanics (ESMA), and handed over to another family when her parents were disappeared.

She also touched on a particularly sensitive issue surrounding the Abuelas' search. "It took me eight months to decide to take a DNA test. It is torture waiting for the parents that raised you - who you love - to die, so that you can meet your family and find out about your real parents."

In some cases investigated by Abuelas, the children involved - now adults in their 30s - do not want to take a DNA test for fear they would be betraying the parents who raised them.

Yet one aspect about the debate remains incontrovertible - the falsification of a child's identity is a crime. In 83 of the 98 cases of missing grandchildren found by the Abuelas, the families that raised the children were in part responsible for, or at least knew about, the disappearance of the child's real parents, writes Joel Richards on NACLA, a website dedicated to Latin American affairs.
Speaking of the decision to give DNA or not, one deputy during the debate in Congress spoke of Argentine society's need to redress the issue. "The truth is a collective obligation, not an individual decision."

The law has not been without its critics and opponents, though.  In a survey conducted on the website of the conservative newspaper La Nación, 77% of its readers were against the law.

Elisa Carrió, leader of the centrist Radical Civic Union, describes the DNA Law as "pure fascism," and claims that the law is politically motivated, stemming from the government's battle with the media group Clarín.

Source: Medindia

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