Sunday, 18 March 2012

Argentina: Children of disappeared sent to home

Pagina/12 carries a desperately sad interview today with María Ramírez, who was sent with her siblings to a children's home in 1977, aged four, after her mother was detained by the armed forces. Her father was in prison at the time, and despite the fact that an aunt wanted to take the three children, judge Marta Pons (now deceased) said "They're the children of a Paraguayan montonero who challenged the national constitution and doesn't deserve to get them back".

The children were then sent to a home, where their names were changed and they were ordered to call the couple that run the place "mum" and "dad". Ramírez tells a horrific story of the seven years of "hell" that followed, with insufficient food, inadequate education and sexual abuse by the home owner and his son. Eventually, she was found by the aunt who had wanted custody, emigrated to Sweden and was reunited with her father. But this is not a "happy every after" story. She speaks clearly of the terrible, and ongoing, pyschological consequences of her childhood - there could hardly be stronger proof that the crimes of the dictatorship are not finished, but ongoing.

“Era un infierno y yo me sentía enterrada viva” (Pagina/12)

I did a bit of searching for the judge involved in the case and found some other, equally damning, testimony about her complicity with the regime. A former assistant related that two of the founding members of the Grandmothers of the Plaza de Mayo came to visit Pons, trying to find out what had happened to Emiliano Ginés, a nine month old with Down's syndrome.

"It was the old women," the assistant, María Felicitas Elías, heard Pons saying to Buenos Aires police chief Ramon Camps. "I told them I didn't know anyone about the boy they were searching for". She then ripped up the documentation the Grandmothers had left and threw it away. The baby was kept in the hospital Sor María Ludovica and died there some months later.

Las complicidades de la jueza Pons (Pagina/12)
Denuncian a una jueza (La Nacion)

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