Sunday, 17 July 2011

Argentina: NEGATIVE

The results are out, and they're negative.

Yes, this is a sentence I had hoped not to write. The DNA of Marcela and Felipe Noble, the adopted children of Ernestina Herrera de Noble, has been compared against the samples in the Argentine national genetic database set up in the aftermath of the dictatorship, and no match has been found.

Of course, this does not mean that the Nobles are NOT children of the disappeared, as not every family has general material in the bank. There are still "irregularities" in the manner of their adoption. But there is still no concrete evidence of their biological families.

This is undoubtedly a blow for the Grandmothers in their most high-profile case. They have been fighting for this for a very long time and they undoubtedly believed (as do I, incidentally) that they had strong ground for their suspicion. They have called for investigations to continue. Associated Press explains how this could happen:

So far, the DNA of Marcela and Felipe Noble has been compared only to samples from the families of people known to have been detained in 1975 and 1976. While their official identity documents say they were born in March and July 1976, respectively, rights groups allege their adoptions were irregular and the birth dates could have been invented to obscure their origin.

Also, the National Gene Bank is constantly being updated with new samples despite the military junta's efforts to remove any trace of their opponents. This year alone the Grandmothers group sought court orders to open 40 more graves to collect more DNA.

"The National Bank of Genetic Data communicated last night that, in three of the 55 families whose genetic profile was compared to that of Marcela, it can't be determined whether or not there's a biological link with the young woman, and that parentage also could not be determined with one of the 57 families compared to the profile of Felipe," the Grandmothers announced Saturday.

"The genetic information of these three families must be completed to determine whether or not Felipe and Marcela maintain parentage with them," the group said, adding that many families don't know if their daughters were pregnant when they disappeared.

No DNA match for Argentine publisher's children (AP)

This is also explained in greater detail in Pagina/12 in an interview with the Abuelas' lawyer, Alan Iud:

"Tenemos que esperar el resto de los resultados" (Pagina/12)

Clarin, Argentina's largest circulation newspaper which is owned by Herrera de Noble, is predictably reporting the results as a victory against government persecution.

In a piece headlined "Ten years, four samples and unprecedented persecution", the paper describes the attempts to discover the truth about the Nobles' origins as "harassment" and claims that the two offered their DNA willingly as far back as 2003. It tracks the judicial to-ing and fro-ing that led to the failed DNA samples of last year, and eventually to these ones.

Diez años, cuatro muestras y una persecución inédita

Clarin group heirs DNA-test negative to 1975/76 families, victims of dictatorship (Mercopress)

Right-leaning paper La Nacion takes the same tack, writing in an editorial that the negative result is "proof" that the case was politically motivated and claiming that the government has attracted criticism "from all sides" for its role in the case.

Caso Noble Herrera: ADN negativo (La Nacion)
Unánime crítica de la oposición al Gobierno por el caso Noble (La Nacion)

I think it's a shame that this case has become inextricably tied up with the political situation in Argentina. To an extent it's inevitable as the issues are political, but the Abuelas' struggle for justice pre-dates the Kirchner regime (Nestor, as well as Cristina).

So there we have it: it's not quite the end of the story, as undoubtedly some investigations will continue, but a huge milestone has been passed in the Noble case, and they have not been definitively identified as disappeared children.

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