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Christmas letdown: stolen child was not Argentine activist’s granddaughter


Clara Anahi Mariani

Clara Anahi Mariani

It was a Christmas gift gone bad: the woman thought to be the lost granddaughter of an activist who searches for babies stolen during Argentina’s 1976-1983 military dictatorship was someone else.

Two genetic tests showed that the 39 year-old woman in question is not the granddaughter of Maria “Chicha” Mariani, one of the founders of the Grandmothers of the Plaza de Mayo, the government said Friday.

Such stories revive deep emotions in Argentina, where the wounds of the so-called “Dirty War” have not completely healed.

Babies born in captivity to political prisoners or orphaned by assassinations were given to families sympathetic to the regime or even taken in by their parents’ killers.

Mariani’s granddaughter, Clara Anahi Mariani, was abducted at three months old when regime agents killed her mother.

On Christmas Eve a statement from the Anahi Foundation, which Mariani created in 1989 after stepping down as president of the Grandmothers group, said DNA testing had confirmed with 99.9 percent certainty that the woman identified as Clara Anahi was Mariani’s granddaughter.

That DNA test was carried out privately by the woman, who has not been named.

However two DNA tests — one in early 2015 and the other made public Friday — shows no relationship between the two women, said Pablo Parenti, who heads the government office that searches for children kidnapped during the dictatorship.

The second test was carried out by the National Genetic Data Bank (BNDG), the only institution that provides official results for such cases.

“Both reports are conclusive in showing that there is no relationship between the genetic profile of this young woman and the Chicha Mariani family group, nor with the other families that are still looking for abducted children,” read the statement.

Mariani, 92, urged “caution” in a separate statement, saying that the results of the second test needed to be confirmed.

Mariani will hold a press conference on Saturday to explain what happened, her biographer Juan Martin Ramos Padilla said in a statement.

An estimated 500 babies were stolen by Argentina’s military regime, which abducted, tortured and killed opponents and suspected sympathizers.

Some 30,000 people were killed or “disappeared” during the dictatorship.

In 2012, former dictators Jorge Videla, who has since died, and Reynaldo Bignone were sentenced to 50 years and 15 years in prison, respectively, over the regime’s theft of babies.

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