The World

'Stolen Babies' Trial Awaits U.S. Documents

Monday, January 23, 2012

Argentina's Grandmothers of Plaza de Mayo think a trial now underway could reunite them with stolen grandchildren. A key ally is U.S. Rep. Hinchey, who is pushing Obama to declassify relevant documents by executive order.

BUENOS AIRES, Argentina (WOMENSENEWS)--In a major trial here, the government is accusing 11 former leaders of the military junta of systematically appropriating infants belonging to some of the 30,000 citizens who were killed for being deemed "leftist subversives" during the so-called Dirty War from 1976 to 1983.

The trial, expected to close this year, is being closely watched by a group of women now in their 80s or 90s, known as the Grandmothers of Plaza de Mayo.

For 30 years they have driven a very public effort to find stolen grandchildren and to bring their children's killers to justice.

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Now they are finding an ally in a Democratic Congressman named Maurice Hinchey, who represents the 22nd district of New York, northwest of New York City and bordering Pennsylvania.

Hinchey announced last week that he'll retire at the end of this year. For now, he is seeking the declassification and release of CIA and Pentagon records that could help identify some of the missing grandchildren.

"We know that many people at the time went to the U.S. embassy and gave testimony about what happened to them," said Estela Carlotto, president of the Grandmothers. "Thirty years have passed and we think it is time to release them."

Hinchey in the 1990s proposed similar legislation that forced the U.S. government to admit its knowledge of a 1973 Chilean military coup that ended in the assassination of that country's elected socialist leader Salvador Allende.

Last year Hinchey introduced legislation in the House that would have forced the declassification of the Argentine documents, but the measure failed. After that he wrote President Obama in November, asking him to declassify the records by executive order.

"Thousands of families have waited more than 30 years to learn the fates of their loved ones," he wrote, "and we have an opportunity to make a contribution to truth and justice by helping to bring this troubling chapter in Argentina's history to a close."

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