After days of silence, the president of the Grandmothers of Plaza de Mayo, Estela de Carlotto, acknowledged yesterday that she is “angry” with the decision made by a federal judge to allow a “recovered grandchild”, one of many children who were kidnapped and forcibly adopted by the military or their friends during the military dictatorship, to keep the names given to him by his adoptive parents.
The case of “Grandson 95” concerns 38-year-old Hilario Bacca, who was adopted by José Bacca and Cristina Mariñelarena, both of whom are currently in jail, after his biological parents were detained at the Navy’s School of Mechanics in 1978.
Last Friday, a court ruled in Bacca’s favor following his request to continue using the surname of his adoptive parents and the first name that they had given him, instead of the name on his birth certificate – Federico Cagnola Pereyra.
Bacca made an emotional case before the judge: “I do not identify with the last name Cagnola or Pereyra, and much less with the name Federico. It’s not out of anger, and nor is it a rejection or repudiation.”
On Saturday, the ruling was vehemently criticised by the Grandmothers of the Plaza de Mayo, who said that it was “an affront to the memory of his real parents”, Eduardo Cagnola and Liliana Pereyra, who died during the dictatorship. Bacca, for his part, countered that he had never been interested in knowing about his origins, claiming that the DNA test had been a “violation of privacy” and that “if they want to throw stones […] that makes it personal.”
The President of the organization that has been working for years to find the children who were stolen and illegally adopted during the military dictatorship kept her opinion on the court’s decision to herself until finally expressing her irritation yesterday.
In dialogue with Telefe, Carlotto explained: “We are not angry with him, but instead with the court for doing something that’s not correct, consenting to something that the law says must be changed – that name is someone else, not the person who was born.”
“He carries his biological parents’ blood, the rest is spurious,” she added. “He is the son of Liliana Pereyra and Eduardo Cagnola. The rest was just upbringing. It’s a serious thing and it’s known, there are signatures of complicit midwives, there is a whole conspiracy behind it.”
Carlotto and the Grandmothers’ comments have caused backlash on social media today, with many Argentines coming out to support Bacca in his desire to stick with the name he has grown up with.
Carlotto, enojada con Hilario Bacca porque quiso mantener el apellido de sus padres adoptivos. Y la Libertad, Sra?
— Pablo Varisco (@Pablo_Bachi) January 12, 2017
“Carlotto, angry with Hilario Bacca because he wanted to keep his adoptive parents’ name. What happened to freedom, Señora?”
Que tremenda la historia de ese muchacho Hilario Bacca. Primero víctima de la dictadura. Ahora víctima del capricho político y la ideología
— León (@leonxxxiii) January 7, 2017
“What a terrible time Hilario Bacca has had. First he was a victim of the dictatorship. Now he’s victim to political whims and ideologies.”
Miguel Ángel Pierri, defence lawyer for Cristina Mariñelarena and José Ernesto Bacca, weighed in on the controversy surrounding their adoptive son’s case: “The Baccas are not apropiadores [the term given to those who adopted kidnapped children during the dictatorship.]”
He argued that his clients were “victims of an authoritarian individual who was guilty of genocide, a liar, Colonel Guillermo Minicucci, and, unfortunately, he implicated them and got them into the terrible situation in which they find themselves today.”
Pierri added that he completely supported the court’s recent ruling that Hilario Bacca could keep his name and insisted that he had never denied his origins.