The Grandmothers of the Plaza de Mayo yesterday announced that they have located the 120th child of parents disappeared during the last military dictatorship. The child in question — José Luis Maulín Pratto — appeared alongside Grandmothers President Estela de Carlotto in a press conference.
Maulín Pratto’s case is a bit different from other found children’s: he has known of his identity as a child of victims of the military dictatorship for the last seven years and, in fact, has been living with his biological parents for a number of years. However, the Santa Fe Province Court refuses to recognize his parentage and has not permitted him to take his biological parents’ last name. He is obligated to remain “José Luis Segretín.”
The Grandmothers released a statement yesterday detailing Maulín Pratto’ story and ongoing fight to reclaim his last name.
Although Carlotto conceded that his story is “a strange and unique” one, she added that it remains the story of “a stolen child, raised in captivity and deprived of his identity,” like the other estimated 500 children taken from victims of the dictatorship.
As now widely reported by local media, Maulín Pratto apparently always knew he did not look like the family that raised him. The woman he called mother, Cecilia Góngora, explained this discrepancy away by saying that his father, José Luis Segretín, had had a pre-marital affair.
But in 2008, when José Luis heard a woman named Luisa Pratto speaking on the radio, he realized that the truth was far more complicated. He took a DNA test and in 2009, he found his birth parents: Luisa Pratto and Rubén Maulín.
According to the story Maulín Pratto has been able to piece together since then, he was born in 1977, a year after the start of the military dictatorship, in a private clinic. His mother was registered under a false name: “de Segretín,” the real name of the woman who took and raised Maulín Pratto as her own. His father, a political activist, had been kidnapped and jailed a few months before Maulín Pratto was born. His mother was also reportedly tortured and sexually abused while pregnant.
Maulín Pratto’s parents began to search for their son once Maulín was released from prison in 1982. While they traced back the false medical records to the correct source, however, they allegedly were threatened to stop their search.
They took their case to the local courts in Santa Fe, which led their son to them.
But the court refuses to recognize the veracity of his Maulín Pratto’s parentage.
According to Carlotto, the ongoing effort to hide civilian complicity with the dictatorship has resulted in the delay in court proceedings, reported The Argentina Independent.
“The threat still remains, even with democracy,” Carlotto explained. “They are negating the possibility of giving him and his children a name.”
The Grandmothers of the Plaza de Mayo strive to find children born in captivity and illegally abducted to be adopted during the military dictatorship between 1976-1983. The Grandmothers estimate that over 500 children were given or sold to allies of the dictatorship and created a National Genetic Data Bank in order to identify the taken children through the DNA of their relatives.