By Mridula Tirumalasetti
Impunity Watch Reporter, South America
BUENOS AIRES, Argentina—Argentina is bringing suits against the two doctors and one midwife who allegedly delivered political prisoners’ babies and helped Argentina’s former military regime kidnap the babies from their parents. This is the first case of healthcare professionals being accused of falsifying birth certificates of babies.
During the dictatorship, the regime fought the “dirty war” in which Argentinians lived in a period of state terrorism. Approximately 30,000 people who were left wing guerrillas or political groups, or perceived to be associated with socialism were killed or abducted. Prisoners who were pregnant were blindfolded and handcuffed when they gave birth. Once the babies were born, they were taken away and given to regime friendly families, including military or police families, or even their parents’ killers.
Prosecutors argue that the midwife and doctors provided “essential assistance” to conceal the identity of the babies. Moreover, they helped give the babies to regime-approved families, who raised the stolen children as their own.
Francisco Madariaga was one of approximately 500 children taken at birth by the former regime during the dictatorship, which lasted from 1976 to 1983. Madriaga was born in a military hospital in Buenos Aires. The midwife who delivered him was Luisa Yolanda Arroche. Arroche is now charged with falsifying Madriaga’s birth certificate and aiding in the kidnapping.
“It’s a very important trial because it will judge the complicity of doctors and midwives who were directly responsible for these crimes against humanity,” Madriaga said. He continued, “[w]ith this trial we’ll be able to learn what they did with our mothers the day after we were born, know that there will be a punishment and justice will triumph because we are the living proof of the crime.” Madriaga’s mother, Silvia Quintela, has never been found.
Of the 500 stolen babies, approximately 115 have been located due to genetic testing and because of the efforts made by the Grandmothers of the Plaza de Mayo, which is a group dedicated to finding their stolen grandchildren.
Arroche faces charges alongside doctors Norberto Bianco and Raul Martin, all of whom are in their 80s. Prosecutors are also bringing charges against former military officer, Santiago Omar Riveros and Dictator Reynaldo Bignone, who have both already been sentenced for various crimes against humanity.
For more information, please see:
BBC News–Argentina tries doctors for “baby theft” during military rule–18 September 2014
Yahoo News–Argentina tries doctors for dictatorship baby thefts–17 September 2014
TeleSur–Argentine Doctors Tried for Baby Theft During Dictatorship–18 September 2014
Prensa Latina–Trial Against Doctors from Dictatorship Begins in Argentina–17 September 2014