What is the worst secret your mother and father could hide from you?
Go on. Try to think of something.
Then try to imagine how you would feel if you were Ignacio Hurban.
Ignacio had always felt that there was a mystery about his past that his parents were hiding from him.
It was no more than that. A hunch.
But one day he went to a testing centre established for those who believed they might be one of the hidden victims of Argentine’s so-called ‘Dirty War’ in the seventies.
On August 5 2014, Ignacio received a phone call informing him that DNA tests had proved his hunch correct.
His ‘parents’ had kept a monstrous secret from him for almost forty years.
He was told he was actually the grandson of a woman called Estela Carlotto – Argentina’s most famous grandmother.
Carlotto is the head of the Grandmothers of the Plaza de Mayo, an organization founded to publicize the ongoing search for more than five hundred babies stolen from political prisoners during Argentina’s brutal military dictatorship of the late seventies.
The organization worked with testing centers, such as the one Ignacio had attended, using modern forensic science to help find the missing children.
Carlotto’s organization had managed to trace 113 of these children.
Finally, in 2014, she got the phone call she had been waiting for. Hurban was the grandson she herself had been desperately searching for.
Hurban was actually the son of Walmir Montoya and Laura Carlotto, leftist activists abducted by government agents in 1977. Laura gave birth while in prison; she was murdered shortly after.
As an infant, Hurban was handed over to two farm workers by their employer, who had close ties to the military junta.
Clemente Hurban and Juana Rodríguez raised him as their own son.
Hurban – now Ignacio Montoya Carlotto – still speaks of them with some fondness. They had loved him and cared for him and given him a good life. Why should he hate them?
And Estela Carlotta has described just how difficult it has been for them both to sort through his tangled identity. With one phone call her grandson lost his identity, as he knew it, and now has to grapple with truths more difficult than most of us could ever contemplate.
Yet for hundreds of men and women, the secret still remains hidden, even today …
Postscript: Clemente Hurban and Juana Rodríguez have recently been indicted and charged with “ideological falsification” and “altering the civil status” of a minor. The doctor who signed the apocryphal birth certificate has also been charged.