August 8, 2014 / 10:54 PM / 5 years ago

Snatched by Argentina junta as a baby, musician back with family

BUENOS AIRES (Reuters) - Years of nagging doubt over his identity were crystalized on his June 2 birthday, pushing 36-year-old Argentine musician Ignacio Hurban to take a DNA test that identified him as a victim of the country’s dirty war.

Estela de Carlotto (R), president of human rights organization Abuelas de Plaza de Mayo (Grandmothers of Plaza de Mayo), smiles as she talks to her grandson Ignacio Hurban during a news conference in Buenos Aires, August 8, 2014. REUTERS/Marcos Brindicci

Born in 1978 to an imprisoned mother who was soon after executed by the military government that ruled Argentina from 1976 to 1983, Hurban has come to symbolize the struggle of families torn apart by the dictatorship.

The junta ordered that hundreds of children of assassinated leftists be adopted by other families. One of those children was Hurban, grandson of Estela de Carlotto, president of Abuelas de Plaza de Mayo, a rights group that works to reunite families.

On Friday, less than three weeks after volunteering a blood sample by way of the Abuelas organization to check his DNA, Hurban and his grandmother held a press conference to celebrate being reunited.

“Poetically, it was on my birthday, June 2, that something happened through chance and circumstance that heightened my doubts,” Hurban told reporters, declining to provide details for now.

“From there, everything unfolded very quickly,” said the graying piano player in a black t-shirt and leather jacket, looking happy next to his beaming grandmother. “Eighteen days ago they took a blood sample and as of two days ago I have known who I am.”

De Carlotto’s long involvement with Abuelas was driven by anguish over her daughter’s murder and desire to meet her lost grandson. She learned about his birth from a former prison mate of her daughter.

De Carlotto spoke earlier this week of her “enormous joy” upon learning that Hurban had taken the initiative. “It was he who looked for me,” she said.

Hurban said he felt “butterflies of doubt” about his origins in 2010 when he played in a concert for the very Abuelas organization that would end up identifying him.

Hurban, one of de Carlotto’s 14 grandchildren, is the 114th kidnap victim to be reunited by DNA testing sponsored by the group.

His mother, Laura Carlotto, was murdered two months after giving birth to her son in a makeshift government jail. She intended to name her son after her brother Guido.

Reporters were not sure whether to call him Guido or Ignacio during the press conference, but Hurban said he is keeping the name he grew up with.

“I’m more comfortable with ‘Ignacio’. I’m used to it and I’m going to keep using it,” he said.

Hurban encouraged other Argentines who are unsure of their parentage to get their DNA tested. “If you have the slightest doubt you won’t lose anything by stepping forward,” he said.

“You have to do it,” Hurban added. “It’s important to close the old wounds ... What’s happening to me is magical.”

About 30,000 Argentines were murdered during military rule.

Additional reporting by Nicolas Misculin; editing by Andrew Hay

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