Maria Isabel "Chicha" Chorobik de Mariani widely known as Chicha Mariani, aged 94, died Monday in Argentina. Chicha Mariani died from the effects of a cerebrovascular event after being in the hospital since Aug. 11.
Mariani was one of the founders and the second president of the Grandmothers of Plaza de Mayo, the Argentine human rights organization renowned for their struggle to find children and grandchildren kidnapped during the Jorge Videla's 1976-1983 military dictatorship era.
Mariani also founded the Clara Anahi Foundation in 1996 in honor of her granddaughter Clara. In 2007, the City of Buenos Aires awarded Chicha with an honorary diploma for her work in support of human rights.
On Nov. 24, 1976, military and police forces attacked the home of Clara's parent's: Mariani's son Daniel Mariani and his spouse Diana Teruggi, in La Plata.
Teruggi was killed along with four others Juan Carlos Peiris, Daniel Mendiburu Elicabe, Roberto Porfirio and Alberto Bossio. Diana was shot multiple times and used her body to cover her young child Clara Anahi, who was then kidnapped. Daniel Mariani was not at home during the attack but was assassinated in August 1977.
The home was declared a Memorial Site of State Terrorism and was used to print the magazine “Evita Montonera.” The magazine was the first to denounce the disappearances, the “death flights” and the secret detention centers during the Videla's dictatorship.
I am your grandmother “Chicha” Chorobik de Mariana. I have searched for you from the moment troops in the Etchecolatz camps killed your mother and kidnapped you from your home on street 30, no. 1134 in La Plata, Argentina. It was November 24, 1976, and you were 3 months old. From that moment, your father and I looked for you until he was also killed.
Although they tried to convince me that you had died in the shooting, I knew you were alive. Today, it is proven that you survived and that you are in the hands of someone. You are 31 years old and your document number is probably close to the 25.476.305 we put down for you. I wanted to ask you to look for photos of yourself as a baby and compare them to the photos in this letter.
I want to tell you that your paternal grandfather worked in music and I in visual art, that your maternal grandparents were killed because they were scientists, that your Mom loved literature and your Dad was a graduate in economy. Both had a great sense of solidarity and commitment with society. Something of all this you will have in your interests in life because, although you were raised in a different home, one eternally carries the genes of their ancestors. No doubt, there are many questions without answers that stir inside you.
For me, at 80 years of age, my only dream is to hug you and see myself in your gaze, I would like you to come to me so that this long search can end in my greatest desire, the one that has kept me going: that we find one another.
Clara Anahi, while I wait for you I will continue searching for you.
With hugs, your grandmother ‘Chicha Mariani’”
The Mothers and Grandmothers of Plaza de Mayo is a human rights organization, with its beginnings going back to April 30, 1977, when a group of women met in Plaza de Mayo, in front of the Casa Rosada government house in Buenos Aires, Argentina. The women met after the disappearance of their children, at a time when public meetings were forbidden and violently dismantled. The women were forced by military forces to leave the square, starting the March of the Mothers of Plaza de Mayo.
The military dictatorship cataloged the women as "locas" (crazy), in an effort to minimize their struggle to find their missing children and grandchildren. Uruguayan writer and historian Eduardo Galeano famously wrote, in honor of the women: "In Argentina, the "locas" of Plaza de Mayo will be an example of mental health because they refused to forget in the times of mandatory amnesia," in his book "Utopias."