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Founding member of Argentina’s Grandmothers group dies

August 21, 2018

In this Nov. 23, 2015 photo, one of the founders of the Grandmothers of the Plaza de Mayo, Maria Isabel "Chicha" Mariani attends a ceremony to pay homage to victims of the last dictatorship in La Plata, Argentina. Mariani died Sunday, Aug. 19, 018, before she could find her granddaughter Clara Anahi Mariani, kidnapped during last dictatorship at three months old. (AP Photo/Rolando Andrade Stracuzzi)

BUENOS AIRES, Argentina (AP) — One of the founders of Argentina’s leading human rights group has died. Maria Isabel Chorobik de Mariani was 95.

The Grandmothers of Plaza de Mayo group says that she died late Monday at a local hospital where she had been interned after suffering a stroke.

Chorobik de Mariani was instrumental in founding the group that for decades has been searching for children who were stolen from people who were killed or forcibly disappeared during Argentina’s 1976-1983 dictatorship.

Two former dictators were eventually convicted along with others of systematically kidnapping children. Jorge Rafael Videla died in prison in 2013. Reynaldo Bignone, who was serving time under house arrest, died earlier this year.

During the dictatorship, the Grandmothers of Plaza de Mayo marched weekly at Buenos Aires’ main square to demand the return of their loved ones. The group says Chorobik de Mariani was a “symbol of the fight for human rights.”

The Grandmothers pushed for the creation of a DNA database that enables people illegally adopted to determine their real identity. They believe that about 500 children were seized during the dictatorship and given to couples who supported the ruling military junta. The group has so far helped to identify 128 cases of stolen children.

Chorobik de Mariani, who was known as “Chicha,” never found her missing granddaughter. Clara Anahi was 3 months old when she was stolen by agents of the dictatorship in 1976. The baby’s mother was killed.

“Dear Chicha, we will keep searching for her, along with all the other granddaughters and grandsons who are missing,” the group said.

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