More “lighter”, more “relieved”, Diego Martín Ogando Montesano tells this newspaper that the testimony he gave before the Justice was something he “should” do. Not in the sense of duty; more like a debt. “I owed it to my father and my mother, who had disappeared; my sister, deceased, my grandmother. After the statement, I felt emotion and a great relief ”, reflected the 44-year-old, appropriate a few days after being born in the kitchen of the Banfield Well, on a plate in which his mother, handcuffed, partitioned and lacking everything She gave birth to him carefully and called “Martín”. The testimony of Ogando, who restored his identity in 2015, was the first before the Justice and is one more piece that adds to the “puzzle” of the reconstruction of his biological ties. “It is a story that came to complete the one I lived for 39 years,” he said.
The complaint of Grandmothers of Plaza de Mayo inaugurated the presentation of Ogando Montessano in the trial that investigates the crimes against humanity that took place in the Brigades of Banfield, Quilmes and Lanús during the last civic-military dictatorship. His words were followed by those of Emilce Moler, a survivor of the Quilmes Well and one of the teenagers who were abducted during The Night of the Pencils, who, unlike him, testified at least five times on previous occasions.
At the beginning of his testimony before the Federal Oral Court number 1 of La Plata, the lawyer Coleen Torre asked the young man if he had always been called that. “I was not always Diego Martín Ogando Montesano,” he replied nervously. The problems in the connection (he declared in virtual form) did not help to calm his emotional state. “I made notes to not forget anything, because although it is the story of my life and I know it, I wanted everything to be clear,” he confessed after the presentation.
However, his summary did not hesitate: he related that his “foster parents” could not have children, so they “adopted” him. “They adopted in quotation marks, because what they did was not a legal adoption,” he clarified. He also explained that it was Armando Berestycki who “they threw the information that in that clinic they sold babies.” “They went there –to a private sanatorium located at 6180 Mariano Moreno Street in Wilde, Avellaneda district–, they introduced themselves, took the money and bought me. It was on December 17, 1976, ”he explained.
The Berestycki couple called him “Diego” and registered him as their own son. Although, Ogando Montessano clarified, they always told him that he was not their biological son. “He was so lucky,” he said. As time went by, he wanted to know more details about his past and the marriage agreed to provide them. He had doubts about the circumstances of his birth because for the year he could be the son of the disappeared. “They didn’t know it, neither did I,” he said.
Martín’s inquiries reached there, while the marriage that bought him was alive. “I never wanted to do any tests or anything to find out in case it came back positive. I did not want them to have any judicial problem or to be imprisoned ”, acknowledged Ogando Montesano. And he stressed: “He would not have forgiven me.” But in 2015, that weight went with the marriage, which fell ill and died a few months away. So, he went to the Grandmothers of Plaza de Mayo.
With his false birth certificate and his entire story, Martín went to the agency in search of answers. The document provided a key piece of information: “They could see that it bore the signature of the midwife (Juana Arias de Franicevich), who had links with (the repressor Jorge Antonio) Bergés. It was a woman who had signed birth certificates for other restored grandchildren and linked to the sale of those babies, ”said the young man. After the revelation, they sent him to do a DNA test at the National Genetic Data Bank.
By then, he had lived in Miami for 15 years and the proof had to be sent in a diplomatic bag. The wait, they informed him, would last between one and two months. “That time passed and I continued working with my tasks …”, he said, implying that the issue was beginning to fade. However, one day he received a call from Claudia Carlotto, head of Conadi. “Are you sitting down? Sit down. I’m going to tell you your story,” he said on the phone.
“It made a huge impact on me,” responded the restored grandson 118 when the lawyer Pía Garralda, of the plaintiff group Justicia Ya! He consulted him about what that news meant. Ogando assured that “it was not something he expected” and acknowledged that when they told him he did not recognize himself as the protagonist of the event. “It seems that he was talking about another,” he stressed. “It is a story of much pain and death; of tortured and disappeared parents, of a sister who as a consequence could not go on living anymore. But apart from all this pain, knowing the truth is comforting. At least that’s what happens to me ”, he emphasized.
During his testimony, Ogando Montesano said that he had “no” contact with survivors who have seen his mother or father in the Pozo de Banfield clandestine center. He also did not seek out his fellow activists and admitted that he is not an assiduous follower of the trial against humanity in which his abductions, disappearances and his birth are being investigated. “I heard some testimonies, like that of Marta Ungaro and Walter Docters, but they are very hard and they hurt me,” he acknowledged in dialogue with PáginaI12.
Before TOF 1, he briefly reviewed the pieces that make up the puzzle of his identity, which he quickly picked up from the moment he found out who he was, in that talk with Carlotto: “He tells me the name of my father, Jorge Oscar Ogando, that of my mother, Stella Maris Montesano. He told me ‘you were born in the Banfield Well, you were there for a couple of days and then they changed your story. They were taken there, tortured and disappeared. You had a sister, a grandmother who looked for you from day one. ‘
The grandson of Delia Giovanola, founder of Abuelas de Plaza de Mayo, also knew and reproduced the circumstances of the kidnapping of her parents. Also that her sister Virginia, who was 3 years old at the time, was left in a crib, something that her grandmother related in greater detail in her testimony last week. He also said that he met Liliana, his mother’s twin sister and that, through an anonymous name that Delia received from a military man, they had the information that their parents had been murdered and buried in the Estancia la Armonía , on the outskirts of La Plata. “But it is a very large place and the forensics still have not found any rest,” he clarified.
Ogando Montesano dedicated a special message to his sister: “It is a tremendous thing not to be able to be with her, not to have known her. Everyone talks to me about her as if she was an angel, very friendly; that what he wanted most was to meet his brother again. He did everything to find me, he went to television, he participated in marches, “he said. Virginia committed suicide in 2011. To her, she said, she owed her testimony. Her, her parents, her grandmother.
“These genociders ruined the lives of at least four generations: that of my grandmother, that of my parents, mine and my sister, those of our children,” Martin denounced and claimed, before turning off the connection, the “jail common and effective ”, for the genocidal. “No domiciliary for these people, if they can be called people,” he concluded.