“What is remarkable is that the shared pain of having your children go missing united us, women of all walks of life, social backgrounds. Women who wouldn’t normally band together otherwise.”
The support from her new sisters-in-arms gave her the strength to carry on searching for her daughter and granddaughter. But back at home, her family life was irreparably affected by Claudia and Paula’s disappearance.
"There is so much more there that people don’t really think about. There’s incidents all the time, ripples. For example, once, one of my grandchildren came crying, desperately, into my arms. I asked him what was wrong. He said, ‘I don’t want for the police to take my mommy and daddy like they took Paula's.' What do you say to a child? How do you explain that there’s a democracy now and that won’t happen to them? Our family will carry that mark forever."
But her hard work paid off. In 1980, Elsa traced Paula to an Argentine family living in Uruguay. Paula’s kidnappers had falsified documents, denied her claims, and told the then-8 year-old girl her grandmother was a lying "crazy woman." She took the case before a judge, but she had to wait until 1984 to recover her kidnapped granddaughter — the year in which DNA testing technology was introduced to Argentina. Once their relationship was proven beyond a doubt, Paula was legally returned into Elsa’s care.
Elsa was the first Mother of Plaza de Mayo to recover a relative using this method. As for her daughter: "I’ve just realised that she is never coming back some six years ago,” she said, sighing. "They can try the criminals all they want, but justice, for me, will never be served."