A DNA test years in the making


Marcela Noble, the adopted daughter of the owner of Argentine media giant Clarin, on Nov. 10, 2009.


Juan Mabromata

DNA samples might finally provide an answer to an Argentine saga that has lasted a decade.

There are hundreds of Argentine children whose parents were killed during the Dirty War in the 1970s and who were raised by those who supported the military dictatorship.

The adopted children of the owner of one of Argentina's most powerful media companies are among those thought to be "children of the disappeared." Marcela and Felipe Noble Herrera were adopted in 1976 by Ernestina Herrera de Noble, the owner of the media conglomerate Clarin.

But while others have sought DNA tests to determine their genetic identities, the Herrera children have resisted attempts to compel them to give DNA samples.

In one instance, a car chase ensued between the judge's office and their mother's mansion. 

But the children have now accepted a court ruling and will take DNA tests tomorrow. The Argentine government maintains a DNA bank of samples submitted by relatives of people who disappeared or were killed during the Dirty War.

Kidnapping children was part of the military dictatorship’s campaign against “undesirables.” Women considered enemies of the state gave birth to children who were then taken from them.

"They thought that bad parents led to bad politics," said anthropologist Lindsay Smith, who is writing a book about the disappeared grandchildren called "Subversive Genes.” "They thought by putting them with new families — good Argentine citizens — they could make new citizens."

Human rights groups, such as the Mothers of the Plaza de Mayo, have helped a number of families find the stolen babies. Yet many of those children don't want to be found.

(Read: Torn between identities in Argentina)

A controversial law passed last year said that anyone suspected of being a child of the disappeared could be forced to take a genetic test to determine their identity, even if it's against their will.

Critics of the government say the law was passed specifically to target Herrera's children. The Clarin newspaper has been staunchly critical of President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner, and Fernandez has been trying to seize Clarin's assets, saying it maintains an unfair monopoly of the Argentine media.