Legislator whose parents were disappeared by dictatorship finds family’s old home

The former home of Victoria Montenegro, who was kidnapped and raised by a military family, will be signaled as memory site

Buenos Aires City legislator Victoria Montenegro, who was abducted with her parents during the dictatorship, has announced that she has found the home where she and her parents lived.

Montenegro, now 47, was just a few weeks old when her family was abducted during the dictatorship, on February 13, 1976. She was raised by a military family, and her identity was restored to her in 2000, after 24 years of living under a different name. 

“I have wondered where our home was since I found out about our story,” wrote Montenegro on social media. “The home that 47 years ago saw us being abducted and disappeared in a military operation Tetzlaff was responsible for.” 

Hernán Antonio Tetzlaff, a former military colonel, was in charge of the raid that kidnapped Victoria along with her parents, Roque Orlando “Toti” Montenegro and Hilda Ramona Argentina Torres. She was illegally taken by him that day and was raised as a member of his family, kept in the dark about her true identity. 

Toti Montenegro and Hilda Torres, who were 19 and 21 respectively, were both militants of the People’s Revolutionary Army (ERP), one of the main revolutionary groups during the 1970s in Argentina. Toti’s body washed up on the Uruguayan side of the Río de la Plata in May 1976. Forensic scientists specializing in human rights say he was killed in the “death flights”, in which those kidnapped by the dictatorship were thrown from aircraft, alive, into the Río de la Plata. Hilda remains disappeared.

According to Montenegro’s team, she had always wanted to find the house. She asked human rights lawyer Pablo Llonto for help, and they started to research lawsuits related to shootings and military operations in the area close to Campo de Mayo, since she knew it was near by. They did not expect to find the house under her parents’ real names, given the clandestine nature of their activity during the dictatorship years, but find it they did: it was registered under her father’s name. After finding the house, Victoria met its current owner. They will place a commemorative sign there in March, during the anniversary of the dictatorship.

Over 500 babies like Victoria were taken from their parents by dictatorship-era repressors, raised by families that often had ties to the dictatorships, and lied to about their origins. In 1984, the Grandmothers of Plaza de Mayo, who search for these individuals, learned that Tetzlaff was known to have abducted a baby. They filed a complaint. The judiciary worked slowly, but in July 2000 it was confirmed that Victoria was the daughter of Hilda and Toti. She met her biological family in 2001, and recovered her identity. 

She has been a human rights activist ever since, and is currently a Frente de Todos representative in the Buenos Aires city legislature. In 2020, she published the book Hasta ser Victoria (Until I became Victoria) about her life as a child of the disappeared.

Now, after years of searching, Montenegro confirmed that a property in Hurlingham, a neighborhood in the Province of Buenos Aires, is the home where she and her parents lived before the dictatorship tore them apart forever. Toti Montenegro had started the paperwork to buy the house, but it was stopped when he was kidnapped and disappeared. 

“Our home will be signalized and every person who walks by will know that it was the home of revolutionaries from the ERP who fought for a fair, free, and sovereign homeland,” she said. 

Published 1:04p.m. – updated 4:07p.m.


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