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Maria Esther Gatti de Islas, rights activist, dies

MONTEVIDEO, Uruguay - Maria Esther Gatti de Islas, a human rights activist who helped found Uruguay's organization of relatives of people who disappeared during South America's "dirty wars," died yesterday at age 92, her group said.

A photograph of the eyes of her missing 18-month-old granddaughter became a symbol of the struggle of Uruguayan families to find out what happened to their loved ones who were taken away by a military dictatorship.

The girl was taken at the same time Gatti's leftist activist daughter, Maria Emilia Islas, and son-in-law Jorge Zaffaroni were abducted in 1976 in Argentina.

Gatti's granddaughter, Mariana Zaffaroni, was found in 1992 living with a family of a former official of Argentina's repressive regime. The fate of Gatti's daughter and son-in-law are still unknown.

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