Jesús López worked all his life as a domestic worker
It was a brief talk five years ago, in Córdoba. Claudia does not remember the exact date, but she does remember that it happened in that particular fragment of time that occurs when someone knows that she is about to die. On one side of the bar table was her; on the other her uncle, one of her mother’s five brothers.
“I was older, I was very sick. We went in the car, he wanted to say goodbye to his family ”, Claudia Andrea López, who is a Nuclear Medicine technician and works at the Naval Hospital, in the City of Buenos Aires, tells Infobae.
Saying goodbye to those relatives was the supposed objective of the trip, but as soon as they sat down to eat, the uncle looked at her and, knowing that he had no more time, said in one breath: “I have to talk to you, I want to apologize because there are things about your mom I haven’t told you”.
Claudia with her mom
Claudia, who was 45 years old at the time, looked at him puzzled. Her mother – that man’s sister, Jesús López was called – had died two decades ago. She had always worked as a maid in family homes and she had died young, at 61, of lung cancer without a chance.
What that guy did in that bar was nail a piece of history to the board that Claudia was unaware of. “He told me that my mother had suffered a lot, that she had had a very hard life since she was very young,” says Claudia. It wasn’t just any piece of her mother’s past, but one that involved her directly.
“It was there that he told me that he had been imprisoned for homicide. And that she in jail she had been pregnant with me ”.
A couple of loose facts
Claudia López and the track of her curly hair
Claudia grew up in Quilmes with her mother and her brother, a man seven years older than her. Her father did not exist on the family map, nor was there much room to ask why.
“She always told me ‘I don’t want to talk about him.’ She was a very reserved woman but she had a very strong character, so I obeyed. I never asked her too much, ”Claudia admits from her house in Quilmes, where she still lives.
It was 1997 and Claudia was a 25-year-old girl when her mother died and she -inadvertently, at least explicitly- stumbled upon the first clue to the “double life”.
“Ordering her things I found a letter written by herself, it was her handwriting. She did not say who it was addressed to but it was quite extensive, ”she describes. “Among other things, she recounted that, in addition to the two of us, she had had three other children. She said that she had to leave them but that she had always carried them in her heart.
It was a lot of information and nothing at the same time: three brothers who, from one moment to the next, materialized but as silhouettes without faces, without names, without history. It was that uncle in a state of farewell who, after decades of silence, offered her some data that helped her put together a precarious timeline, which still lacks a lot of data.
“He confirmed to me that those of the other three children were true,” continues Claudia. The first was born when his mother was 14, 15 years old at most.
“Apparently, her own father forced her to marry. She was still very young when she left the baby with her father. Carlitos was the name of that son. She later got together with another man, a man from Corrientes. With him she had two other boys ”, she reconstructs.
No one really knows why, but at some point Jesús also separated from that man and left Córdoba to look for work in Buenos Aires. He had studied up to sixth grade, hadn’t even been able to finish elementary school, and was still a teenager.
Claudia and her mom, when she didn’t know anything about her story
“She also left those two boys there, she was very young. I know that here she suffered a lot, my uncle told me that sometimes he slept in the squares because he couldn’t find a job. She until she started working as a live-in domestic worker in a house in the north zone ”.
It is likely that Jesus’ intention was to get a job and come back for them, but what followed was not exactly the shot for justice that tales of broken princesses need.
Jesús López with “Carlitos”, his first son
The woman moved to Quilmes and met a man with whom she became a couple and had another man. She was able to raise him and, although she also separated from her, she was able to rent a room to live in and they left together, mother and son.
There they continued their lives in pairs and at that time -beginning of the 70s- the homicide happened that ended up sending her to jail.
In time, Jesus met another man and got back together. The issue is that, this time, he ran into a violent man. What follows is a piece that Claudia’s godmother added to the board a month ago, who was a close friend of that woman and who lived around the corner from where everything happened.
“Her friend told her ‘I don’t like this man’, ‘he drinks a lot’, ‘he treats you badly’. And my mom would answer ‘no, it’s okay, you just don’t know him’”, Claudia reconstructs. “But it was true that he was violent with her and one day he attacked her, apparently she defended herself from her and stabbed him. He received a single stab wound, and this gentleman died instantly.”
It was the beginning of the 70s and nobody, of course, talked about gender violence, much less as a public problem. They were “couple” issues, no one thought of going out to denounce her husband and Jesús had enough crossed vulnerabilities to be cornered: poverty, lack of school, lack of network.
This is how she went from victim to victimizer. “They never found the knife, at that time there were those bathrooms that were holes. Apparently she threw it around, ”the daughter continues.
Claudia has not yet been able to access the case to find out exactly how long she was imprisoned, but what she does know is that it was in this context that her mother became pregnant by her.
Claudia during her childhood with her family
Claudia tries to put together the story between the particles she has and those she still lacks.
“I know that they took her into custody, first to a police station in Avellaneda.” What follows was told to her a month ago by her godmother, an 84-year-old woman who, due to her age, remembers the bulk but not all the details, for example, which police station.
“During that time when my mother was detained at the police station, she became pregnant with me. I know my dad was a commissioner but I don’t know what happened there”, she continues and takes a breath at the word “dad”. “I don’t know if it was abuse or if there was something loving between them. I can’t imagine a love story, but the truth is that I don’t know”.
Jesús López gave birth to Claudia behind bars in a prison in the province of Buenos Aires. He gave birth to her and set her free.
with his mom and brother
Claudia did not know anything about this story while her mother was alive and when she found out she had mixed feelings: “At first I felt bad, disappointed for having hidden something like that from me, but then I understood her. And I understood why she took such care of me.
The woman had hidden the entire combo from her, including who her dad was. She had only given him four facts about him: four facts in 25 years.
The first was that she did not want him to know anything because he had threatened to take it from her, “so she wanted him away.” The second: that when he got her pregnant he was married and had two daughters.
And the other two are minimal, but now that Claudia wants to find it, they are enormously valuable: “Sometimes she would look at my hair and tell me ‘you have hair just like your dad, full of curlers like this,'” she says, and continues, also from a jerk.
Claudia López and her curly hair
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“And once, when I was in high school, a classmate came to study at home. When she left this girl my mom asked me ‘what’s her name?’. I told her Nancy Villalba, and she replied: ‘Villalba, the same last name as your father’”.
Claudia is now also in a particular time and space: she has just turned 50, and she is sailing and shipwrecked in that vital crisis. She wants to meet those three brothers that her mother recorded in her letter. There is not much time, it is now because the eldest, Carlitos, if he lives he must be about 70 years old.
He also wants to meet his father, the daughters who should not know of his existence. Ask that man, now that she is willing to listen to him, why it wasn’t her father, ask him to nail the photo that is still missing from the story to the board.
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