PASSINGS: Maria Esther Gatti de Islas, Chane’t Johnson


Maria Esther Gatti de Islas

Uruguayan human rights activist

Maria Esther Gatti de Islas, 92, a human rights activist who helped found Uruguay’s organization for relatives of people who disappeared during South America’s “dirty wars,” died Sunday, her group said in Montevideo, Uruguay. No cause was given.


A photograph of the eyes of her missing 18-month-old granddaughter became a symbol of Uruguayan families struggling to find their loved ones who had been taken 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 as part of a crackdown by the dictatorships then ruling southern South American nations.

Gatti became a militant in denouncing political disappearances. Working with an Argentine activist group, the Organization of the Grandmothers of Plaza de Mayo, she helped start the Uruguayan Assn. of Relatives of the Disappeared.

Gatti’s granddaughter, Mariana Zaffaroni, was found in 1992 living with the family of a former official of Argentina’s repressive regime. Her identity was restored and her kidnappers were punished.

The fates of Gatti’s daughter and son-in-law are still unknown.

Chane’t Johnson

Screen and stage actress

Chane’t Johnson, 34, an actress who appeared in television series including “ LAX” and “Brothers,” died Thursday in Hollywood of a heart attack, said her friend, actor Lon Haber.

Johnson’s other television credits included “Monk” in 2003, “Day Break” in 2006, “Life” in 2009 and “Big Love” in 2010. Her stage credits included “The Merchant of Venice” with Los Angeles’ MET Theatre in 2004 and her movie roles included “The Ring Two” in 2005.

She was born A'Drewana Chane’t Johnson on Aug. 21, 1976, in Dallas. Johnson earned a bachelor of fine arts from Southern Methodist University in 1998 and a master’s in theater arts from UC San Diego in 2001. While at UC San Diego she appeared in “Boesman and Lena” in a production directed by the play’s author, Athol Fugard.

Johnson also was a producer and director. She produced the short film “First” in 2007.

Los Angeles Times staff and wire reports