My name is Clara Santos Flores. I was born in the city of Cordoba in the year 1935. My mother was a showgirl in one of the music halls that used to be the center of a certain element of Cordovan society. I never knew my father, my mother never married and was involved in a mode of living that makes even guessing the identity of my father difficult. My mother was not a natural parent. When I was young (near the end of 1936, just before my second birthday) she left the stage for good, and went into the keeping of a wealth army officer who had seen her preform. She left me in the care of good friend of hers, a former showgirl and close friend, but she and he husband proved to be even less dedicated parents than my mother and they soon left me in the care of orphanage run by a chapter of Servite Sisters just outside Buenos Aires.
That orphanage would be my home for the next fourteen years, and the Servite Order will be my home for the rest of my life. I grew up in the orphanage, it was not an unpleasant childhood, living with surrounded by girls of all ages in spartan but never depriving conditions. We were taught by the sisters, and as we grew older we we expected to be ever more involved in help to raise and teach the younger girls. This period of my life gave way naturally to the next, at eighteen I took my vows as a Servite Sister. I spent the next year working at the same Orphanage that had been my home for so long. Eventually this life, surrounded by the all too familiar setting, began to feel constricting. I requested that my superiors allow me to transfer to a parochial school in my old home of Cordoba. I taught Catechism to students in the school for many years. During that time I came to terms with the fact that I had entered religious life, not because of a clear calling but because it seemed the inevitable transition from my life as a orphan. It would take many years until I finally received this true calling. I continued teaching and increasingly began working with relief for the poor in Cordoba. I also began around this time to read more and more of the writings of Jacques Maritain and other philosophers. Between my work and my reading, I know when I found the Manifesto of Eighteen Bishops and later the declaration of the Latin American Episcopal Conference Medellín Conference, that I had heard my calling at last. There were voices within the church that were calling for the reform of the economy and the end to the cycles of poverty I witnessed every day. I began to seek out others within the church who shared these views. This lead me to the Movement of Priests for the Third World. These were mostly young and radical priests, who preached what was beginning to be called Liberation theology. For the first time I became directly and all consumingly political. The priests I met began to introduce me to trade union leaders, I became close to the leaders of the Cordoba branch of the CGTA. I was captivated by the ideals of Marxism, the promise of dignity for all gods children, and an end to poverty and suffering in Argentina.
This leads me to today, the city of Cordoba is in chaos. Students and workers have been marching, the police have murdered a protester on the streets, and riots seem imminent. Part of me is free full of the tremendous power that has been unleashed as people flood the street, and the response that it will surly call down. The rest of me is exhilarated by the energy it brings and the hope that the government may be forced out. The voice of the crowds may be heard again in Argentina. This mixture of fear and excitement has kept me inside all day, unable to take to the streets, mostly I pray, for the safety of those marching and for the souls of those I fear have already died today.