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 Sunday at 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 Ms. 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 coordinated by the dictatorships then ruling the nations of southern South America.

Ms. 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 Association of Relatives of the Disappeared.

After a long investigation following the restoration of democracy, her granddaughter, Mariana Zaffaroni, was found in 1992 to be living with a family of a former official of Argentina's repressive regime. The granddaughter's identity was restored and her kidnappers were punished.

The fates of Ms. Gatti's daughter and son-in-law are still unknown. They are among nearly 30 Uruguayans unaccounted for at home and 300 who went missing in Argentina, Brazil, and Paraguay, rights groups say. - AP