Argentina: Introduction (02:34)
A coup d’etat, led by Jorge Rafael Videla, transformed Argentina from a weak democracy into a dictatorship of terror. Thousands of people disappeared and hundreds of thousands of students, activists, and workers were exiled. The new state directed the abduction of hundreds of infants; many of their parents and grandparents are still searching for them.
Kidnapping and Detention Camp (07:14)
The 6th Criminal Court of Buenos Aires held a trial in 2011 to try the former president along with his successor and nine other officials for the abduction of infants and pregnant women. Chela Fontana describes the attack on her home and kidnapping of her pregnant daughter. Several thousand people were detained at ESMA in harsh conditions.
Grandmothers of Plaza de Mayo (07:40)
The first twelve grandmothers met at the Plaza San Martin in 1977 and continued meeting. They created a detailed file of the abducted children and submitted it to the government. In 1978, Argentina showed the world a united and proud country at the soccer World Cup.
Identifying Missing Children (08:53)
Miriam Lewin describes the process that most detainees went through. The military dumped people from planes into the river going to the Atlantic Ocean and bodies washed up on the Uruguay coast. The grandmothers decided to identify their children using blood tests and genetics. Multiple generals succeeded Videla after his term ended; the grandmothers published photographs and accounts of missing children.
Democracy and Limited Justice (07:05)
With the election of Raul Alfonsin in 1983 came some justice for the victims of military oppression. Elsa Pavon identified her daughter. Alfonsin acted on the Grandmothers’ request for a national genetic database, created a National Commission on the Disappearance of Persons, and prosecuted former officials.
Reuniting With Family (06:45)
The Grandmothers of Plaza de Mayo made progress in identifying children. Guillermo Rodolfo Perez Roisinblit and Victoria Montenegro learned the people they called parents were abductors; both were resistant to accept their real families.
Awareness of Crimes and Identity (08:19)
Nestor Kirchner became president of Argentina in 2003. He ordered the removal of the portraits of Videla and Reynaldo Benito Bignone from the military school, abolished amnesty for military criminals, and created a National Museum of Memory at ESME. The Grandmothers of Plaza de Mayo continue to hold events to raise awareness about abducted children and identity.
Crimes Against Humanity: Trial and Justice (04:13)
After several years, the trials ended in the sentencing of former presidents and officials to several decades in prison. The grandmothers have found 107 out of 500 missing children. As they grow older, they prepare to pass on their work to others.
Credits: Argentina: The 500 Stolen Babies of the Dictatorship (00:47)
Credits: Argentina: The 500 Stolen Babies of the Dictatorship
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