From 1976 through 1983 at least 10,000 people up to possibly 30,000 disappeared in Argentina in what is known as the "Dirty War". General Jorge Videla led theH military and they kidnapped, imprisoned, tortured, and killed anyone that they suspected involved with left-wing guerrillas. People were also thrown out of airplanes over the Atlantic Ocean. The United States gave financial and military assistance to Videla to help with the genocide.
Alejandro Rei was a stolen orphan from the Dirty War. He grew up his whole life believing that Victor Rei and Alicia Arteach were his real parents. His actual parents were Pedro Sandoval and Liliana Fontana; they were imprisoned, tortured, and then killed during the Dirty War. The truth came out thanks to his grandmother Deharbe de Fontana who had been searching for him with a group trying to relocate babies their children delivered when they were political prisoners. Victor went under investigation in 2004 for kidnapping and told Alejandro that he saved him. It was the only father Alejandro knew so he defended him. Victor was charged with kidnapping and falsifying documents and Alejandro met his real family a few weeks later. Alejandro came to the realization that his whole life had been a lie and struggled with guilt, sadness, and anger.
Patricia Isasa is a survivor who disappeared during the Dirty War. Argentine police and soldiers kidnapped her when she was 16 years old. She was held captive for 2 and a half years and was tortured during that time period. Patricia was beaten from when she first arrived at the prison and was handcuffed with her feet tied to her hands for a week. Soldiers also raped her.There is a documentary about Patricia called El Cerco and it includes interviews with some of her torturers that are in prison waiting for trial. One of her torturers, Domingo Marcelini, graduated from the School of the Americas. The School of the Americas is a military training facility for Latin soldiers and has several human rights abuses connected to it. The school is located at Fort Benning, Georgia. In 1996 the Pentagon released training manuals recommending torture, extortion, and execution. In 1999 the US House of Representatives voted to close the school but it reopened right after under the name Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation. Since then Argentina, Bolivia, Venezuela, Nicaragua, Uruguay and Ecuador have withdrawn troops from the school.
In 2016 President Obama acknowledged the United States took part in helping Argentina with the Dirty War. He paid a tribute to the victims of the Dirty War and promised them he would release the US classified files in conjunction with it. He recognized the families have fought for justice and how their determination has pushed Argentina forward in holding the perpetrators responsible for their crimes. Obama notes how it's essential for a nation to acknowledge the truth about it's past in order to move forward and to build a country that respects the rights of all its citizens.
YouTube - PBS News Hours
There was a mass trial against those linked to the secret torture center Naval Mechanics School from the Dirty War. Last month 29 of those people were given life sentences, 19 were sentenced between 8-25 years, and 6 were acquitted. Alfredo Astiz, a former captain, was one those sentenced to life; he was convicted for kidnapping, torture, murder, and stealing minors. Last year former General Luciano Benjamin Menendez was also given life in prison for his role with the secret detention centers. Argentina has been making progress with convicting those that have committed crimes against humanity.