Voices of the Disappeared Continued

November 09, 1999

In June of last year, Argentine authorities arrested Gen. Jose Videla, the 73-year-old former Argentine dictator. He was charged with commanding the regime’s systematic practice of holding pregnant women prisoners until they gave birth, then killing them and turning over the babies to police and soldiers who concealed the children’s identities. Their reasoning emerged from statements given by commanders cited in the indictment against Videla: Children were given to military families to prevent them from growing up and becoming vengeful "subversives," witnesses said. It was seen as an act of self-defense and of Christian compassion toward the children of the "infidels."

Videla’s arrest plunged Argentina back into an excruciating odyssey depicted in "The Official Story," an Oscar-winning 1995 movie about a military housewife who realizes after years that her adopted child was kidnapped from a political prisoner.

So far, around 60 of about 500 children whom the dictatorship is accused of kidnapping have been tracked down, thanks to the work of a group known as the "Grandmothers of the Plaza de Mayo"–women whose pregnant daughters were snatched by the military, and who then gave birth before they were killed.


  • Estella Barnes de Carlotto, President of Grandmothers of the Plaza de Mayo. Her 22-year-old daughter Laura was disappeared by the Argentine military while pregnant, and gave birth shortly before she was killed. She has been looking for her grandson, who was born on June 26, 1978 at the Central Military Hospital in Buenos Aires and was given by the military for adoption. He would now be 21 years old.