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Political and social events from the Americas, with exclusive reports and interviews. Every Wednesday at 5.45 pm Paris time.

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INSIDE THE AMERICAS

Latest update : 2011-03-09

Argentina: ex-dictators on trial for baby theft

Two former Argentinean military rulers are now on trial over charges relating to the kidnapping of babies from political prisoners during the dictatorship. In Cuba, the Communist Party will hold its first congress in 14 years. And finally, Boeing wins the contract of the century, an order for 149 aerial refuelling tankers.

Argentina: Jorge Videla back in the dock

By Antoine Raux

At protests in Buenos Aires, Victoria Moyano is well-known. She is the daughter of two activists who disappeared during the military dictatorship (1976-1983). But surprisingly, the latest trial of former dictator Jorge Videla does nothing to placate her anger. "At birth, we were sold or given away like pets. I’ll be thirty-three soon, and I still don’t know what happened to my parents. Nor do we know what happened to the 30,000 who disappeared, or to the 400 children stolen from their families", says Victoria.

When she was nine years old, she discovered the circumstances of her birth. She had been born inside a clandestine detention centre. Her mother, able to hold her for just a few hours, was assassinated and Victoria illegally adopted. "They stole my identity. Who are my parents? Where am I from? I have lived a lie. When they take your identity they steal your past and your present. Everything you know is a lie", says Victoria.

Some 500 newborns were raised by military families, most of them completely unaware of their illegal adoption. Victoria Moyano speaks of an organised plan to abduct the babies of political opponents. With other activists, she searches for new evidence to bring the perpetrators to trial: military officers, but also international corporations. "During the dictatorship, Mercedes Benz provided a fully equipped obstetrics ward to the biggest detention centre in the country; Ford had its own concentration camp…but Argentinean judges have never investigated workers' disappearances from either corporation, and I’m sure they could shed light on their abductions".

This is Videla's third trial and previous court cases have revealed little. Nothing on those who disappeared. Nothing on the stolen newborns. The pact of bloody silence remains intact.

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