Stolen children of Argentina’s dictatorship search for the truth

Imagine discovering that your surname, first name and date of birth are all lies? That your family is not your real family? Hundreds of Argentineans born during the dictatorship of General Videla, from 1976 to 1983, have faced this horrifying discovery. FRANCE 24 went to meet them.

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In Argentina, during the dark days of the dictatorship, almost 500 babies were forcibly taken by the military junta from their parents, who were left-wing dissidents opposed to the regime.

The parents were tortured and often executed.

The young mothers, accused of "being active militants of the machinery of terrorism", in the words of the dictator Videla, were killed or thrown into the sea from a military plane.

According to human rights campaigners, around 30,000 dissidents were killed or disappeared during the junta’s rule from 1976 to 1983.

Newborns, who were often born in jail or in clandestine maternity wards, were given as spoils of war to military families or those close to the regime. Once adopted, they were given a new name and a new date of birth: a false identity.

In 1983, as the dictatorship came to an end and a civilian government was democratically elected, one group of women, "the Grandmothers of the Plaza de Mayo", actively set out to find their missing grandchildren.

Today, forty years after the 1976 coup that brought the junta to power, and thanks to a monumental investigation, witness testimonies and DNA tests, 119 people have discovered their real identity and biological families.

In FRANCE 24's documentary, our reporter Bertrand Devé went to meet these men and women who have discovered the truth of their past, with some of them finding out the horror of who their "adoptive" parents really were.

We joined them on their journey to reconnect with their roots and rebuild their identities.
 

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