Thursday, November 11, 2010

History Lesson

On my trip to Argentina, I was told the story of the Abuelas de Plaza de Mayo.  I plead American on this one because I had NO idea and do not remember ever learning about it in school.  And the story stuck with me.  I haven't been able to get it out of my head for days, thus this post.

In case you can plead as ignorant as I did, here's the summarized version.  During the gnarly Argentinian Dictatorship, the Argentinian government kidnapped pregnant women, or mothers and their very young babies, who were a part of the anti-dictatorship movement and killed them, giving their babies up for adoption to military families. 

The Grandmas, being fierce as only Grandmas can be, have been fighting to find their Grandchildren since 1977.  Some of these women were killed in the process to find the truth. They are searching for potential lost children and demanding DNA tests to prove their true paternity. 

Not surprisingly, some of these children (now in their early 30s) are resisting.  They either think they are the biological children of their parents or are protecting their adoptive parents, many of whom have said they saved them from certain death.   Some, obviously, just don't want the only family they know to be throw in jail. 

One of the big cases going on is against one of the richest women in the country.  There's a huge back and forth that the government is against her and that her children were adopted out of love in a time where you didn't question the government. Her children have given DNA samples and been harassed into giving more.  No testing have been done since the two sides can not agree on where to do them.  Here's the original article: Time Magazine

My question is, who do you think is right?  I agree that the people should be punished for stealing these children and the murder of their Mothers. Of course!  But are the Grandmothers thinking of the children when they rip apart the only family they know?  Is it the best thing to send the only parents they have to jail and shake up their world beyond repair?  On there hand, aren't the Grandmothers only trying to mend a world that was originally shaken up by the baby stealers in the first place?

As a Mother, I'm torn.  I would hate for my children to have to deal with the pain of such a tremendous revelation.  Regardless of the intent, it will sting.  At the same time, I would break my heart to not have them know the truth or their family.  To die in anonymity, without my own child knowing who carried them with so much love is a thought that just breaks my heart.  I think that's what the Grandmothers are trying to undo.  I will say, it's hard to stomach letting something so wrong go unpunished!

What do you think?  Do we let the past go or do we expose it?  

Here are some more interesting articles on the subject: Truth vs Right To Privacy: The Battle of the Abuelas



  1. In Europe the story of these "madres" are well known. Let me tell you something: these families who adopted the kids knew very well about their mothers being tortured. They knnew it Rachel, they knew it.

  2. That just breaks my heart! It's horrible!

  3. The collective conscience. At the time a dictatorship and its followers deem that the murder of pregnant women and mothers is alright, and giving their children away to people who feel, collectively, as they do is just and morally permissible... they were saving the children and demoralizing a revolt and I'm sure they felt they had right on their side. They will never agree that what they did was wrong. They were saving the children and they took them as their own and loved them... even though it is now being pointed out to them that what they did was deplorable, on so many levels. It's like the Holocaust in some ways...a collective conscience of evil and its blind eye that was turned toward the murder of millions of innocents. In this case who are you punishing more. The people who will never be convinced that what they did collectively was wrong or the children they adopted. I think it's right for the grandmothers to condemn what happened and focus a light on it, but to demand that the children be ferreted out serves what purpose? If a child suspects that they were adopted during that time, and they want to find out who they were, then that avenue should be open to them but to force them is another form of emotional torture for what purpose. It makes me think of Solomon telling the two mothers that he will cut the baby in half, when both are claiming him as their own, and the true mother stops him and says to give the child to the other woman... her concern is for her child and Solomon then knows who the true mother is. The mothers of these children would want them to be happy no matter what the cost to them... what does it serve for them to be torn apart again.

  4. I agree with Kay; one mistake can't be taken as justification for another.

    While i understand the grandmother's suffering, the fact that they're forcing the situation regardless of what the grandchildren may think and feel about it translates to 'my feelings are more important than yours.' It's a quite selfish approach.

  5. This comment has been removed by the author.

  6. It's interesting to hear these last two comments. That was my first reaction as well.

  7. Rachel,

    This is beyond horrible, this is a tragedy with lingering consequences.
    I like what Kay said and it made me remember that the ones who silenced during the Holocaust in Germany had a HUGE responsibility to what happened then...equal damage the families in Argentina who were silence and or helped the militaries.
    I can't help but to remember the recent Goldberg case in Rio where the child grew acquainted to his kidnappers, but we need to keep in mind that in this situation the child was still 8, abducted when 4...the Argentina case has a much more perverse twist.
    I lived in Sao Paulo during part of the dictatorship years and had a History teacher in High School in the late 80's, Mr. Takara, he was taken to a military plane in the late 60's with other teachers and anti-dictator youth, including a young French actress who was vocal against the dictatorship.
    They flew the airplane over the Santos Bay, right off the coast of Sao Paulo and threw some young teachers and students out of the plane into the deep ocean tied to heavy stones "Paralelepipedos", they kept some alive in the plane to serve as an example and witness to spread the word about what happened to people who were vocal against the military regime.
    My History teacher, Mr.Takara, was kept alive under the promise he would leave Brazil and never return. The young French actress was thrown overboard along with many others.
    Mr.Takara immigrated to France and returned to Brazil in the late 80's when the military regime ended and Democracy was restored.
    He returned to teaching, but this time he opened his own private school in Sao Paulo, today he owes a powerful empire of Private schools in the Sao Paulo metro area.
    Mr. Takara told us horror stories from the Military days in Brazil, keep in mind the dictatorship in Brazil was NOT as brutal as it was in Argentina and Chile, many more people were killed and tortured in those two countries than any other dictatorship in Latin America.
    I think the Argentinian "Children" torn away from their families in the 60's and 70's are adults today, well into their 30's.
    That being said, I think the truth is MORE IMPORTANT TODAY, if their families were mean and were involved in the killing and or torturing of their biological parents, THEY MUST KNOW, it should be left for them to judge, not anyone else, they must have the right to know.
    If they oppose DNA tests for fear of what they might find out, we need to remember, justice for the biological families left behind must happen too, these grandmothers have been fighting to expose the truth for about 30 years.
    In my opinion the truth must come out, whatever it is, the ones who made mistakes must pay and the ones hurt must have justice, the kids left in the middle, are not kids anymore and should deal with the sad truth, and move on.


  8. I like what you said about the TRUTH Ray. I think it's more about the TRUTH than the children. It's about exposing what the military dictatorship did and truly mourning those who were lost.

    I can't believe what happened to your teacher or many other. I bet the stories we've never heard are even worse...