The Dirty War that Few Americans Know About

SALT LAKE CITY – Human rights groups estimate that over 30,000 people were tortured and killed in Argentina from 1976 to 1983.  The seven years of disappearance and killing by Argentine government is known as The Dirty War.  Many Americans have never even heard of it.

On Saturday, Feb. 25, nearly 100 people gathered in the Salt Lake City library to learn more and to watch the documentary titled “Las Abuelas de Plaza de Mayo and The Search for Identity.” The documentary is made of 40 interviews and historical that vividly shows The Dirty War.

The film shows that nearly 500 mothers had their newborn children taken away during a time of political unrest.  Some of the women were pregnant or were new mothers when they were captured and the infants ended up in the homes of government officials and others sympathetic to the regime.  The new parents changed the babies’ names, birth dates and other details about their identities.

Dr. C.A Tuggle, professor and director of the journalism program at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, had not even hear of The Diry War until he went to teach in Argentina for five weeks.

Originally Tuggle’s daughter began a project to study The Dirty War for her sister Bethany Parker’s broadcast journalism class at UNC.  After living in Argentina and learning more of their studies, Tuggle realized they not turn down taking their project even further.

Tuggle said, “It was just too powerful of a story to break up into two or three two-minute stories.  We had that a-ha moment where we decided to do a documentary.  We love human interest stories and realized that not many Americans were familiar with this story.  The documentary could help them know and understand the history and the current effort of these women searching for their identity shown in the documentary.”

Brynne Miller, an Elon University graduate of the Masters of Arts in Interactive Media program does most of the interviewing in the film.

Miller poses the question.  “Is the right to know who you are a basic human right?

Through extensive research and persistent efforts, Las Abuelas has done just that as they located more than 100 of the missing children, many of whom had no knowledge of their past nor of their true identities.  Some 400 still remain to be located.

“Our main goal is to get the word out about the film and these stories,” Tuggle explained after the show.

The documentary is set to show in over 90 Universities across the country.  In the Salt Lake City Library, the crowd was full of questions.

“I had no idea that these horrible things were taking place while I was in college.  You would think that we could have heard something,” said Greg Henderson, a local business owner.

Students questioned whether similar things are taking place today in other countries.

“It makes you think that there has to be all sorts of events like this that other countries keep secret.  It is probably happening in Syria and all over the Middle East right now.  I bet China would do stuff like this,” said Jeff Johnson, currently studying political science at Salt Lake Community College.

To find out more about “Las Abuelas de la Plaza de Mayo” visit the website