By Jack Hoffman
“Cautiva” (captured) is a compelling Argentinean movie that explores a part of the sordid past history of a brutal military government that ruled Argentina from the late ‘70s to early ‘80s. The merciless gangsters of Argentina, like so many brutal dictatorships, were commonplace in Latin America and had what I consider to be a most insidious way of placating supporters of the military and police who wanted a child, but were unable to conceive one. – Want a baby? No problem – we will just go out and kidnap a pregnant woman, steal her newborn, and away you go!
Christina, the heroine of the story, is now 19 years old and learns by scientific proof that her adopted parents had lied to her about her original adoption and that her real parents disappeared, victims of this incomprehensible crime.
Christina becomes captured – confused – by her parents’ love and a judge who has almost obsessively spent years attempting to track down the thousands of missing children stolen by government officials. In rather graphic detail, the movie shifts back to 1979, when Christina’s eight-month pregnant mom, who was not political, is kidnapped off the street, imprisoned in The Cave, a specially designed prison for pregnant women caught in the web of this criminal enterprise.
When she is ready to deliver, she is blindfolded, strapped to a gurney, and removed to a highly secretive connecting maternity ward. Since the attendees at the birth aren’t allowed to talk, she is never told if it’s a boy or girl. While still blindfolded, she begins a 2-day hurried up breast feeding schedule. One day Mom disappears and now becomes a statistic, along with 30,000 once pregnant women and thousands of other political enemies of the state. The movie won’t say how and where they disappeared to, but the facts are some were blindfolded, taken out to sea in a helicopter. Her captors would throw chum out into the sea to wake up the sleeping prey. You can imagine the rest of this all-true, sadistic ending for so many.
In a three-second news clip in the movie we are reminded of the U.S.A.’s role in Latin America, when we see former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger sitting with the junta generals at a soccer match. You remember Henry Ka Ka , our esteemed and very talented Secretary of State for P r e s i d e n t Richard “Tricky Dick” Nixon.
In the past few years most countries in Latin America have swung dramatically to the left – the ghost of America’s past foreign policy will always be remembered. Our policies were the biggest contributors to bringing Chavez and others to power. Since we tried knocking him off, he has made some oil deals with China that aren’t so good for this country.
Since foreign policy experience is one of the more important issues being debated in this presidential campaign – – Why don’t we just bring back the experienced policy makers of the past, the Iraq neo-cons, Cheney, Rumsfeld, etc. – Let’s just resurrect the likes of Henry Kissinger who has always administered our not so successful policies of the past. One of the best examples of his policy making was the assassination of Allende who had just won a freely democratic vote in Chile; Henry Ka Ka just called out the boys to knock him off. How about John Foster Dulles, the master planner of our failed Viet-Nam policy?
In 1986 John McCain came to Congress. Just in time to vote against the Boland amendment. – A vote to keep Reagan from funding the contra rebels in overthrowing again the freely elected president of Nicaragua, Daniel Ortega. Reagan thwarted the law and made an end run using our friends in Latin America to support the Contras. McCain strongly supported the illegality of it. Recently at a Central American conference on trade, now Republican presidential candidate McCain walked up to Ortega, whispered in his ear that General Gonzalez sends his regards. The general was the leader of the Contras. Now, that’s the kind of classy leader we need!
McCain has consistently voted for the funding of the International War College at Fort Benning. That’s where all those dictators and generals learned and still do learn about improved techniques for obtaining information. He was a strong supporter of the right wing para military units that were responsible for the rape and killing of some nuns and other missionaries in El Salvador. He has consistently denied foreign aid to countries that legalize abortion. (Can anyone name a country we send aid to that doesn’t have abortion legalized?) His voting record on foreign policy has and is consistent with all the mistakes we have made in the past.
Our foreign policy since the Berlin airlift is something we can never look back at and say: It was in the best interests of the nation. But we certainly can learn how mistaken we have been. It simply was and remains the historical chapter – How America’s foreign policy lost its soul, was wrong and ugly.
America, like Christina in the movie, has also been captured. Should we believe that the past decision making by the experienced politicians and beaurocrats was truthful and done in the best interest of our country? Or are we going to recognize our failures and build on a future of hope?
The message of 200,000 people cheering in Berlin is not just about some future leader that understands the hopes and dreams of so many around the world. Hopefully, they can look up to America to be the leader that we all need and want to respect more than ever today.