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Defending Human Rights During Argentina's 'Dirty War'

In July 2014, The Carter Center invited Fernando Reati and Daniel Deutsch to the Center to share their personal stories of the atrocities they experienced during Argentina's "Dirty War" and meet former U.S. President Jimmy Carter.

As the first U.S. president to make human rights concerns a central component of his foreign policy, President Carter and his administration put international pressure on the leaders in Argentina to end their human rights abuses.

The abuses began in 1976, when a military dictatorship seized control of Argentina, and, over the next few years, waged what became known as "guerra socia" or "dirty war" on suspected dissidents and activists. During this time, Reati, his family, Deutsch's family, and thousands of others were arrested, interned, and tortured in prison.

Many of the captured were never heard from again. They are "los desaparecidos," or "the disappeared."

"The first year we were beaten up all the time. We were starved to death. The conditions in prison were very, very rough," said Reati, who spent four and a half years behind bars before his release.

At The Carter Center, Reati and Deutsch met and thanked President Carter for the first time in more than three decades. The improved conditions of imprisonments during this period as well as the eventual release of their families were a result of intervention from President Carter's administration.

Their visit coincided with the Conversations event "Reflections on Human Rights Abuses During Argentina's Dirty War," a screening of the documentary "Las Abuelas de Plaza de Mayo and the Search for Identity," and an opportunity to reflect on former U.S. President Jimmy Carter's human rights policies during his presidency.

When Deutsch's father was eventually released, a guard told him, "I don't know who you are. I don't know your importance, but let me tell you something, you must have very good contacts because nobody leaves this place alive."

President Carter's focus on human rights continues today through the work of The Carter Center which gives voice to and supports courageous individuals worldwide defending human rights, often at great personal sacrifice.

Watch this video to learn more about the "Dirty War," the prisoners, and President Carter's work to secure their freedom.

Learn more about the Carter Center's Human Rights Program:

Learn more about the Carter Center's Americas Program:

Watch the recorded webcast "Search for Identity: Reflections on Human Rights Abuses During Argentina's Dirty War":

Founded in 1982 by former U.S. President Jimmy Carter and former First Lady Rosalynn Carter in partnership with Emory University, The Carter Center is committed to advancing human rights and alleviating unnecessary human suffering. The Center wages peace, fights disease, and builds hope worldwide.

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