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100 Words: Photographers Speak

100 Words: On The Shadows Of The Disappeared

Alicia Cadenas and Ariel Soto sought exile in Argentina after the dictatorship took power in Uruguay in 1973. They were both kidnapped in 1976 during Operation Condor, were interrogated in a concentration camp, smuggled by the military back to Uruguay, and spent more than two years in jail before seeking exile in Sweden. They divorced in 1985 and decided to get back together 25 years later. Joao Pina/Courtesy of FotoVisura hide caption

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Joao Pina/Courtesy of FotoVisura

Mirta Clara and her husband were arrested in 1975 for involvement with the Montoneros political group. Once in custody, she was tortured while pregnant with her second son, who today suffers mental problems. Her husband was executed in what is known as the Margarita Belen Massacre. She was finally released in 1983 and today works as a human rights advocate and psychologist in Buenos Aires. Joao Pina/Courtesy of FotoVisura hide caption

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Joao Pina/Courtesy of FotoVisura

Mirta Clara and her husband were arrested in 1975 for involvement with the Montoneros political group. Once in custody, she was tortured while pregnant with her second son, who today suffers mental problems. Her husband was executed in what is known as the Margarita Belen Massacre. She was finally released in 1983 and today works as a human rights advocate and psychologist in Buenos Aires.

Joao Pina/Courtesy of FotoVisura

In 1975, the right-wing dictatorships of Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Uruguay and Paraguay embarked on a military plan called Operation Condor. The mission was to eliminate opponents to the regimes. Many of the victims came to be known as the "Disappeared," because the government would simply make its detractors vanish.

It's estimated that at least 60,000 people died as a result of Operation Condor. From the Amazon jungle in Brazil to the cold lands of Patagonia, thousands of victims were placed in unmarked graves, while others were thrown alive into the ocean from airplanes.

By documenting the survivors and families of those who were killed, I hope to help generations of South Americans know and better understand this dark period in their countries.

Joao de Carvalho Pina was born in Lisbon, Portugal, in 1980 and started working as a photographer at 18. He's spent most of the past decade working in Latin America. Operation Condor stories have led him across South America and to Cuba. More of his work can be found on FotoVisura.

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100 Words is a series in which photographers describe their work, in their own words. Curated by Graham Letorney.