Former military leader Jorge Rafael Videla, the man responsible for my family’s forced exile from Argentina when I was 16, and responsible for the death of my cousin David Horacio Varsavsky when he was only 17, died today in Argentina. As a family in exile in the USA we thrived, and thanks to courageous men like district attorney Luis Moreno Ocampo, ex-general Videla spent a lot of his life in jail.
But to him and his criminal military colleagues I paradoxically owe some of my accomplishments in life. Videla and other murderous members of the Argentine military chased us away from our home, forced us into exile in the USA where a generous man, Senator Patrick Moynahan got green cards for all our family and gave us a second chance in life. But as a result of this trauma early on in my life, I was left with an extraordinary desire to prove to these awful dictators that I wasn’t worthless. That I did not deserve to die like my cousin David, that I did not deserve to be thrown out from my country. And I am convinced that I owe a great deal of my ambition to Videla and his murderous military gang. I was just a kid who wanted to prove his worth when all this happened to me. And I did that, and I do that every day I teach a class, I build my companies, I give a speech trying to inspire 20 year-olds to be entrepreneurs or I parent any one of my six children. And for this fanatic desire to prove myself, I am not sorry. We were not useless ex-general Videla. We deserved to live and thrive. And thanks to Senator Moynahan we got our chance.
I will always remember David Horacio Varsavsky.
Here is a link to the story of that year of the exile, my autobiography of the year I was 17.
Follow Martin Varsavsky on Twitter: twitter.com/martinvars