By Karen Keilt | August 21, 2013
Published at Sonoran News.
In 2014 Brazil is going to host the World Cup and then in 2016 they will host the Summer Olympic Games. Millions of sports fans from around the globe and from Arizona will travel there to watch and/or participate.
But there’s a big problem in Brazil, and they are not too keen about anyone getting the information out. I have a true story to tell you, and I’m writing to you because I don’t want this to happen to another woman, man or child. What I am writing about goes on there every day, even as you are reading this article. Brazil will be in the spotlight next year for the World Cup and in 2016 for the Olympics. Hundreds of thousands will be descending on Brazil. Will any of them become victims?
Imagine… It’s 10:30 p.m. Your home is beautifully ensconced in a guarded gate community in the quiet suburbs of Sao Paulo. Your newlywed husband and you drift easily off to sleep after gently making love. At 4:30 a.m. you’re suddenly jarred from sleep…Strange voices, gruff, insinuating, loud, almost foreign, rude. You sit up in bed clutching the sheet to your chest, your husband fumbles for his glasses, clearing his throat. Your houseman is urging you awake…..He’s shoved aside, escorted roughly from the room. You prepare to shout, and that’s when you see the guns pointed squarely at you.
Charged with no crime we were taken from our home and it was the actual horror that happened to me when I was 23 years old. I experienced fear like nothing I had ever imagined before, yet somehow I survived 45 days in a brutal prison, being raped, beaten, tortured and given electric shock on a parrot’s perch. Much like the story of Yanira Maldonado there was nothing we could do to stop the events that transpired. Only after a huge bribe was paid were we released. There was no media demanding our release and no help from the American Consulate, though both my husband and I are Americans … (he the wealthy great-great grandson of a New York State Senator).
Three months later when I discovered that first tiny heartbeat inside of me that meant I was pregnant, my life’s course was altered once again. I knew I had a purpose in life and a reason to live. But today it is a much different reason than it was then.
Then 34 years later, sitting on a yoga mat at Bodhi Coyote Yoga at Black Mountain Fitness in Cave Creek, I heard my teacher Carolyn Pelletier speaking about forgiveness and about letting go, and I knew it was time to take a deep breath and speak out. “Forgiveness”, she said….”is letting go of the hope that your past could ever be any different.” Wow! I wrote those words down, and thought about them for a few days and it was then I realized that although I’d lived a “normal, happy life” after I moved to the United States, married, had a wonderful career and family, I had never opened that box I’d locked away, and a piece of my soul was locked away with it. Forgiveness is Letting Go of The Hope That Your Past Could Ever Be Any Different.
Those words changed my life, and I knew it was time to open my heart and tell my story.
You see, what happened to me in 1976, is still happening every day in a country more known for its Samba, soccer and beautiful women in tiny bikinis on world class beaches than it is for corruption, crime, violence and on-going human rights abuses.
My story has become my mission. I know first hand what they do. They did it to me. I am writing to you in the hope that you might be able to help me tell my story and stop human rights violations in Brazil. Though these atrocities happen to men and children, women are targeted more often.
Next year over 500,000 enthusiastic soccer fans will descend upon Brazil, and then just two years later a million more will flock to Brazil to attend the Summer Olympic Games.
What if what happened to me happened to someone you know and love? To an American citizen on vacation? Or to a total stranger?
How would you feel if you sat back and did nothing, now knowing what you know?
I have spoken at the Tempe branch of Amnesty International, at book clubs and charity events and was recently featured in a story on ArizonaYogaCommunity.com and I also wrote a fictionalized version of my story in my book “The Parrot’s Perch” which is available at Amazon.com. I hope you take the time to learn more about these events, especially if you are planning a trip to Brazil anytime soon.
Shown below are just two of the multitude of stories written about on-going atrocities in Brazil.
And you don’t have to read very far through the World Report Brazil 2013 to see that torture is still a problem there: Click here