Frontline World

About the Series


ANNOUNCER: Tonight on FRONTLINE/World, three Stories From a Small Planet.


In Iran, reporter Paul Kenyon trails U.N. inspectors as they investigate Iran's nuclear program.


STEPHEN RADEMAKER, U.S. Asst. Sec'y of State for Americans Control: The position of the U.S. is that we want complete cessation and dismantlement of the enrichment program in Iran.


SIRUS NASERI, Iran's Senior Nuclear Negotiator: Who are the Americans to say what we should have and what we should want? All they have done is that they have done every effort to deny us technology.


ANNOUNCER: Are these secret atomic facilities for nuclear power or nuclear weapons?


Next, in Kyrgyzstan, an old custom, once banned, now returns.


FATIMA: My mom wanted me kidnapped by a Kyrgyz boy because she didn't want me to study at the university.


ANNOUNCER: And in Mexico, rediscovering ancient Indian pottery saves a village.


SPENCER MacCALLUM, Anthropologist: So it is a fairy tale, and it doesn't hurt a fairy tale to be true, does it.



Iran: Going Nuclear

Reported by Paul Kenyon



PAUL KENYON, Reporter: [voice-over] Drive through central Teheran and evidence is all around of Iran's past conflicts. It's February, 2005, and I've arrived in a country fast moving toward what may be its most serious conflict yet.


It all started three years ago, when an Iranian exile group leaked word that Iran had secretly been developing a nuclear program. The question is whether it's for energy, as the Iranians claim, or for nuclear weapons.


Here, in the lobby of this hotel, sits a team of nuclear inspectors from the United Nations. They've come to try to uncover the truth about Iran's nuclear program. Chris Charlier, a senior U.N. inspector, has been coming here since the start of the crisis.


CHRIS CHARLIER, Senior U.N. Inspector: There was a lot of problems with Iran to come clean and put everything on the table and tell us, you know, what they were doing. And it was clear that- you know, to the agency, that they try to hide something.


PAUL KENYON: None of the U.N.'s team in Iran has ever before spoken publicly, but Chris Charlier tells me about the difficulties of inspecting here.


CHRIS CHARLIER: Whatever we say, whatever we do, they're always behind us with a videocamera, with a microphone, trying to record things that we're saying. And it's a little bit disturbing because some people doesn't like it. You know, usually, when we work, we don't like to have always somebody behind us and always on- behind our shoulders and looking what we're doing or recording what we're saying. But you know, it's part of the game.


PAUL KENYON: Charlier and his colleagues have been traveling the country, checking out nuclear sites that until recently the world didn't know existed. The inspectors take samples and test particles and report back their findings to their headquarters in Vienna. The key to their work is access, and this is sometimes hard-fought.


At a site called Lavizan on the outskirts of Teheran, the U.N. suspected a nuclear facility, but the Iranians wouldn't let them in.


CHRIS CHARLIER: When we asked them to get access there, they started- you know, say, "Well, there's nothing there." You know, "We just dismantled a building, and there was nothing related to agency activities." And finally, after months of discussion, we went there.


PAUL KENYON: When they finally got access, Lavizan had changed from this to this. It had been dismantled, bulldozed over, leaving nothing behind.


Until recently, Iran's most closely guarded secret was a uranium enrichment facility six hours south of Teheran called Natanz. We decide to head there ourselves, across a desolate plain protected by mountains. Natanz has never been filmed before.


This uranium enrichment facility is the size of six football fields, and it's almost entirely underground. As you get closer, you see anti-aircraft positions. The Iranians have covered Natanz with thick layers of concrete and steel to keep it safe from the bunker-busting bombs that Iran fears the United States or Israel will use against it.


Iran's pattern of behavior around Natanz and the other sites is deeply concerning to the U.N. inspectors.


CHRIS CHARLIER: They tried, really, I believe, to conceal their program and their activities. And yeah, well, maybe there is things- still others things that they are doing and we couldn't find, and that's why we're getting suspicious.


PAUL KENYON: We catch up with the inspection team at a hotel near Natanz. They've just come from the nuclear facility there. Part of the inspectors' job is to install surveillance cameras to make sure the Iranians aren't doing anything undeclared. I want to know the latest data from the camera at Natanz, but inspector Daniel Baudinet is wary about talking. He says the security services have just been called about us, and he isn't comfortable being filmed.


DANIEL BAUDINET, U.N. Inspector: He's the guy from the facility.


PAUL KENYON: [on camera] Oh, is he?




PAUL KENYON: Yeah. Did he look angry? Is he going to stay? Is he coming in now?


DANIEL BAUDINET: No, no, no, no, no. But he was phoning. As soon as he saw you, he phoned.


PAUL KENYON: [voice-over] We know we're being followed as we head south toward the ancient city of Isfahan. On the banks of the Zayande River, Isfahan is a popular holiday destination for Iranians. The inspectors have come here to monitor another major nuclear facility.


We've been filming sensitive sites in Iran for several days now, and we're growing more worried about the secret police. We decide to start copying some of our tapes in the hotel at night, in case the originals are confiscated. The next morning, we head out with the inspectors towards the nuclear facility near Isfahan.


Anti-aircraft positions tell us we're close. Here, uranium arrives as yellowcake and leaves in tanker trucks, ready for enrichment 100 miles away at Natanz. The Iranians say this is all for their nuclear energy program, but the problem is, once they have the complete nuclear fuel cycle, they're not far from the material to make weapons.


We'd been told we could film the inspectors outside the Isfahan nuclear complex, but at the last minute, the Iranians changed their minds.


Back at the hotel, the inspectors will review their cases of evidence. They're sending back notes to their headquarters in Vienna, but they won't tell us what they've found.


We go one evening with inspector George Healey to the main bazaar in Isfahan. He's a collector of glass lamps unique to this region. They're made with uranium.


GEORGE HEALEY, U.N. Inspector: Uranium compounds can be used to give glass various colors. And when you put it in front of a black light, it will fluoresce a very beautiful bright green.


PAUL KENYON: Iran has significant uranium deposits, but not enough for its nuclear ambitions. They've purchased 500 tons of uranium yellowcake from a third country. Iran's invested heavily in its nuclear program, and it wants to be able to use it.


The next morning, the U.N. team sets off for another inspection. The security services tell us we'll be arrested if we follow them. Then we're told to leave the area.


They send us the long way back to Teheran, to keep us from taking more pictures of nuclear sites. But once back in the capital, we go looking for another. The Iranians have hidden it among the warehouses of East Teheran. It's called the Kalaye Electric Company. It used to be a clock factory, but now the U.N. believes it's where Iran's been conducting nuclear experiments.


[ Read an interview with the reporter]


We approach the main gate. Things start off friendly, but then phone calls are made, our license plate written down, and the security services arrive. We're told to leave.


U.N. inspector Chris Charlier told us his team didn't fare much better when they tried to get access to Kalaye two years earlier.


CHRIS CHARLIER: And of course, you know, we ask them to get there, they refuse it. So I had to back down, and you know, ask again next time. And finally, they agree to take us there.


PAUL KENYON: The inspectors wanted to test for nuclear particles, but the Iranians seemed to have attempted a cover-up.


CHRIS CHARLIER: You know, the building was a little bit suspicious. Everything was just brand-new. We were even still smelling the painting, you know, because it was just freshly painted. So you know, I think the activities which was going there, they had something to hide and they renovated the building before we arrived.


PAUL KENYON: We want to talk to the Iranians about the nuclear sites we've seen. At a Teheran university, we find this man, Ali Akbar al Salehi. He's a professor now, but until recently, he was Iran's top nuclear negotiator. When the U.N. first learned about Iran's secret nuclear program, Salehi defended it to the world. He's still defending it now.


ALI AKBAR AL SALEHI, Former Senior Nuclear Negotiator: We are really not after nuclear weapons. We are not ashamed of saying it. I mean, we are not timid to say. I mean, we are not a country to be timid of saying things that we wish to say or we wish to have. And we would have said it loudly if we wanted to go after nuclear bombs and nuclear weapons.


PAUL KENYON: Salehi insists Iran's nuclear program is peaceful. I asked why, then, was a site like the Kalaye Electric Company scrubbed and renovated before the U.N. inspectors arrived.


ALI AKBAR AL SALEHI: Well, this is again a technical issue. I mean, people who are in this area- I mean, you cannot wash a room that you have done experiments, nuclear experiments within. It's very easy to trace even the least amount of material in a room.


PAUL KENYON: Salehi's arguments are often technical and legal, but I press him on why they hid key parts of their energy program for nearly 20 years. Why the deception?


ALI AKBAR AL SALEHI: You keep on saying deceiving. I keep on saying that we were- I mean, had we deceived the world, we wouldn't have been in this position.


PAUL KENYON: [on camera] Let me put it a different way, to be fair.




PAUL KENYON: Why were you less than honest, or less than forthright?


ALI AKBAR AL SALEHI: Because of the sanctions, international sanctions.


PAUL KENYON: [voice-over] When Salehi says sanctions, he's referring to the U.S.-led trade embargo imposed after the hostage stand-off at the U.S. embassy here in 1979. Iran says those trade restrictions meant they couldn't buy a nuclear energy program openly, so they turned to the black market.


Iran is rich in oil, but they say they still need nuclear power to meet the energy demands of a population now grown to almost 70 million. On the streets of Teheran, I try to talk to average Iranians about the present nuclear crisis.


[on camera] Do you talk about it? Do you talk amongst yourselves about whether you have nuclear weapons in this country?


1st MAN IN STREET: [through interpreter] We talk about this.


OTHER MEN: [subtitles] Yes. Yes, we do. Yes.


PAUL KENYON: Do you talk about America's threatening language against Iran?


2nd MAN IN STREET: [subtitles] We laugh about the joke.


3rd MAN IN STREET: [subtitles] Just as Israel and other countries have that capability, Iran should be entitled to it, too.


4th MAN IN STREET: I think we need it not for making bombs or anything else, but for peaceful usage we need it.


PAUL KENYON: [voice-over] This woman tells us we're wasting our time.


WOMAN SHOPPER: [subtitles] You can't talk here. They'll kill you.


PAUL KENYON: Away from the cameras, people ask us when the Americans are going to attack.


It's Iran's annual Revolution Day. This year marks the 25th anniversary of the overthrow of the American-backed Shah. It's below freezing, but there's an expectation that workers in Teheran show up at the rally.


CROWD: [subtitles] Death to America! Death to America! Death to America!


PAUL KENYON: A rumor swirls that Iran's president, Mohammed Khatami, will join the crowd himself. And then he appears, just feet away from me. This year, the focus is on the international pressure that Iran's under to abandon its nuclear enrichment program.


[on camera] This is one of the most important issues in Iran at the moment. Only last night, the president was on television saying they wouldn't give up their uranium enrichment, and that's what his speech will be about today.


[voice-over] Iran's nuclear program has become a matter of national pride. It's a significant unifying force against a common enemy, the United States.


MOHAMMED KHATAMI, President of Iran: [subtitles] Our nation, our young people and our scientists didn't get permission or help from outsiders!


PAUL KENYON: President Khatami was once seen as a potential U.S. ally, but on the nuclear issue, he takes the same view as the hard-liners.


Pres. MOHAMMED KHATAMI: [subtitles] This nuclear technology completes the scientific cycle of our country. We didn't build it to have it destroyed by the illegitimate demands of outsiders!


PAUL KENYON: We've run out of time in Iran. We head for the airport, but we're intercepted by the security services, interrogated for five hours and then detained for two days. The bulk of our film of the inspectors and Iran's nuclear sites is confiscated. What we've shown here is all we could get out.


This is Vienna, the Austrian capital and home of the nuclear wing of the U.N. It's called the IAEA, or International Atomic Energy Agency.


Senior inspector Chris Charlier is now back from Iran and reviewing his files. I ask him whether he thinks Iran's energy program has crossed the line into weapons.


CHRIS CHARLIER: Of course, today, we're not to that point because, you know, we don't have any smoking gun about that. But it's always- you know, if you play kind of hide and seek, you know, and then you go around, you try to get this information, and then they say, "Well," you know, "this one we don't have information- if all information that we had requested to them would have been provided to the agency, we would have been in a much better position regarding where do we stand today.


PAUL KENYON: Charlier's findings land on the desk of Dr. Mohamed ElBaradei, the director-general of the IAEA. It's his job to write up the evidence. His words will be pored over by diplomats on all sides. He knows few will be happy.


MOHAMED EL BARADEI, Director-General, IAEA: I think I've been criticized by just about everybody in the process of one inspection or another. I've been, you know, criticized by the North Koreans, by the Iraqis before the war, by the Iranians, by some of the U.S. media.


PAUL KENYON: The press are gathering to hear the inspectors' findings on Iran.


MOHAMED ElBARADEI: Good morning to you. We are about to start our important board meeting, where we are discussing Iran and-


PAUL KENYON: Dr. ElBaradei treads carefully.


MOHAMED EL BARADEI: We are saying that we are making good progress, that it was difficult at the beginning because of the pattern of concealment by Iran, but since December of last year, we have seen appreciable improvement in cooperation, access to sites.


PAUL KENYON: Dr. ElBaradei puts a positive spin on things, but there's tension behind the scenes. Iran says it has a right to nuclear power under the Nuclear Non-Proliferation treaty. Their argument is with the diplomats who've are maneuvering to shut their program down. The Europeans have persuaded Iran to suspend its nuclear activities, but now Iran's threatening to restart enrichment at Isfahan and at Natanz. If they do, the Americans say they'll push to refer Iran to the U.N. Security Council, just like Iraq before the war.


STEPHEN RADEMAKER, U.S. Asst. Sec'y of State for Americans Control: We- we think there's no question but that Iran has embarked on project to acquire nuclear weapons.


PAUL KENYON: [on camera] Where's your evidence?


STEPHEN RADEMAKER: The best evidence would be the 18 years of concealment. I mean, clearly, there's a large-scale, multi-billion-dollar nuclear program under way in Iran, and for 18 years, it was carried on in a clandestine manner.


PAUL KENYON: They will say they carried on in a clandestine manner because there were sanctions against them. They had to do things on the black market because they couldn't do things openly.


STEPHEN RADEMAKER: That makes absolutely no sense. They had treaty obligations to reveal to the IAEA under a safeguards agreement this kind of activity.


PAUL KENYON: [voice-over] The Iranian delegation, led by Sirus Naseri, is here to make its own case to the world.


SIRUS NASERI, Iran's Senior Nuclear Negotiator: We have a right, an inalienable right, to produce nuclear energy, not just to use but to produce nuclear energy. That means- and production of course, does bear- does contain within it production of fuel, right? We have that right. It is inalienable, and nobody can take it away from us on legal grounds.


PAUL KENYON: The United States is exerting heavy pressure on Naseri and his delegation. They've just issued a statement to all diplomats here, reminding them how Iran hid key parts of its nuclear program. And it's dominating the agenda.


[on camera] And then are you going to make a statement about what the Americans said today?


SIRUS NASERI: Do they count, the Americans?


PAUL KENYON: It's- the statement that they were going out and- [crosstalk]


SIRUS NASERI: Untrue. When we are in the center stage, we like to be in the center stage. We don't want others to take up our road, OK? So we call the shots, not the Americans. [laughs]




[voice-over] The American delegation is working the room, trying to win support for their position. It's too sensitive an issue for any but the most senior State Department official to discuss with us.


STEPHEN RADEMAKER: The position of the United States is that we would like complete cessation and dismantlement of the enrichment program in Iran. Fortunately-


PAUL KENYON: [on camera] They would say they would not do that. That is a non-negotiable for them.


STEPHEN RADEMAKER: That is what they say, but the EU-3 had the same position on this as we do, so it is not the United States alone that is making this demand of the Iranians. We have joined with the EU-3 in making this demand of the Iranians.


PAUL KENYON: [voice-over] I put it to Sirus Naseri whether Iran would consider a complete shutdown of its nuclear activities.


SIRUS NASERI: Absolutely not. Who are the Americans to say what we want to have- what we should have and what we should not? All they have done is that they have done every effort in every manner that they could to deny us technology.


PAUL KENYON: [on camera] But if they don't get that, they say, they'll take the whole thing to the U.N. Security Council.




PAUL KENYON: Well, you know, the next stage would be sanctions, perhaps.


SIRUS NASERI: What sanctions- I mean, what sanctions have not been applied by the Americans already? You see, the Americans do not have a game plan. I think the whole thing is becoming extremely rhetorical within the U.S. administration. They go to the Security Council, they think they're in driver's seat. But where do they want to go? Where do they want to go? What can they do? What is their point of leverage?


PAUL KENYON: Well, they want you to stop your nuclear program totally because they don't trust you.


SIRUS NASERI: Well, we don't trust them, either, so they should probably also stop their fuel production, so we will trust them afterwards. They just have to learn to be more realistic about this whole process.


PAUL KENYON: [voice-over] In the middle of the IAEA meeting, new information about Iran is becoming public. The inspectors have found a secret tunnel under the uranium conversion facility at Isfahan. Naseri is dismissing it as a storage facility.


SIRUS NASERI: Second, the question has been raised about a storage facility in Isfahan. I think there we- what it boils down to, we have bits of miscommunication between us and the agency. This storage facility has nothing to do with the conversion process, it is simply a storage facility.


PAUL KENYON: It's unclear what the tunnel is being used for, but the Iranians are having a harder time explaining something else the inspectors uncovered at the Kalaye nuclear research facility. This is where Iran had tried a clean-up, but inspector Chris Charlier told me he obtained samples here anyway.


CHRIS CHARLIER: We didn't know what we were swiping, we would just take from different locations. And then, you know, when we did the analysis, we find out that the spectrum and distribution of the particles. And it was, yes, quite surprising to have this concentration of particles around 36 and 54 per cent.


PAUL KENYON: The particles he's talking about are more highly enriched than Iran would need just for energy. The question is whether Iran enriched the particles itself or whether, as Iran claims, they were contamination that came with the centrifuges they bought on the black market.


The inspectors are trying to check out Iran's defense. In doing so, they need to investigate a secret nuclear proliferation network based in Pakistan. It sold Iran plans and centrifuges for its nuclear program. Now the inspectors have obtained some of those plans from Libya. Worryingly, they're on compact disk. It's the first time they've spoken of this.


OLLI HEINDNEN, Chief IAEA Inspector: What we've got here is actually- are a complete set of drawings of P1 centrifuge. It includes the drawings of every component and how you put the thing together. It includes instruction manuals, how you manufacture each of those pieces, how you test that you've got a good quality, and how you test the subsystem of the system. So this is a very valuable document, and it's all in electronic form.


[ More on the nuclear black market]


PAUL KENYON: The IAEA is worried about who else in the world might have these plans. But for Chris Charlier, the focus remains on one of the more pressing issues for the agency: total transparency from the Iranians.


CHRIS CHARLIER: The agency should be confident that there is no other non-declared activities and nuclear material in Iran.


PAUL KENYON: [on camera] Are you confident?


CHRIS CHARLIER: At this point? No. And that's why, you know, we didn't give them a green bill yet. You know, we still have a lot of work in front of us.


PAUL KENYON: The U.N. inspectors hope to make more trips to Iran in the coming months, but politics might prevent it. The Americans are pushing for total cessation of Iran's nuclear enrichment program, and Iran is not backing down.


ALI AKBAR AL SALEHI, Former Senior Nuclear Negotiator: If confrontation is inevitable- if, I'm saying a lot of "ifs," you see- if confrontation is inevitable, it has never in the history of Iran been that Iran has been as strong as it is today. Never in history of Iran, Iran has been as strong as it is today, OK, on its own scale. And never America has been in its- at its weakest point on its own scale, as it is today.


So if there is to be confrontation, then probably this is the time to have the confrontation, and therefore, Iran has no fear for that. But these are ifs and we- this is not our first choice. Our choice is to resolve this diplomatically and peacefully.


PAUL KENYON: But now, as Iran's nuclear crisis moves towards the U.N. Security Council, diplomatic options may be getting harder to find.




ANNOUNCER: Later tonight, in Mexico, the ballad of Juan Quezada, the poor farm boy who saved his village.


But first, in Central Asia, young women struggle with an old tradition.



Kyrgyzstan: The Kidnapped Bride

Reported by: Petr Lom



PETR LOM, Reporter: [voice-over] For centuries, Kyrgyzstan was a remote outpost along the great silk road to China. Under Soviet rule, few Westerners came here, but now it's slowly opening up to the world. My friend, Fatima, was born here. She grew up near the capital, but now she's taking me deep into the country, to a small village just outside the ancient city of Osh. A wedding is about to get under way here. The groom is nervous but hopeful.


GROOM: [subtitles] I went to several girls but had no luck. One seemed to agree, the other refused. Nobody wanted me. This one will stay.


PETR LOM: The guests wait hours for the bride to arrive.


NORKUZ: [subtitles] Leave me alone!


PETR LOM: Finally, at around 10:00 at night, she is hustled into the house.


NORKUZ: [voice-over] Get away from me!


PETR LOM: The bride's name is Norkuz.


NORKUZ: [subtitles] I won't stay!


PETR LOM: She's been kidnapped from her home about a mile away. Fatima had warned me the practice was shocking, but I still couldn't believe what I was seeing.


WOMAN: [subtitles] We were all kidnapped.


PETR LOM: The groom and a handful of his friends spent the day looking for a bride before they settled on Norkuz. Now it's the women of the groom's family who try to get the wedding scarves on her. When the kidnappers came to Norkuz's house, they negotiated with her brother. But now Norkuz's sister, a lawyer from Osh, is upset about it.


SISTER: [subtitles] Don't force her!


PETR LOM: She says that Norkuz was dating another man and was expecting him to propose any day. She tells Fatima she's angry that her sister is being forced to marry a stranger.


SISTER: [subtitles] She did not know of him. I don't know if Norkuz likes him or not.


PETR LOM: Ideally, a bride's family commands a bride price, but at 25, Norkuz is considered old not to be married.


After about an hour, Norkuz's resistance begins to wear down. Tradition says that once the bride accepts the wedding scarves, it's settled and the wedding can go forward.


FATIMA: Norkuz was already 25. She was happy getting married. She was resisting, but they were saying, like, "Come on. We all came this way." In those women's eyes, I saw the kind of attitude here, "Come on. I know everybody resists. It's a custom."


PETR LOM: Fatima wasn't that surprised that Norkuz stayed, but I was. We returned to Norkuz's new house a few days later to see how she was doing.


NORKUZ: [subtitles] I couldn't marry my true love. Only one in a hundred Kyrgyz girls marries her true love. Our life is about kidnapping, accepting and living on. Don't film me! After the kidnapping, you've no choice. You start loving, even if you don't want to.


GROOM: [subtitles] We're happy. Keep visiting and we'll be happier.


PETR LOM: The origins of bride kidnapping are murky. Some say Kyrgyz men used to snatch their brides on horseback. Now they use cars. And if a villager doesn't have a car, he hires a taxi for the day.


[ More on bride kidnapping]


Fatima asks these taxi drivers if they've heard of any kidnappings. One says he helped snatch a girl a few hours ago. They all agree that kidnappings usually happen on the weekend.


During Soviet times, bride kidnapping was banned. But in the 10 years or so since Kyrgyzstan became independent, the practice has come back, especially outside the cities.


Jamankul is 19 years old, and his parents are pressuring him to marry. He's got a girl in mind.


JAMANKUL: [subtitles] I'll kidnap her today, by evening. There will be three of us. We live in the mountains, so I need to marry.


FATIMA: [subtitles] Do you like her? Why?


JAMANKUL: [subtitles] She'll milk cows.


MAN'S VOICE: [subtitles] You'll get wet!


PETR LOM: On the afternoon of the kidnapping, Jamankul's parents start to celebrate.


FATHER: [subtitles] We can't afford the bride's hand.


FATIMA: [subtitles] So you're kidnapping her?


FATHER: [subtitles] They wanted too much money.


MOTHER: [subtitles] I need a bride to tend sheep.


PETR LOM: Jamankul's father is excited about the kidnapping, but it's his mother who's really going to benefit from the extra help.


MOTHER: [subtitles] We'll kidnap. We're ready for her. We have money and a car.


TAXI DRIVER: [subtitles] We're going to Osh city. Jamankul likes a girl there.


PETR LOM: In the city, Jamankul goes looking for the girl he likes. He's heard she works in the Osh bazaar. Meanwhile, his friends try to get information about her at a vodka stand.


ULAN: [subtitles] Tell me her address.


AINAGUL: [subtitles] Whose address?


PETR LOM: Suspecting a kidnapping, the girl doesn't want to give up her friend's address.


AINAGUL: [subtitles] Find it yourself. I don't know where she lives.


PETR LOM: Jamankul can't find the girl he came for. He and his friends don't want to return home empty-handed, so just before we leave them that night, they consider a new plan, kidnapping the girl at the vodka stand.


JAMANKUL: [subtitles] I liked her, her looks. I couldn't get close. She'd be suspicious.


FATIMA: [subtitles] Do you know her name?


PETR LOM: The next morning, Fatima and I return to the vodka stand.


FATIMA: [subtitles] Where's the girl who was here yesterday?


GIRL: [subtitles] She was kidnapped. That's the rumor.


FATIMA: [subtitles] Is she ever late?


GIRL: [subtitles] Never.


WOMAN: [subtitles] You'll stay. We'll bring your parents.


PETR LOM: Her name is Ainagul. She's been at Jamankul's house for more than 10 hours by the time we get there.


ULAN: [subtitles] We followed her last night and kidnapped her.


PETR LOM: Jamankul's older brother says Ainagul's parents have already agreed to the kidnapping, but Ainagul is putting up a strong fight.


WOMAN: [subtitles] Cry all you want. You'll wear it.


PETR LOM: Ainagul is 17. She left her village a month ago to make a life in the city and perhaps to get a degree. She doesn't want to live in the mountains with Jamankul.


AINAGUL: [subtitles] I won't live with him.


WOMAN: [subtitles] You will. You'll never go. They're all watching you.


PETR LOM: To finally get the wedding scarves on Ainagul's head, the women step up the pressure. As Ainagul continues to resist, we're told to stop filming.


A few minutes later, to our surprise, Ainagul is free to go. Later, the women curse Ainagul, saying her child will be a drunk and her mother-in-law will be cruel.


WOMAN: [subtitles] She'll go hungry. She didn't obey. She'll never be happy.


PETR LOM: We found Ainagul a few weeks later, living with relatives in Osh, still shaken from the experience.


AINAGUL: [subtitles] Because of what people say, you think you should stay. But no one lives your life. You build your own future. Follow others and you'll be unhappy. I'd have lived in the mountains and tended sheep. I'd be a sheep, too. I'd be wasting my life.


PETR LOM: The town of Balakchi is at the other end of the country from Osh. This is where Fatima grew up. Her mother is still a school teacher here. One afternoon, Fatima asked her about bride kidnapping.


FATIMA'S MOTHER: [subtitles] It's a bad phenomenon. But we still follow Kyrgyz customs. Though we want to stop violence against women and support gender rights, we still practice bride kidnapping. My parents blindly followed the custom during Soviet times, as well.


PETR LOM: Fatima's mother was kidnapped herself. It was an unhappy marriage, but until very recently, she said, she planned to have Fatima kidnapped, as well.


FATIMA: I had an American boyfriend, and still my mom wanted me to be kidnapped by a Kyrgyz boy because from the very beginning, she didn't want me to study at the university, so she just wanted me to go back to the village and marry a Kyrgyz boy and have babies and make bread.


FATIMA'S MOTHER: [subtitles] If my daughter was kidnapped by a man I didn't want or she hadn't dated, of course I'd suffer, but I wouldn't go against it because it's in our blood, Kyrgyz women's blood. It's a custom, a mentality, that bride kidnapping is normal for us.


PETR LOM: Fatima was not kidnapped. Last summer, she married the man of her choice, an instructor at the American university.


FATIMA: I realized how lucky I am, that these girls, they don't have any opportunity. The only way for them to be treated as an equal member of the society is just to get married.


PETR LOM: Fatima escaped, but many Kyrgyz girls are not so lucky. Just a week before we arrived, one girl in her mother's high school class was involved in a kidnapping that went very wrong.


MOTHER: [subtitles] Kyal was kidnapped. They took her in a car. They said they were classmates. We brought her body home. They told us she killed herself. She'd never do that. What happened is a mystery.


PETR LOM: Kyal was snatched from outside her home. Four days later, her father retrieved her body from a village a few hours away. She'd hanged herself.


FATHER: [subtitles] I'll tell you what I think. I think they kidnapped her and she refused to stay. Maybe she resisted and was raped. So she hanged herself.


PETR LOM: No one knows what happened, and the kidnapper's family says they did nothing wrong. But Kyal's father is pushing for an investigation.


FATHER: [subtitles] She killed herself, but they had broken the law. Instead of an investigation, they ruled it a suicide. I only have her body.


PETR LOM: Since 1994, bride kidnapping has been illegal in Kyrgyzstan, but the law is almost never enforced. In one of the poorest countries in Central Asia, bride kidnapping is not high on the agenda for reform.


Near the end of our filming, Fatima and I witnessed a kidnapping firsthand. It was hard, especially for Fatima. She talked to the girl off and on for hours. And in the end, the girl was let go. The groom, Ulan, kidnapped another girl the next day and she stayed. They'd been married for four months when we caught up with them at their new home in the city.


WIFE: [subtitles] I have a husband. Before I got married, I was alone. Now I have someone to take care of and to dream with.


ULAN: [subtitles] She's two months pregnant.


PETR LOM: Fatima told me she felt torn. She was against bride kidnapping and she hoped the practice would change. And yet, as we left Ulan and his wife, Fatima felt something else that was much more complicated to explain. This couple seemed happy.



ANNOUNCER: Finally tonight, in Mexico, the miracle of Mata Ortiz.



Mexico: The Ballad of Juan Quezada

Reporter: Macarena HERNíNDEZ



MACARENA HERNÁNDEZ, Reporter: [voice-over] The Mexican state of Chihuahua and its rugged terrain is a land of magic and myth. People here tell stories of outlaws and heroes. They talk about hidden treasures in the mountains, where Pancho Villa and his men once roamed. But the villages here are now deserted. People left after the timber industry died and the train stopped running. All that's left is this gasoline-powered trolley.


But further down the track, there's a town that not only survived but prospered. They call it un milagro, "the miracle" of Mata Ortiz. The people here sing ballads, corridos, in honor of the man responsible for their good fortune, Juan Quezada. His story started a long time ago, high in the nearby mountains. Over 40 years ago, he was a poor farm boy gathering firewood to sell in town.


[on camera] [subtitles] This is good exercise.


[voice-over] Climbing up this slope, he stumbled across a cave, and in it a treasure that would save his village.


JUAN QUEZADA: [subtitles] I saw them here. They were buried here. These are from a very fine material.


MACARENA HERNÁNDEZ: [subtitles] This is what you found?


JUAN QUEZADA: [subtitles] No, I found entire pots.


MACARENA HERNÁNDEZ: [voice-over] What he'd found were beautifully painted ceramic pots made by his ancestors, the Paquime Indians, a lost culture from hundreds of years ago.


JUAN QUEZADA: [subtitles] The first time I saw those pieces, I said, "The ancient ones must have found all the materials here. I'll just have to search and experiment. I'm going to make one of those pots."


MACARENA HERNÁNDEZ: It took him years of trial and error, but finally, Juan Quezada taught himself to make a good copy of the ancient Indian designs. He made more and sold a few to passing visitors. Then some of Juan's pots turned up in a second-hand store in New Mexico.


SPENCER MacCALLUM, Anthropologist: Those pots seemed to have a life of their own. It's as if they stood up on their hind legs and they shouted at me, "Look at us, we're made by someone who knows who he is." And it's like a fairy tale.


MACARENA HERNÁNDEZ: Anthropologist Spencer MacCallum searched all over northern Mexico to find the unknown artist, and when he did, they formed a partnership.


SPENCER MacCALLUM: It was just the beginning of six years, full-time then, working with Juan, developing a market in the United States that would support the quality that he wanted to do, he aspired to.


MACARENA HERNÁNDEZ: Today Juan Quezada is famous, and his work is collected all over the world.


JUAN QUEZADA: [subtitles] These sell for $3,500.


MACARENA HERNÁNDEZ: But that's not the only reason the people of Mata Ortiz sing corridos about him.


JUAN QUEZADA: [subtitles] I remembered a proverb my mother used to say: You don't give a fish to the needy, you teach them how to fish. I gave everyone a bit of clay and told them, "You will learn how to make pottery." "But Juan, it's impossible," they said. "How? We'll never be able to do it."


MACARENA HERNÁNDEZ: And that was Juan Quezada's miracle. Today there are hundreds of potters in Mata Ortiz. It's a town of artisanos. No two artists' work is the same. The intricate designs painted on these pots are still inspired by the Paquime artwork. It takes patience and a steady hand. The artists use brushes made with children's hair. The painting alone can take days.


[ More on the pottery of Mata Ortiz]


The secrets of their art lie in the same streambeds and mountains the Paquime Indians worked centuries ago.


JORGE QUINTANA, Potter: [subtitles] In one of the mountains, we have the clay. In the next mountain, we have the black paint. On the other side of the river, we have different colored clays. It's hard to find so much good material for pottery in one place.


MACARENA HERNÁNDEZ: Jorge Quintana is one of the town's most successful potters.


JORGE QUINTANA: [subtitles] Thanks to the pottery, I've traveled to many cities in the United States. It opened doors that would've been closed. Now people think of me as an artist.


MACARENA HERNÁNDEZ: The pottery's reputation has brought prosperity to Mata Ortiz.


BENITO MERAZ, Potter: [subtitles] I'm proud of this work because the buyers come here. I don't go to the U.S. for money. The dollars come to me.


MACARENA HERNÁNDEZ: The dollars come with buyers like Jerry Boyd. He buys pots for art galleries in the United States.


JERRY BOYD, Art Buyer: People in the U.S. are saying, you know, this stuff is incredible. It seems to win over whoever really gets into it. The diversity, the colors- it has got a reputation now as being some of the best in the world.


SPENCER MacCALLUM: Many fairy tales start out with a desperately poor young woodcutter, and that's just the way it was with Juan. Several years ago, he was awarded the Premio Nacional de los Artes, which is the highest honor Mexico can give a living artist. So it is a fairy tale. And it doesn't hurt a fairy tale to be true, does it.


JORGE QUINTANA: [subtitles] We owe it to Juan. He's the teacher. If Juan Quezada hadn't made pots, no one would be making them.


MACARENA HERNÁNDEZ: "All of Chihuahua wants to give you thanks, gracias," the song says, "to our great teacher, our friend, Juan Quezada."





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