At least 787 children were stolen from families during the civil war. Some were sent to orphanages, where they were adopted internationally (US and other countries). Some were adopted by military families within El Salvador. The war lasted from 1979 to 1991.
Most of the disappearances were clear-cut military crimes. Pro-Busqueda has collected testimonies from women whose children were yanked out of their arms and shoved into helicopters while they watched, screaming. Soldiers told families their children would now be reared to serve the nation, not subvert it. Most of the children were taken by soldiers in attacks on villages. One child who was taken and raised in El Salvador remembers the soldiers discussing what to do with the children they took that day. They said anyone who wants one of the children, can have one. ''They gave us out like chickens
,'' he said.
See these individual cases as well:
Imelda Auron and Maria Cebollero case
Imelda Lopez Lainez (Gina Marie Craig) case
Suzanne Marie Berghaus (Maria Sáenz Argueta) case
Jane Weideman Viasana case
Peter Cassidy (Ernesto Sibrian) case
El Salvador - Michael Kennedy (Jose Oliva) and his 3 sisters
- About half the 98 children that Pro-Busqueda has so far located were adopted by foreign families -- 14 in the United States.
- While the families acted in good faith, many others in the process did not.
- Shady lawyers forged papers for children and death certificates for parents. Certain judges became renowned for the speed of their overseas adoption cases.
- According to The Boston Globe, which first reported on El Salvador's disappeared children, the United States Embassy didn't do investigations before granting adoption visas until the late 1980's. The practice changed in part because several officials of and lawyers associated with the Atlacatl Battalion, the American-trained elite unit infamous for the El Mozote massacre, were implicated in child trafficking. Before then, the embassy had only demanded documents easily forged by unscrupulous lawyers.
Number of children: 787