El Salvador - Children stolen during Civil War case

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.
Date: 1979-01-01
Number of children: 787

Orphanages

Agencies

Organizations: Concern for Children

Location

San Salvador
El Salvador
DocumentDatesort icon
“Disappeared, Like Me” [film in production]2009-04-01
Guatemala: Dirty war orphans put up for adoption2009-03-23
A Daughter Stolen in Wartime Returns to El Salvador2007-04-05
Reuniting Families Separated by War2007-01-01
U.S. Team Transfers DNA Database to Salvadoran Group Searching for Children Who Disappeared in Civil War 2006-07-06
The Disappeared Children of El Salvador [Thesis]2005-05-00
El Salvador's suffering lingers on2004-07-09
El Salvador: Where are the "disappeared" children? [Amnesty International report]2003-07-23
Special Report: International Adoption from Americas.org [Latin America]2000-11-01
ADOPTEE TO BE REUNITED WITH SALVADORAN MOTHER 2000-10-30
More Casualties of War2000-03-01
Healing ...on reuniting Salvadorans1999-11-08
What Did You Do in the War, Mama?1999-02-07
ANSWERS RAISE MORE QUESTIONS 1996-08-10
El Salvador's Stolen Children Face a War's Darkest Secret1996-08-05
SOME ADMIT KNOWING OF KIDNAPPINGS 1996-08-02
A COUNTRY AWAKES TO THE REALITY OF IT'S `DISAPPEARED' CHILDREN 1996-07-14
War Orphan (60 minutes story)1996-00-00
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