Guatemala: Dirty war orphans put up for adoption

Date: 2009-03-23

By JUAN CARLOS LLORCA – 12 hours ago

GUATEMALA CITY (AP) — Guatemala's government said Monday it has uncovered evidence supporting a long-held belief: Children whose parents were killed during the country's 36-year civil war were put up for adoption.

Human rights groups have long accused the government of offering the children for adoption rather than reuniting them with surviving family members. Officials had never acknowledged that.

A government investigation, however, has now found at least one case in which security forces killed the parents of a boy and a girl and then turned the children over to an orphanage, declaring them abandoned, investigator Marco Tulio Alvarez said.

It is unclear what happened to the siblings after that, and Alvarez wouldn't release their names because he said they haven't yet been located or notified.

Evidence suggests that hundreds of other children were likely taken to orphanages, and most were probably adopted by Americans, Alvarez said.

He is part of a team of government investigators analyzing the files of missing adults and children who were declared abandoned between 1976-86, the most repressive years of Guatemala's civil war. The team's final report is due next month.

Human rights groups estimate that some 40,000 people disappeared during the fighting. Peace accords in 1996 called for the whereabouts of children still missing after the war to be clarified.

In Argentina, the government confirmed that hundreds of children were taken from dissidents and raised by military families or others that supported the ruling military junta in the 1970s and early 1980s. El Salvador has worked to reunite children who were also separated from their families during that country's civil war and adopted by foreign families, often in Europe.


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