Susana's Statement on PGN Events [not a news report]

Date: 2007-10-23
Source: GuatAdopt
Susana's Statement on PGN Events

Apparently in response to the event in this report http://poundpuplegacy.org/node/30268
{Submitted by Susana Luarca, ADA}
The PGN is the legal adviser for the State entities. By law, it is required to give an opinion in different kind of proceedings. Adoption is one of them. The PGN must review the legality of the process, and the more thorough the review is, the better it is, because its approval confirms that everything is according to the book. Unfortunately, the legality of the process is in the eyes of the reviewer. The PGN lawyers who review the adoption processes go out of their way to reject as many cases as possible in as long time as they can. There is no limit to the grounds of objection or to the time they can take to release the files.

The morning of October 18th, 2007 I was scheduled to be at the hearings of two children at the court of Escuintla, a city in the south of Guatemala, an hour away. Because the PGN lawyers had another hearing in a different court, that same morning, they requested and obtained from the judge a postponement of the hearings. That could mean a delay of many weeks for those cases. Since the director of the hogar where the children are did not have to travel to Escuintla with me, she took a little girl whose case has been under investigation by the PGN since February. The reason is that the girl has cerebral palsy and instead of expediting her case, so she can have better care with her adoptive family, her file was sent - without any notification to the lawyers of the case – to the Minors section of the PGN. The director of the hogar was told that she should bring along with the girl, a medical certificate of whatever is wrong with the girl. When she arrived at the PGN she was told that the lawyer should be there and that one medical certificate was not enough, that she must bring two medical certificates. The director called me to ask me my opinion. I told her to call the lawyer of the case and reschedule the review of the girl, by the “experts” of the PGN. Since the condition of the girl is very obvious and the medical was issued by Dr. Sydney Hagen, one of the doctors of the embassy I just thought that the PGN was going out of their way to be more difficult than ever. Now I think that they wanted me to be there.

A little bit later, I got another call. It was from the foster mother of an eleven month old baby girl. She told me that the grandparents of the baby were very worried because the birthmother, a 16 year old girl, was taken into a closed room at the PGN, where she was being kept for over an hour and a half. I told her to wait. Some minutes later she called me again to tell me that the parents of the birthmother were told that their daughter did not want to place her daughter for adoption and that both, daughter and granddaughter were being taken to the court of minors. I went to the PGN and talked there to a man and a woman who told me that they had orders to take both minors to the judge. I asked them who gave that order. They did not tell me. I told them that they had that backwards. That they had to denounce and prove to the judge that the underage mother did not want to relinquish her daughter and only if the judge decided that the placement of both of them outside of the family home was in their best interest, and a court order was issued, birth mother and baby could be separated from their relatives. Meanwhile, they had to respect the parental rights of the parents of the under age mother.

With the parents of the birthmother, we went to the office where she was being kept. We found her sitting at the office of a psychologist, who was cutting with scissors the pictures of the teenager with the baby sitting on her lap. When I told her that the parents of the birthmother demanded that she went with them, she waived the hand with the scissors barely an inch from my face. I told her to be careful with those scissors, but she denied having done anything wrong. The girl raised and walked out with her parents, her sister, the foster mother holding the baby, the foster mother’s husband, and a lady friend, towards the entrance. The birth mother and her mother walked out of the building, when the two armed guards of the National Civil Police closed the glass doors and did not let the rest of us to get out. Behind us was the psychologist, waving a two page document, saying that the birthmother did not sign it, and to bring her back. The birthmother and her mother ran away. We were told that we had to call the birth mother to come back to sign that document or we would not be released. I argued that they did not have any right to hold us hostages, that it was kidnapping and that I demanded to talk to whoever gave that order. Since Josefina Arellano is no longer there, I asked to talk to a lawyer named Victor Hugo Mejicanos, who is a lot nicer than her, but I was told that he was not in. Using my cell phone I called a couple of lawyers to let them know that we were kidnapped. Then, I tried to take pictures of our captors with my cell phone but they would hide their faces. Then, a man with a video camera came to film us, so I took his picture and told him to let us out. He also hid his face behind the camera. More than half an hour passed and nobody was taking responsibility of the order to kidnap us. The man continued to film us. I expressly state that I did not insult anybody, that I did not attack verbally or physically anybody and that we were kept prisoners by two armed guards. If I would have done something improper, the PGN would have a video of the whole event to prove it. The people unrelated to the event, who wanted to get out were allowed to leave through another door, because we were the only ones trapped between the glass doors that are normally open and then were locked by one of the guards and the doors that only open with an electronic card that communicate the foyer with the lobby of the PGN building. The time was passing and I decided to try to escape by breaking the lower glass of the door. I did so, with a kick. Then I removed the larger pieces of glass that were still in the frame and got away. When I was free, I realized that my leg was wet. I pulled up the pant I was wearing and found that my right leg was sliced very deeply in a couple places and that several spurts of blood were coming out of it. I begged for help, but nobody came to help me. With my cell phone I called my nephew who is a doctor, telling him to come right away and feeling fainting, I was very grateful when the foster mother brought me a chair to sit on. I made myself a tourniquet with an elastic band that I had in my wrist to help me with a carpal tunnel pain that I have been suffering and then, the firefighters that the foster mother called arrived and did a better tourniquet. While I was being cared for by the paramedics, Mario Gordillo, the Attorney General, and about ten or fifteen men in suites were watching the scene from afar. I asked the AG to get closer and when he did, I asked if he knew that we were being kept hostages. The AG pointing a finger at me, told me that he knew who I was, that I was behind all the problems with the adoptions and that I had it coming. I told him that it was the other way around, that it was him who was creating the problems in order to sell solutions, corrupting the system and that I was going to take care that everybody knows what he is doing. The AG told me to tell the press about it, but did not let the press to get near me or to get a statement from me. I was taken in the ambulance to the Centro Medico Hospital, where I underwent surgery to repair the nerves, arteries, veins and the Achilles tendon that were sliced by the glass. I was fortunate that the best cardiovascular surgeon in town was already scrubbed to operate when I arrived and he and other three surgeons worked diligently for over four hours to repair the damage. I stayed at the hospital until Monday. I appreciate very much the many demonstrations of affection that I received.

At the PGN, when the foster mother went to help me, she gave the baby to her husband. One of the guards snatched the child from the foster dad’s arms. After I was taken away in the ambulance, the foster parents were detained and taken to the court, for their arrest hearing. They called their lawyer and since there was no evidence of any wrongdoing, they were allowed to leave, after many hours of captivity by sheer abuse of power of the authorities who are supposedly there to defend us. Both are sick, because she has a heart condition and he has diabetes.

While we were kept hostages, the birthmother and her mother were waiting for the rest of their family at the corner of the PGN building when a car came out of the PGN garage and stopped near them. Two men came out of the car and tried to take the girl by force to the waiting car. Her resistance and the screams of her mother made the thugs to give up and leave. Later, at the place of some friends where they were staying, the birthmother got a call on her cell phone, from someone of the PGN, telling her that her baby needed her, that if she went back to the PGN she would be given her baby back. Without telling her parents, the birthmother went back, and they took her and the baby to a place run by Casa Alianza, where she was told that she will have to stay there until she is 18 years old and that her baby will be adopted by another family. She told that to her mother, when she called her, crying hysterically, begging her to rescue her and to finalize the adoption, telling her that she never meant to keep the baby anyway. She also said that the place is a jail and that another inmate allowed her to use her cell phone because they took away her own cell phone. I was told all of this by the family of the girl who came to the hospital to see me and bring me a balloon arrangement, wishing me to get well soon. One of the sisters of the birth mother went to the PGN to ask to see her sister. A female lawyer told her that it was not possible, and that they were protecting her and the baby, because “Susana Luarca will kill her if she finds her”. I am piling up all the felonies that those people perpetrated and will file charges against all of them. When I asked why it was that nobody but the foster mother came to help me when I was wounded, I was told by a colleague that it was because the lawyer who runs the section of minors told everybody: “Let her bleed to death, don’t call an ambulance!”.

After reading the concerns of the posters at Guatadopt, I want to thank those of you who expressed concern for my well being. I am better than expected, on my way to recovery. To those who think that I kicked the door out of frustration, must inform you that I did not do it because I was angry or because I was upset. I would not be a lawyer if injustice would not make my blood boil in my veins. Of course I was angry but I did it because I needed to get out, in the same way that someone who is taken away against his will in a car, opens the door and gets out even if the car is going at full speed and knowing that it is dangerous. Extreme circumstances call for extreme measures.

Casa Alianza works hand in hand with UNICEF and with the PGN to advance their common agenda against adoptions. Some days ago I was waiting for a hearing at a Court of Minors when a family who was also waiting, told me their problem. The five teen age children of their alcoholic son were rebellious and keep trying to harm their ants, uncles, cousins and grandparents. They don’t want to keep them, but nobody wants them either. I asked the psychologist of the court why they were not send to Casa Alianza, she said that such institution does not take in any children, and that they just pretend to work in favor of the children, but are actually a school for juvenile delinquents. The people who run Casa Alianza, the Latin American division of Covenant House, have been more concerned in promoting their image to get donations, than in helping the children. At the hearing of the first of Casa Quivira’ children, the directors of Casa Alianza, went to the court to demand that the children were not given back to CQ, along with the directors of the hogars where the children were sent to. The judge told them that they have nothing to say about that case. Casa Alianza, whose by-laws do not mention anything regarding adoptions, and who cannot prove that they have done anything good for the children of Guatemala, is actually a money making industry who cares nothing for the children they claim to help and who would not stop at anything to further their agenda. They knew the sexual orientation of Bruce Harris and what he was doing to the children, but chose to remain silent because he was a good fundraiser. When Bruce Harris accused me of doing illegal adoptions, I sued him for defamation and he had seven long years to prove that I did something wrong. He could not. He had to recruit the help of the international community, to play martyr and change the defamation charges into a “freedom of speech” issue, which is like starting with a soccer game and ending up with a bull fight. The unconditional support of the US ambassador who went to the trial and made very clear his sympathy for the accused, by greeting Bruce Harris with very warm handshake, and turning his back to me, is a stark contrast of the lack of support from the current US ambassador that the CQ families are getting at the hearings of the children that were stolen from their home. The families of those children are US citizens and Bruce Harris is British (born somewhere in Scotland), so the presence of the US ambassador would be more justified at the CQ hearings than it was at Harris’. Casa Alianza is pure evil and the only reason they care about adoptions is because each child that is adopted is one child of the street less, which in turn, means less donations. Another source of income of Casa Alianza is to sue Guatemala before the international courts, for the wrongful deaths of street children.

The anonymous children who have no one to care for them, are duly identified by Casa Alianza, their grieving relatives are efficiently located and lawsuits are filed to get millions for the loss of their beloved ones. One cannot help but to wonder why the children of the street are so quickly identified and their relatives located, and if their deaths are also part of the plan to extract from the Guatemalan government those millionaire indemnifications.

Instead of showing the good that Casa Alianza does, their way of justifying their existence is to point fingers. The case of the son (singular, because the other boy is not his) of Gustavo Tovar is a clear example of the incredible way that Casa Alianza has to twist everything around. Gustavo Tovar abandoned his son with the boy’s mother, who used to leave him all day when he was seven years old, caring for his toddler brother. The older boy had to feed and change the diapers of the little one. The Court of Minors took the children to a hogar because they were left alone all day long and mistreated during the night, by their not loving mother, After a legal battle of the birth mother who could not prove that she could care for them and under the testimony of the older child who told with details the life he lived with such a mother, two judges ruled the children abandoned and ordered the boys to be placed for adoption. Two different families adopted them. The PGN opposed the adoptions and a judge approved them. The boys went to the US a year and a half after they were rescued. Six months later, Casa Alianza located in Mexico Gustavo Tobar and since then, has been using him to attack adoptions. When he went to the newspapers and started accusing me of taking away his son, I brought charges against him. Facing the possibility of spending some time in jail for his false accusations, he recanted and therefore, I have in writing his statement saying that there was nothing illegal about the adoption of his son, who was mistreated by the boy’s mother, apologizing to me and promising not to mention my name with regard to her son’s adoption ever again. But Casa Alianza needs a battle cry and that is why it brought the case to an international court of human rights, knowing very well that the boy will be an adult by the time the case is ruled, but Gustavo will get a nice allowance, which he will share with Casa Alianza as a token of appreciation. It is interesting that the Guatemalan adoption system is distrusted because it lacks “judicial oversight”, but when it has it, like in Tovar’s case, Casa Alianza denounces how bad the system is.

I hope that none of you would be kidnapped. It is the most insulting way of denying your human rights. Some said that I should have waited until the solution came by itself. My father was kidnapped and murdered. I was not going to wait to see what the thugs of the PGN were going to do to us, including the baby. I will press charges against them and if anything happens to me or to my family, Mario Grodillo, Victor Hugo Barrios and especially the lawyer who wanted me to bleed to death will have to answer for it.

God bless you and thanks for your concern,

Susana Luarca

Attachments:
Susana's Statement on PGN Events.pdf
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