US Senator, State Department Official Visit to Guatemala

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US Senator, State Department Official Visit to Guatemala
April 26th, 2011 Erin Siegal

Today, Guatemalan newspaper Prensa Libre reports on two US officials visiting Guatemala: Louisiana Senator Mary Landrieu (D) and the State Department’s Office of Children’s Issues Special Advisor Susan Jacobs.

In the Prensa Libre piece, Senator Landrieu– a longtime adoption advocate and ally of adoption industry mouthpiece Joint Council on International Children’s Services– is quoted as saying the following (rough translation):

“If someone in the adoption system is doing wrongful things, close the agency and put them behind bars, but in my opinion, adoption processes shouldn’t be closed, because it hurts so many children.” (“Si alguien en el sistema de adopciones está haciendo mal las cosas, se cierra la agencia y se coloca detrás de las rejas, pero en mi opinión no hay que cerrar el proceso de adopciones, porque eso daña mucho a los niños.”)

Minnesota Congresswoman and Tea Party activist Michele Bachmann (R) didn’t go on the trip, but sent staffer Brooke Bialka to Guatemala as her representative. Bachmann’s office issued a statement referencing the 125 pending transition adoptions that are still being processed by the Guatemalan government, urging Guatemalan officials to “not let adoptions be stagnant for another day.”

The Americans met with representatives from Guatemala’s National Council on Adoptions (the Consejo Nacional de Adopciones, or CNA), Attorney General Claudia Paz y Paz, Guatemalan President Alvaro Colom, and Francisco Dall’Anes, the head of the International Commission Against Impunity in Guatemala (known by the Spanish acronym CICIG). They also visited children at an orphanage in San Jose Pinula.

One of the things I found most surprising is that Senator Landrieu reportedly said she didn’t agree with findings in CICIG’s December 2010 Adoption Report. The 115-page report– researched for a year– is a stark condemnation of how the Guatemalan state handled transition adoption cases (see here to download the report in English or Spanish).

The State Department’s media advisory states the following:

Special Advisor for Children’s Issues Ambassador Susan Jacobs will visit Guatemala from April 24-25 to accompany Senator Mary Landrieu for meetings on intercountry adoption. She will meet with government officials and nongovernmental adoption stakeholders to discuss the status of U.S. citizen adoption cases that have been pending since the suspension of new adoptions by Guatemala in 2007. She will also discuss Guatemala’s efforts to implement new intercountry adoption safeguards that would provide a path toward future adoption processing.

A downloadable .pdf media advisory on the US Embassy Guatemala website says that Landrieu hoped “to be the voice of approximately 350 families in the United States are still awaiting approval in the process of international adoption.”

Read the pieces in Prensa Libre piece here (en Español) or here via Google Translate (in English). Another is here.


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