Guatemalan army stole children for adoption, report says

By | September 12, 2009

The Guatemalan army stole at least 333 children and sold them for adoption in other countries during the Central American nation’s 36-year civil war, a government report has concluded

Many of those children ended up in the United States, as well as Sweden, Italy and France, said the report’s author and lead investigator, Marco Tulio Alvarez.

In some cases, the report said, parents were killed so the children could be taken and given to government-operated agencies to be adopted abroad. In other instances, the children were abducted without physical harm to the parents.

“This was a great abuse by the state,” Alvarez told CNN on Friday.

Investigators started examining records in May 2008 for a period that spanned from 1977-89, said Alvarez, the director of the Guatemalan Peace Archive, a commission established by President Alvaro Colom.

Of 672 records investigators looked at, Alvarez said, they determined that 333 children had been stolen. The children were taken for financial and political reasons, he said.

Alvarez acknowledges that many more children possibly were taken. Investigators zeroed in on the 1977-89 period because peak adoptions occurred during that time frame, particularly in 1986. They will investigate through 1995 and hope to have another report ready by early next year, he said.

A presidential ministry has determined that about 45,000 people disappeared during the nation’s civil war, which lasted from 1960 to 1996. About 5,000 of those were children, the ministry said. Another 200,000 people died in the conflict between the leftist guerrillas and right-wing governments.

The nation’s public ministry and attorney general’s office will determine whether anyone is prosecuted over the abductions, Alvarez said.

via Guatemalan army stole children for adoption, report says – CNN.com.

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