Guatemalan army stole children for adoption, report says

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.

Around 45,000 people are believed to have disappeared during Guatemala’s civil war, 5,000 of them children.

More after the jump.

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.

Around 45,000 people are believed to have disappeared during Guatemala's civil war, 5,000 of them children.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.”

Adoption has served as a source of income in Guatemala for decades. The war just made it easier for abuses at the hands of soldiers to occur.

Guatemala has the world’s highest per capital rate of adoption and is one of the leading providers of adoptive children for the United States. Nearly one in 100 babies born in Guatemala end up with adoptive parents in the United States, according to the U.S. consulate in Guatemala.

Adoptions can cost up to $30,000, providing a large financial incentive in a country where the World Bank says about 75 percent of the people live below the poverty level. Officials fear that often times mothers are paid — or coerced — into giving up their children.

“We have to tell the truth about what happened,” he said. “Guatemalan society must know what happened and must never allow it to happen again.”


As someone who lived in Guatemala for most of his life, I’m very torned with this. On one hand, it is morally wrong to steal children and sell them like that, as if they are items for bidding. On the other hand, not just anybody has over 30 grand to adopt a kid. Granted, maybe some of these kids ended up in other countries as servants or something along those lines. But I want to believe that others managed to find a better life than what they could’ve achieved in Guatemala. I mean, I love the country, but it has so many problems. The chance of succeeding over there is as much as that of trying to outrun a lion in the jungle. Very very hard.

In this case, I guess, their families have to know, if they want to find out what happened to their children. The children, now adults, are allowed to know. But everyone else? I dont know, this is one of those things similar to Watchmen, where some things should just be kept under lock and key, and just move on.

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