Subject: Guatemala starts crackdown on illegal baby trade
From: Bruce Harris - Casa Alianza (email@example.com)
Date: Thu Apr 06 2000 - 21:31:16 EDT
05 Apr 2000
Guatemala starts crackdown on illegal baby trade:
The Independent newspaper, UK
By JAN MCGIRK LATIN AMERICA CORRESPONDENT
ESPERANZA TEMA had almost given up hope: her only daughter,
whom she had
never seen, had gone missing from the Guatemalan clinic where
she was born
six months ago.
But Baby Esperanza turned up last weekend when police,
investigating a gang
that sells newborn infants to adoptive parents in France and Spain,
four houses in Guatemala City and found a kidnapped baby in each.
Prosecutors in Guatemala City are cracking down on the lucrative
international baby trade, which accounts for 95 per cent of
this poor Central American country.
Pressure to act grew after the release of a United Nations report
which described how "baby farms" provide infants for Western
to pay Dollars 25,000 (pounds 15,600) for a healthy child.
Ms Tema, nuzzling her daughter and blinking back tears, said she
was made to
sip a bitter liquid during labour. "They gave me a drink that must
alcoholic." It knocked her out for hours. When she woke, her baby
She agreed to show police residences she had visited with Lucinda
an educated woman accused of tricking her into signing away her
attorney and they recovered her daughter.
Another woman, Maria Lopez, was reunited with her stolen baby,
Jose, on the
same night. Ms Bautiza was taken in for questioning while search
the offices of two lawyers were prepared, though no arrests have
Meanwhile, thousands of genuine orphans languish in under-funded
homes until they are too old for any chance of life outside the
institutions. It can take up to seven years to process papers for
adoptions without resorting to criminal short-cuts. Government
confirmed that 1,332 Guatemalan babies were placed with
foreigners in 1998.
Lawyers, eager to earn 50 times the typical fee for a private
Guatemala, tend to expedite the sale of babies abroad.
Ofelia Calcetas-Santos, a UN childcare official who visited
said poor women were often "contracted" to produce babies and
away. Pregnant prostitutes or indigent single mothers were
threatened or tricked into handing over their children, she said. If
changed their minds, like the mothers of Esperanza and Jose, their
were stolen from them.
Outraged that the collusion of attorneys and criminals reduced
"commercial objects to be offered to the highest bidders", Ms
Santos urged Guatemala to pass long-delayed laws regulating
to ensure private adoptions were eliminated. Her report concluded
attempts should be made to place babies with Guatemalan parents
international adoptions should only be a last resort.
Leonel Lopez Rodas, president of the Guatemalan Congress,
admitted to Ms
Calcetas-Santos that he knew of widespread baby-selling in his
assured her he was pushing for an adoption Bill to become law.
The Guatemala City prosecutor, Candito Breman, said he believed
for the four kidnapped babies had been tipped off about the raid.
before police arrived they fled, leaving the infants unattended. The
appeared healthy and all had been lodged in well-to-do homes.
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