January 2009 Delegation, thru end of Week 1

January 15, 2009


Olga Angelica Lopez whose 19-day old daughter was stolen from her.

The thieves faked DNA test results and put the baby up for adoption. The adoptive parents paid over $50,000 for her child, so there is clearly money to be made in this business. When she went to the Ministerio Publico (Guatemala’s equivalent of the DA), they accused her of selling her baby, and now having regrets about it. She is working to contact the family in the U.S. and have a second DNA test done.

The way the first test was faked is probably this: a woman posing as the baby’s mother, and her own baby show up together for the DNA test. But no other identifying data is collected from the baby, like footprints or handprints. Then, when it’s time to send the baby, a different baby is substituted for the one that was tested. Of course, once the baby is in the U.S. it is presumed to be a legitimate adoption, and it is hard to get a follow-up test.


After hearing from three survivors on Tuesday, and one more Wednesday morning, it was a welcome break to get out of the city, and visit San Juan, a small town about an hour away. We met a group of indigenous women who shared their lives with our student delegates.

Again, our delegates didn’t let any language barrier keep them from sharing their humanity with their Guatemalan sisters.

We got to hang out for a little while at the main market in San Juan. This market is not set up for visitors, it is the where the locals shop.

January 16, 2009

After hearing the stories of several survivors, we had a number of legal questions, and we got to meet two of the


staff attorneys from Fundacion Sobrevivientes,
an organization our founder, Lucia Munoz, worked with before MIA even existed.

Sobrevivientes’s attorneys gave us a small taste of the uphill battle they face trying to get justice for their clients in Guatemala, describing some of their past and existing cases. Several of their clients, finding no justice from the Ministerio Publico (like our D.A.), come to Fundacion Sobrevivientes. In Guatemala, a private party can prosecute a criminal matter, and this is a legal tool Sobrevivientes uses to fight impunity.


In the evening, we visited H.I.J.O.S., formed by and for the surviving family members of those killed in the armed conflict (1960-1996). In addition to advancing their own issues, H.I.J.O.S. helps other organizations advance their causes.


Filiberto gives us a briefing on what H.I.J.O.S. is up to these days.

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