The Spanish nation has been shaken by allegations of the theft and trafficking of thousands of babies. From as early as the 1930s to as late as 1990, thousands of mothers in Spain were told just after they had given birth that their newborns had died.
But most of the babies hadn’t died, according to a new documentary from the BBC, but were instead taken by doctors, nurses and priests to be given or sold to other families.
The Daily Mail reports that as many as 300,000 babies could have been stolen over fifty years.
Fifty Years Of Stealing Babies From Parents Deemed “Undesirable”
The practice of removing children from parents deemed “undesirable” and placing them with “approved” families, began in the 1930s under the dictator General Francisco Franco.
At that time, the motivation may have been ideological. But years later, babies began to be taken from parents considered morally or economically deficient. It was also clearly a money-spinner.
The scandal is closely linked to the Catholic Church, which under Franco assumed a prominent role in Spain’s social services including hospitals, schools and children’s homes. Nuns and priests compiled waiting lists of would-be adoptive parents, while doctors were said to have lied to mothers about the fate of their children.
In 1971, Manoli Pagador Gave Birth To Healthy Boy Who Suddenly “Died”
Take the case of Manoli Pagador, as reported by BBC News:
In 1971 Manoli, who was 23 at the time and not long married, gave birth to what she was told was a healthy baby boy, but he was immediately taken away for what were called routine tests.
Nine interminable hours passed. “Then, a nun, who was also a nurse, coldly informed me that my baby had died,” she says.
They would not let her have her son’s body, nor would they tell her when the funeral would be.
Did she not think to question the hospital staff?
“Doctors, nuns?” she says, almost in horror. “I couldn’t accuse them of lying. This was Franco’s Spain. A dictatorship. Even now we Spaniards tend not to question authority.”
Story Exploded This Year: My “Father” Is Not My Father
The scale of the baby trafficking was unknown until this year, when two men discovered that their parents were not their real parents. The truth was revealed as Juan Luis Moreno’s “father” lay on his deathbed and told his son that he had been purchased from a priest as a baby. When Moreno, along with Antonio Barroso, who had the same story, went to the press, the story exploded.
After Franco’s death in 1975, the major political parties agreed an amnesty to help smooth the transition to democracy. But this amnesty law has never been repealed, so attempts to investigate Spain’s baby trafficking as a national crime against humanity have been rejected by the country’s judiciary.
Babies’ Graves Reveal Nothing But Piles Of Stones
Babies’ graves have been dug up across the country for DNA-testing. Some have revealed nothing but a pile of stones, while others have contained adult remains. And Spaniards have flocked to clinics to take DNA tests in the hope of reuniting their families.
And In Argentina….Mothers Of the Plaza de Mayo
All this is eerily reminiscent of Argentina, where the Mothers of the Plaza de Mayo was formed by women who came together in the course of trying to find their missing sons and daughters, who were abducted by agents of the Argentine government during the years known as the Dirty War (1976–1983). As many as 30,000 children “disappeared” at this time, in exactly the same circumstances.
This is a cruel and tragic story, and kudos to the BBC for revealing it. In doing so, let’s hope they prevent babies from ever disappearing in this way again.
Take Action Now!
The Spanish government promised to set up a national DNA database so that children and families can get some answers, but has so far not fulfilled its promise. Please sign our petition asking them to set up this database immediately.
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