On March 29th, 2011 the Salvadoran government is planning several days of events to honor the children that were disappeared during the country’s 13 year long Civil war. These events include concerts as well as breakfast with the president of El Salvador, Mauricio Funes and his wife. Myself and six other adopted Salvadoran/Americans are hoping to attend these events. This is an important turning point in the history of El Salvador and a huge opportunity for our voices to be heard. With some help we can return to the country which, until now, denied our existence and begin to effect meaningful change.
The History: During the civil war in El Salvador many children were separated from their families. Some were forcibly taken by the military while others where lost in the chaos of war. After being taken from their families the children were then put up for adoption and sold to unknowing parents. They were adopted in El Salvador and to the rest of the world. Now adults, many of us are trying to piece together what happened during the war and how to reconcile the events of the past.
Now, for the first time, the government is taking steps to recognize and promote awareness of what happened . The other week I received word from Pro-Busqueda, an organization dedicated to reuniting the family’s of the disappeared, the Salvadoran government is planning a number of events around the day of the disappeared.
On March 11, 2005, the Human Rights Court ruled in the case of Serrano Cruz Sisters v. El Salvador, initiated by the girls disappearance of Ernestina and Erlinda Serrano Cruz, the first 7 years of age and the second 3 years old, which occurred in June 1982, in Chalatenango.
At sentencing, the Court established, as a remedy, the obligation of the Salvadoran State to designate a day dedicated to children who disappeared during the internal armed conflict in order to sensitize society on the need for Salvadorans working together to find the best solutions that lead to the truth about the whereabouts of the children.
On January 5, 2007, the Legislature declared March 29 of each year, “Day dedicated to missing children during the armed conflict.”
Since then, or even before-the commemoration activities around that date have been driven solely by the victims themselves and by the Association for the search, while mostly state institutions had remained aloof from them.
However, this will not be anymore. When the January 16, 2010, as part of the celebration of the eighteenth anniversary of the signing of the Peace Accords, President of the Republic, my dear husband, apologized to the child victims of conflict, took the decision to take, as appropriate, the responsibility to mark the Day of missing children in the spirit that established the Court, ie, as a remedy for victims whose end, to promote national awareness children victims of disappearance and to promote joint efforts of all sectors to find them and give them back their rights have been violated.
Some of the Salvadoran/American adoptees are planing a trip to El Salvador in March because they feel this is a big step for the Salvadoran government and could be a turning point for the country. Their goal is simple: to be heard.
During wars, when someone is disappeared they are rarely heard from ever again. Most vanish without a trace. With these events we are being given a chance to connect with other disappeared children in a moment of solidarity. I hope to meet with one of them at SXSW, so may report back with more details on their initiative.