Monday, August 29, 2011

Between Power and Weakness: U.S. v. Guatemala

An essay at Huffington Post by Jacob Wheeler, author of Between Light and Shadow: A Guatemalan Girl's Journey Through Adoption, reacting to the court order that American adoptive parent return their adopted child to the mother from whom she was kidnapped:
Judge Hernandez has given the Monahans 60 days to hand over the girl, and threatened to call the international police agency Interpol if they do not. And that's where the linear story ends. The Monahans' intentions are unknown, but if you honestly think that a judge in small and powerless Guatemala can successfully order a family in the mighty United States to relinquish their child, then you haven't studied the grotesquely one-sided history of U.S.-Guatemala relations.

It was we yanquis who executed a coup d'etat in 1954 to remove democratically-elected Guatemalan President Jacobo Arbenz; used the beautiful countryside as our own banana republic during the Cold War; armed and trained its right-wing military during the brutal, 36-year civil war to further our own foreign policy goals; and forced the CAFTA free trade deal down the throats of Guatemala City's powers-that-be last decade.

The most recent chapter in the unequal relationship between the United States and Guatemala is about international adoption. Last decade, Guatemala became the largest "sending country" in the world for adopted children. Nearly 20,000 Guatemalan children were adopted by American families between 2004 and 2008, and a full 1 percent of all babies born in 2007 in "the land of eternal spring" were relinquished by their birth mothers and adopted abroad.
In the essay, he recounts an episode from his book, when a child adopted at 7 from Guatemala returns at 14 to meet her birth family.  He says he was reminded of the episode by the story of Anyeli/Karen Abigail, ordered by the Guatemalan court to be returned to her biological family:
Of course the girl will return to the United States with Judy on Thursday... The match today here in this jungle in Central America was not going to be fair. In fact, it was fixed to begin with. Two poor Guatemalan boys with no money, no resources, and no valuable passports never really stood a chance against a middle-class white woman from the United States when it came to fighting over the 14-year-old girl they all love and need so badly. At the end of this week Guatemala's most valuable natural resources, its children, will still be leaving the country on airplanes for El Norte, and this particular case will be no different. At the end of the month, Guatemala's role will still be one of subservience to the United States of America.
To the extent that he is prognosticating the fate of Anyeli/Karen Abigail, all I have to say is that I'm afraid he's probably right.


Anonymous said...

After reading this post, I feel like I need to throw up I'm filled with so much dread. I just feel so awful for this little girl, shes being screwed over by a very corrupt system.

"Today is built on tragedies which no one want's to face.
Nightmares to humanity and morally disgraced."


Reena said...

I cannot imagine being in such a nightmarish situation-- from anyone's perspective-- least of all the little girl's!

I cannot imagine the confsuion and magnitude of being scared as a child in the middle of this nightmare.

I cannot imagine the horror of having my child kidnapped, adopted to another country, then told my child would not be returned to me.

I cannot imagine the nightmare of being the aparent who adopted a child who was truly kidnapped. I cannot imagine not having either of my daughters in my life-- but I also cannot imagine raising them knowing they were kidnapped from their rightful family.

So, I guess this is a relly long way of responding that I completely agree with LLG's post.