A painful chapter of Spain's 1936-39 Civil War - the removal of children from mothers who were political opponents to be adopted out or even sold - has an even more painful sequel. As many as 30,000 children may have been removed from women identified with the politics of the losing side under the regime of Francisco Franco.
The surprise for Spaniards has been that the practice of removing and even selling babies continued into the mid 1990s. "A great many Spaniards" had been affected by the scandal, which took place "over a prolonged period of time," Attorney-general Candido Conde-Pumpido told the media. Activists claim that of the 2 million adoptions in Spain between 1940 and 1980, 10%, or 200,000 involved false documentation. In June Conde-Pumpido announced that prosecutors are investigating 849 cases of stolen children; 162 cases have been referred for trial and only 38 have been dropped for lack of evidence.
Anadir, a lobby group for people searching for lost children or parents, says that baby-snatching began as a punishment for Republican women but became an underground money-spinner even after Spain became a democracy in 1978. The founder, 41-year-old Antonio Barroso, discovered only three years ago that he had been purchased for 200,000 pesetas (the Spanish currency that preceded the euro). Other tragic stories have emerged from recent investigations. Mothers who brought flowers to their baby's grave for 30 years discovered empty coffins when the child was exhumed. Hospital paperwork about "deceased" twins has turned out to be fraudulent. The investigations are just beginning. ~ AP, June 17