Posts Tagged ‘President Alvaro Colom’

New Yorker article on the death of Rodrigo Rosenberg

Saturday, April 2nd, 2011

This week’s issue of The New Yorker (April 4, 2011) contains a riveting article about the death of Guatemalan attorney Rodrigo Rosenberg that should be read by anyone interested in the country or adoption. A Murder Foretold: Unravelling the Ultimate Political Conspiracy by David Grann begins this way:

Rodrigo Rosenberg knew that he was about to die. It wasn’t because he was approaching old age—he was only forty-eight. Nor had he been diagnosed with a fatal illness; an avid bike rider, he was in perfect health. Rather, Rosenberg, a highly respected corporate attorney in Guatemala, was certain that he was going to be assassinated.

Not only is Rosenberg’s death a tragedy, it occurred under circumstances so tangled and unbelievable, you must must read the entire article to appreciate its impact. The more people understand why a man would be driven to do what Rosenberg did, perhaps the more they will care about Guatemala, and the less Rosenberg’s death will have been in vain. For purposes of this blog, which deals with adoption, I will focus on a few early paragraphs, because they lay out the context in which adoption to the United States occurred:

Rosenberg had frequently expressed despair over the violence that consumed Guatemala. In 2007, a joint study by the United Nations and the World Bank ranked it as the third most murderous country. Between 2000 and 2009, the number of killings rose steadily, ultimately reaching sixty-four hundred. The murder rate was nearly four times higher than Mexico’s. In 2009, fewer civilians were reported killed in the war zone of Iraq than were shot, stabbed, or beaten to death in Guatemala.

The violence can be traced to a civil war between the state and leftist rebels, a three-decade struggle that, from 1960 to 1996, was the dirtiest of Latin America’s dirty wars. More than two hundred thousand people were killed or “disappeared.” According to a U.N.-sponsored commission, at least ninety per cent of the killings were carried out by the state’s military forces or by paramilitary death squads with names like Eye for an Eye.


In 1996, the government reached a peace accord with the rebels, and it was supposed to mark a new era of democracy and rule of law. But amnesty was granted for even the worst crimes, leaving no one accountable. 


After the peace accord, the state’s security apparatus—death squads, intelligence units, police officers, military counter-insurgency forces—did not disappear but, rather, mutated into criminal organizations. Amounting to a parallel state, these illicit networks engage in arms trafficking, money laundering, extortion, human smuggling, black-market adoptions, and kidnapping for ransom. The networks also control an exploding drug trade. Latin America’s cartels, squeezed by the governments of Colombia and Mexico, have found an ideal sanctuary in Guatemala, and most of the cocaine entering America now passes through the country. Criminal networks have infiltrated virtually every government and law-enforcement agency, and more than half the country is no longer believed to be under the control of any government at all. Citizens, deprived of justice, often form lynch mobs, or they resolve disputes, even trivial ones, by hiring assassins.

I personally would like to know what author David Grann means by “black-market adoptions.” Use of an alias on paperwork? Change of a birth date? The omission of the name of a husband when one existed? None of those things are “right,” but they are a far cry from baby-snatching, which is what “black-market adoptions” implies, at least to me.  Perhaps Grann simply is saying that adoption was handled in a manner he observed often in Guatemala. As my lawyer once told me during my daughter’s adoption, “Things are different here.”

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U.S. State Department notice on pending adoptions in Guatemala

Saturday, February 5th, 2011

The U.S. State Department has issued a notice about Ambassador Susan Jacobs’ December 2010 meetings in Guatemala with President Colom and other officials involved with intercountry adoption. The notice is dated February 3, 2011. As someone who has navigated the Guatemalan adoption process, I believe the most telling statement regarding the meetings is this:

The Office of Children’s Issues (CI) was encouraged by the positive reception on the recent trip, but the process for resolving the final grandfathered caseload remains complex.  Pending Guatemalan investigations and court processes must still be resolved, on which a strict timeline cannot be imposed. 

In other words, resolution will not be easy, and it is not going to happen overnight. But here’s the good news:

  • The Guatemalan government is holding frequent working group meetings to evaluate pending cases and make decisions regarding next steps.
  • The U.S. Embassy is checking in frequently with the working group to monitor its progress.
  • Why is this news good? Because Americans citizens with pending adoptions need advocacy in-country, on the ground. The U.S. government has  promised to check in “frequently.” Great news. Let’s hope the State Department holds to this promise.   

    Another important point as posted previously on this blog:

    On December 20, 2010 Ambassador Jacobs and Alison Dilworth hosted a conference call for prospective adoptive parents to report on their December trip.  During the call they asked that all adopting parents with grandfathered cases send their case information to to be sure their cases are included on the master list that CI and the Embassy are compiling.  This information was also solicited on the adoptions website.

    In response to this request CI has received 63 responses from adopting parents.  As a reminder, in order to be considered grandfathered, the case must meet both U.S. and Guatemalan requirements. 

    If you know someone with a pending case, urge them to send an email to This is critical in order for the State Department to get a handle on the “universe of cases.”

    Finally, this:

    The Guatemalan working group met on January 21, 2011 and will meet weekly.  The institutions that participated in this first meeting were the PGN, CNA, MP, and CICIG.  The Embassy communicates with each of the institutions that participates in the working group on a regular basis.

    From my reading, these weekly Guatemalan working group meetings are the crucial conduit through which the pending cases will be resolved. May they stay focused on the task at hand.