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El mercado de los bebés de España EDITADO

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Imagine the grief a mother would feel on hearing her baby had died during childbirth. Then imagine, what it would be like to find out that the baby had survived and had been sold secretly to someone else. Yeah, that’s what happened in Spain, with official collusion during the long years of General Franco’s rule. Now, thousands of parents are seeking their lost children, and children are seeking their lost parents, and all of them want justice. The rhythm of life plays out in a busy Madrid maternity hospital. In one room, a mom dotes over her newborn as she prepares to take her baby home. Nearby, in a delivery ward, another baby is about to arrive. A mother in the final stages of labor, an expectant father proudly looking on. In Spain, around half a million new babies arrive kicking and screaming every year, but for generations in this country, that most natural and joyful event has become a horror story. For countless thousands of parents, this is a scenario denied, and in its place, grief, anger and an aching sense of loss. We’re about to meet just a few of them, each with a very different version of the same story of little lives stolen and sold. This is the place where 40 years ago, somebody walked through these gates and went inside there, and had a baby. There’s this son trying to find his birth mother. We’ve always thought the coffin was empty. A woman looking for her sister, trying to unlock the truth hidden in a little white box. We didn’t deserve him… The desperate father, who bought a son. I am stunned. I can’t believe what is happening. And the two friends trying to find out, what happened to their children. The scandal now gripping Spain, had its roots in a distant and very callous time in the nation’s history. During and after the Civil War in the 1930s and 40s, General Franco’s dictatorship devised a plan to weaken their enemies. Take babies from their Republican parents and give them to respectable families, who supported the regime. It appears that set the moral compass for what was to follow. Doctors and nurses in public and church run clinics involved in the theft, and in many cases, the sale of babies born to poor powerless mothers. Told their child had died at birth, their babies were then adopted out. They were falsified signatures. I was told my child was not born. In Valencia, two friends share a cab ride to town and hopefully, some answers. In those days, you’d never imagine anyone doing that to you. Amidst Valencia’s astounding modern architecture, is the building many see as their only hope of recovering a stolen past. Vicen Bono on the left, said she was told two of her babies died at birth, and her friend and neighbor Braulia Banderas Franco was also told her baby had died. Now, she believes, that is a lie. Do you believe that your son is out there somewhere 28, 29 years old now? Of course he is. In the beginning, it was difficult to understand what was happening, but now I walk along the street watching. If this has happened, why shouldn’t I be able to find him if he’s alive? Both these women suspect their children were stolen by hospital staff and sold. Vicen has come to the Valencia Courthouse to start a legal process her friend Braulia has already begun gathering documents to push for exhumation. Braulia’s search has already uncovered a trial of dodgy paperwork starting with the birth certificate. My husband’s signature is forged. That’s not his signature. The clinic where I gave birth is false. The doctors are false. Everything is forged. It says that he died at midday, and that’s not true. Everything is a lie. What does that tell you about what happened? That there is something strange going on that is not normal. If that document was genuine, my doctor would be on there, and the name of the clinic and my husband’s signature would not be forged. Emerging from the courthouse, armed with a new file of medical records, the two friends are heading home to pour through the evidence. It’s a long time ago, but are those feelings still strong, are they still raw? At the moment, no, it is the opposite. I am like at the border of a miracle. I’m by the doors of a mystery. It’s like life is giving me a second opportunity. It was very unfair that they took my children and I know that it is very difficult to find them. Now, I have a reason to continue living. [Music] Vicen Bono did go on to raise another son. He is fully behind his mother’s quest to discover the truth about his missing siblings. [Music] I want to be at peace. At the moment, I can’t be. I want the court to order the exhumation of both babies, and to examine my DNA with their DNA. Only then could I be in peace. The only way to know is with the exhumation of the bodies. [Music] [Group Discussion] What started as a single story in a newspaper late last year, has triggered hundreds of legal claims and thousands of questions. This is a meeting in Valencia Anaddeh, a new organization dedicated to reuniting families and getting justice for them. Here, mothers line up to give DNA swabs with birth records falsified, missing or incomplete. This new DNA database may be their only hope. We can’t solve everything because we have… okay, the tool has limit of course, as any other tool, but yeah, it’s a solution for a lot of things. [Speech in foreign language] No one really knows the full extent of what went on, but lawyers involved in cases estimate around 300,000 illegal adoptions took place, and around 50,000 of them were outright thefts, [Speech in foreign language] where poor young mothers were told their babies had died at birth, only to be given to another family, considered more suitable. A transaction, often greased with cash. [Speech in foreign language] It was very easy for a doctor to deceive the biological mother and tell her that her child had died, and then hand it to the family he chose. There was no control on behalf of the administration. There were many doctors who became very wealthy doing this. [Music] It’s claimed doctors, nuns and others conspire to deceive not just the mothers, but the children themselves, whom it appears, were given new identities. Birth certificates stating their adopting parents are their biological mothers and fathers, creating a virtually untraceable lie that only DNA tests can expose. [Music] If the parents who bought them do not come forward, there isn’t much the judge can do. If they don’t know in which hospital he was born, we can’t get hold of the records. What’s more important is the creation of the DNA databases. The more people register, the more likelihood of there being a match. [Bell Sound] For Valencia based lawyer, Enrique Vila, this is both a professional and personal quest. While he represents some of those demanding prosecutions, he says, he too was adopted illegally and can’t trace his birth mother. [Bell Sound] From what you understand now, should some of those doctors be in jail? Without a doubt! Some of those doctors are still alive and practicing, and there is enough evidence to convict them. But for there to be a market for this blackest of trades, there needed to be buyers. [Music] Amidst the rural tranquility of Ontinyent near Valencia, lives a man tormented by what he did thirty years ago. [Music] Manuel Espi always knew it was illegal, but unable to have their own children back in 1982, he and his wife bought a baby boy from a clinic in nearby Valencia. They named him Lucas. [Music] He was beautiful, and there was something different about him unique. Although small, he was already well-liked by people. He pulled faces and facial expressions and charmed people. But this was no simple transaction. Over the coming months, there were demands for more and more money essentially an extortion racket with menaces pay up or lose your child. When I told them that I was going to report, they asked me whether I wanted to go to goal. They told me you must pay. [Music] Eventually, after paying the equivalent of 4 years wages, the paperwork stating Lucas was their natural born son was provided, but even then it was unsigned and of course, a fraud. [Music] I always felt remorse. [Music] I have carried this burden for these last 21 years. Finally, I can let go of it. When Lucas died, my wife said, we only had 18 years to enjoy him. But I said, ‘No, we enjoyed him for 18 years’, which is not the same. [Music] Lucas Espi and his girlfriend were just 18, when both were killed in a terrible accident, when a gas tank exploded. [Music] We were always grateful to Lucas. I always loved him, still love him, and will always love him. Lucas was a precocious, peculiar and unique boy who left his mark not just with me, but with people. He was a unique person. That’s why I even thought that we lost Lucas because we were being punished for being selfish. We didn’t deserve him…we didn’t deserve him. [Music] Certainly the breadth and scale of the baby trade appears huge, but precisely how big, may be impossible to measure. [Music] In the Catalan city of Barcelona, tourists and locals alike are drawn to the gaudy landmarks like this extraordinary church. But there is another city on a Barcelona hill that tourists don’t visit, housing the departed in multistoreyed vaults, where evidence of a dark past is literally buried. But for increasing numbers not for long because in these valleys of the dead in Barcelona and beyond, there are answers set to be exhumed. Officially, Muria Polethia Cruz’s sister was stillborn. Her little body placed in a white coffin in the family vault. Muria doesn’t believe it and wants the coffin opened, and any remains, DNA tested. If you get permission to open that box, what do you think is inside? A doll wrapped in bandages. My parents always said that, and I think so too. That box remains the same after 36 years. Is it possible that the horrible reality is that your sister did die just exactly as the doctors said? No, the baby was not dead. They weighed her, washed her, cut her umbilical cord. That’s the first thing I discovered. The second is on the certificate, my father’s signature. It’s not his. My sister is not in that box. My sister was sold. [Music] Already, coffins in other cases have been opened. In one instance, the skeleton found inside was not a baby girl as it should have been, but a boy. And of course, the DNA didn’t match. [Music] Muria Polethia Cruz is heading to the court to demand her sister’s coffin be opened, and the prosecution of those she blames for the theft of a sister she’s never known. [Music] While there are nearly a thousand investigations already under way, no one, doctors included, has yet been charged, and many of the private clinics where it’s alleged these crimes took place, have, like the paper trail, disappeared. The nuns and doctors who once ran this private Madrid clinic have long gone. It’s now an old people’s home. But questions remain about the fate of some of the babies born in this place. [Music] One of the really frustrating parts of telling this story is the lack of documentary evidence, and perhaps, that’s for very good reason. The people that used to work here are hardly making themselves available to tell their side of the story. But there is one man who has some very chilling evidence of what was going on here at least 30 years ago. [Music] Thank you so much for seeing me. Herman Gallego is a semi-retired photographer who, three decades ago, was tipped off about the clinic by a staff member. He’s about to show me the pictures he took there late at night for an exposé published in a magazine. And a warning, these are disturbing images. I arrived, it was winter, very cold. They opened a gate and I entered a room that was very small, and there were freezers. The person took out a child, it was a girl, and put it there and I took a photo. What was your understanding of what the baby was there for, what was the purpose? I knew why it was there. They had it to show the mothers who wanted to see their dead child. They were told their child is dead, although it wasn’t, but they showed them the dead child that was kept in the freezer. Herman Gallego says there were other babies in the freezer to mix and match according to nate. I had worked in current affairs magazines when I was young, but it still affects me. These children were bought and sold as if you were buying an apartment. It was crazy. I don’t know how it happened. But what of the children who were switched in this macabre deception, sold sometimes overseas, and who grew up utterly unaware of their true heritage. Shuttling into this murky saga is a man who was raised American and comes from Texas. It wasn’t until he was a father himself, showing off his baby son at a family gathering, that the truth came out. At some point during that conversation, my grandmother looked at me and said, ‘Well, you know you don’t carry my blood.’ And, that’s how I found out. [Music] When confronted, his father admitted that he had paid $5000 to buy Randy as a newborn. It floored me. I mean, at the age of 28, to find out that the people you thought were your parents are not your parents, and the style of the way I found out… it was just really incredible. [Music] With both his adoptive parents now dead, Randy Ryder has come to Malaga, the place he thinks he was born and sold. But tracking down his past is no easy task. There is no identifying information. It just has seemed to have vanished…everything has vanished. The hospital has vanished, the records have vanished, the birth records were falsified. Everything is just either falsified or it’s gone magically just disappeared. [Music] Sure enough, his birth records falsely state his adopted parents were his biological mother and father, both of whom are no longer alive. Randy has one strong lead Dr. Manuel Munoz Nater, the doctor who 40 years earlier delivered him and signed the birth certificate. When they met, Randy had a catalog of questions. How it’s possible that he was able to sign his name to a document, a legal, national Spanish document, verifying and certifying that this woman gave birth to me, without any sort of identity checks, without…I just can’t imagine that any reputable doctor would do such a thing. [Guitar Sound] As he wanders the streets and sites of Malaga, he could be any other tourist. But Randy is not looking at the buildings or monuments, but rather searching for one special person the woman who gave birth to him 40 years and 1 day ago. [Guitar Sound] There are these occasional moments where you wonder, ‘Okay, this could’ve been the street where, you know, somebody from my past was walking along or maybe somebody worked over here, and so, there is that sort of, you know, strange connection that you have. And, you think about those kinds of things. The day that I wonder mostly of those kinds of things is whenever my birthday rolls around, I always think about that, because I know that, if she’s alive, and that is indeed my birthday, I know we’re thinking about the same thing at that moment. [Speech in foreign language] Another solid piece of evidence is still standing, although they're now commercial offices, this once was a private maternity clinic, the place he was born. I’m just thinking about…you know, this is the place where 40 years ago, roughly, somebody walked through these gates and went inside there, and had a baby. - Wow! That’s quite amazing architecture here. - It’s a beautiful building. Yeah. One of these rooms could’ve been the room where I was born, where my biological mother had me. And then, somewhere along here, somewhere in this process, that hand-off was made to the adopted parents. [Music] Spanish prosecutors are already investigating nearly 900 cases. There could be thousands more to come. It may have happened decades ago, but the effects for all are raw and very much in the present. [Music] What do you dream of your perfect ending to this story, how does it go? It’s really simple; it’s just being able to piece the puzzle together. I mean, a lot of this I was doing for myself, but a lot of it I was doing to, sort of, put together a picture for my son, for the next generation our story, you know, it would be nice to be able to explain to your offspring, where you come from and who you are, and who they are. [Music]

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Duration: 24 minutes and 38 seconds
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Language: English
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Posted by: dave73085 on Jan 18, 2018

El mercado de los bebés de España EDITADO

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