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Latino Daily News

Thursday February 9, 2012

War-Torn Guatemalan Family Reunited After 25 yrs

War-Torn Guatemalan Family Reunited After 25 yrs

Photo: Family Separated By War

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A Maya family was reunited Wednesday in this capital 25 years after being separated by the country’s 1960-1996 civil war.

The Mutual Support Group, or GAM, with the help of the International Red Cross, brought Antonio Morales Bartolome together with his parents and daughter, from whom he and his wife were separated in 1987.

GAM’s Enrique Barrera told Efe that it took eight months to determine the whereabouts of Antonio’s parents, Miguel Morales and Maria Bartolome, and daughter Juana.

“It’s a happy occurrence that they found my daughter. I got to know her again. It’s a joy for me to find my family,” said Antonio after embracing his long-lost family members.

The family, including Antonio’s wife, Francisca Ortiz, were living in Casaca Platanar when army troops occupied the community in Huehuetenango province, northwest of Guatemala City.

“Antonio and his wife had gone out to buy groceries in the town of Ixtahuacan and when they returned to their community they saw that the army was arresting people, and thinking they had captured his parents and Juana they decided to flee to Mexico,” Barrera said.

Antonio and Francisca took refuge in a camp in the Mexican state of Chiapas and returned to Guatemala after the peace accord between the government and the guerrillas was signed on Dec. 29, 1996.

They settled in Ixtahuacan Chiquito, a town in Quiche province, bordering Mexico, while his parents and Juana, who were never detained by the soldiers, remained in Casaca Platanar.

Antonio said Wednesday that he cannot return to the place where his parents live because he feels “afraid,” and he added that he will return to Ixtahuacan Chiquito.

“I feel fine,” 26-year-old Juana said, meanwhile, adding that her grandparents always told her that her parents had gone out to buy food but “never returned” for her.

At the reunion, Juana also met her younger brother Ernesto, who had not been born when she was separated from her parents.

Guatemala’s civil war left about 250,000 victims, between the dead and the disappeared, a post-conflict truth commission found. Most of the fatalities were indigenous peasants.