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Cablegate: Argentina: Ngo "Quienes Somos?" Fights Against

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DE RUEHBU #0389/01 0881853
ZNR UUUUU ZZH (CCY AD767191 MSI6925-695)
P 281853Z MAR 08
FM AMEMBASSY BUENOS AIRES
TO SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 0593

UNCLAS BUENOS AIRES 000389

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SENSITIVE
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C O R R E C T E D COPY CAPTION
G/TIP FOR BARBARA FLECK AND MARK FORSTROM
WHA/PPC FOR SCOTT MILLER
WHA/BSC FOR DRUCKER, FRIEDMAN, SHOWELL

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: ASEC KCRM PHUM PREL SMIG PGOV AR
SUBJECT: ARGENTINA: NGO "QUIENES SOMOS?" FIGHTS AGAINST
CHILD TRAFFICKING FOR ILLEGAL ADOPTIONS


1. (SBU) Summary: Ambassador Wayne recently met with
representatives from the NGO "Quienes Somos?" ("Who are
We?"), an organization that promotes legislation against
child trafficking for illegal adoptions and lobbies the
Argentine government (GOA) to assist in their efforts to
uncover their true biological identity. NGO representatives
explained that the organization was founded in 2002 by
individuals who discovered over time that they were illegally
adopted by their parents. Since then, the NGO has helped 80
individuals recover their true identity. Although they have
met with the GOA's Human Rights Secretariat to request
assistance in obtaining access to civil registries for birth
records, they claim that the Secretariat has told them that
the Secretariat's focus is only on illegal adoptions that
took place during the 1976-83 military regime. In addition
to advocating legislation that criminalizes trafficking in
children for the purposes of illegal adoption and public
access to civil registries, "Quienes Somos?" also lobbies for
the simplification of Argentina's adoption laws to help
alleviate the problem. The Ambassador told the NGO's
representatives that fighting trafficking in persons (TIP)
for sexual and labor exploitation, as well as illegal
adoptions, is a top Embassy priority. He encouraged them to
work with other NGOs who are working on these issues. Pol
off has subsequently introduced the organization's leaders to
other anti-TIP activists and has helped the organization to
schedule a meeting with Post's Information Resources Center
to learn more about NGOs working on similar issues in the
United States. End Summary.

2. (SBU) On February 13, Ambassador Wayne met with Luis
Verdina, President of the NGO "Who are We?" (Quienes Somos?),
an organization that promotes legislation against child
trafficking for illegal adoptions and fights for the right to
identity. Verdina was accompanied by Graciela Palma and
Maria Rosa Pallone who are also members of the organization.
The Ambassador began the meeting by asking about the
organization's mission. Verdina replied that the NGO was
founded in 2002 by individuals who discovered over time that
they were illegally adopted by their parents. He explained
that illegal adoptions did not begin with the 1976-83
military dictatorship, when infants of leftist dissidents in
captivity were illegally adopted by military families. The
members of "Quienes Somos?" are living proof that trafficking
in children for the purposes of illegal adoption has always
existed and continues to exist in Argentina, he claimed.
Palma added that the organization does not seek to punish
their families for adopting them illegally, focusing instead
on requesting government assistance at the federal,
provincial, and municipal levels in obtaining access to civil
registries in order to obtain birth records.

3. (SBU) The Ambassador asked whether the organization has
met with the GOA's Secretariat of Human Rights. Verdina
indicated that the NGO met with HR Secretary Luis Duhalde,
but claimed that Duhalde stated that the GOA focused only on
illegal adoptions during the last military regime (1976-83).
Verdina stated that the organization is working to press the
government to assist them in their efforts to recover their
identity and noted that the right to identity is enshrined in
Argentina's 1994 constitution. Through the NGO's efforts, 80
individuals have been able to discover their true identity,
Verdina stated.

4. (SBU) Verdina indicated that many members, like Pallone,
discover that they were illegally adopted when they learn
that they have a hereditary medical condition that does not
run in their adoptive families. Since members do not know
their true families' medical history, this not only
prejudices the individual who was illegally adopted, but also
the families that they themselves have created, he argued.
In addition to advocating legislation that criminalizes
trafficking in children for the purposes of illegal adoption
and public access to civil registries, "Quienes Somos?" also
lobbies for the simplification of Argentina's adoption laws.
Verdina explained that Argentina's adoption laws are so
complicated that many couples who wish to adopt children feel
compelled to do so illegally.

5. (SBU) Verdina also asserted that the GOA should consider
this not only as a matter of human rights bus also one of
security-- since their members were illegally adopted, they
often have multiple identification documents with different
names, and false date and place of birth. He estimated that
up to 3 million Argentines do not know their true biological
identity, quoting a UNICEF study that stated that 35 percent
of Argentina's 9 million indigent population were abandoned
as children. He asserted that in the province of Santiago
del Estero, only 2 out of every 10 children are registered


and that a judge in Rio Negro province has denounced
hospitals for not registering births. He also claimed that
in the NGO's interviews with residents of Castelar, Buenos
Aires province, a now defunct clinic may have trafficked up
to 5,000 children for illegal adoptions.

6. (SBU) Verdina stated that individuals in similar
situations from other countries in the region and around the
world have contacted the organization to learn more about
their efforts to uncover identity. The organization hopes to
expand its membership base to include individuals in theregion and eventually take its cause to the United Nations,
he stated. The Ambassador thanked Verdina and his colleagues
for briefing him on their organization's activities and
encouraged them to work with other NGOs who are working to
combat trafficking in persons, noting that this is a top
Embassy priority. Poloff subsequently introduced the group
to the Maria de los Angeles anti-trafficking foundation run
by the 2007 International Woman of Courage award winner
Susana Trimarco. Poloff has also since helped the
organization to schedule a meeting with Post's Information
Resources Center to learn more about NGOs working on similar
issues in the United States.
WAYNE

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