Dear Gutemala900 Families and Advocates,
Senators Landrieu and Blunt are co-sponsoring a letter from Congress to the Guatemalan Minister of Foreign Affairs! The more congressional signatures that are on the letter, the more weigh it will carry and the greater potential it has to have an effect. PLEASE contact your Congressional representatives and ask them to participate in helping break this terrible cycle.
The letter closes next Wednesday, November 13h, at 12 pm.
If your Congressional representative is interested in signing, please have them Libby Whitbeck at Senator Landrieu’s office. Any questions can also be emailed to Libby, whose email is Libby_Whitbeck@landrieu.senate.gov.
The text of the letter follows :
November 6, 2013
Luis Fernando Carrera Castro
Minister of Foreign Affairs
Guatemalan Ministry of Foreign Affairs
Dear Minister Carrera:
We want to thank the Guatemalan Ministry of Foreign Affairs for its continued commitment to resolving the remaining inter-country adoption cases involving Guatemalan children and American prospective adoptive families. As you know, these cases have been pending for nearly six years, and as a result the children have languished in institutions without a legal family. While we are aware of the September 2013 notice from the Guatemalan Embassy in Washington, indicating that Vice President Roxanna Baldetti is now directly involved in resolving all outstanding cases by the end of 2013, we are reminded that similar promises made on six prior occasions were not kept. In addition, recent events cause us to be concerned that these cases may not be completed by the projected December 31, 2013 deadline.
In the past year, approximately 25 children have been connected with families in the United States and 68 cases remain unresolved. Nearly half of the remaining cases are tied up in various cohorts of the Guatemalan judicial system. Our constituents indicate that many of the court hearings necessary to transfer a case to the Consejo Nacional de Adopciones (CNA) are not scheduled to take place until 2014, or have not been scheduled at all. Other cases are stalled because of administrative backlog. For instance, 8 children on the Universal List were declared adoptable in a hearing, yet the courts have not officially referred the cases to the CNA. Even more puzzling is that a few American families indicate that their adoption case has once again been transferred to rural courts, despite the Guatemalan Supreme Court’s May 2013 decision to divide all remaining cases amongst the same five judges in Guatemala City. We are also concerned about the Guatemalan Supreme Court’s recent decision to remove Judge Mena from her post, even though she was scheduled to review and issue decisions on many of the pending cases. These delays are very troubling and we urge the Government of Guatemala, and the Guatemalan judiciary in particular, to prioritize the completion of these cases in the best interests of the children.
These inter-country adoption cases have been stalled for an inordinate length of time. On July 25, 2013, the Senate Appropriations Committee reported the Department of State, Foreign Operations, and Related Programs Appropriations Bill for Fiscal Year 2014. This legislation conditions U.S. assistance for the Guatemalan armed forces on the swift resolution of all remaining inter-country adoption cases involving Guatemalan children and American prospective adoptive parents. If this bill becomes law, the funding cut is to take effect on January 15, 2014. Recent amendments to legislation sponsored by Majority Leader Harry Reid, Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Robert Menendez, and Senate Minority Whip John Cornyn also indicate that these outstanding cases have become a growing irritant in the bilateral relations between our two countries. It is important that this issue is resolved once and for all so we can move forward and address other matters of mutual interest.
Mr. Foreign Minister, the Guatemalan children and American adoptive parents involved in these transition cases have waited far too long and have suffered far too much. We know that you share our concern over the fate of these vulnerable children and look forward to your direct engagement in resolving this issue expeditiously.
Mary L. Landrieu Roy Blunt
U.S. Senator U.S. Senator