UW News

April 3, 2015

University of Washington undergraduates assist search for El Salvador’s disappeared children

UW News

The country of El Salvador was torn apart by a brutal civil war from 1980 to 1992 that took the lives of 75,000 civilians, many the victims of massacres that wiped out entire villages. Throughout that war, thousands of children were forcibly disappeared from their homes and communities by agents of the Salvadoran state as a tactic to instill terror in the population.

Faculty and 10 students of the University of Washington Center for Human Rights in its Jackson School of International Studies traveled to El Salvador during winter quarter for eight days of primary research and video documentation of these long-ago but never-forgotten events.

They conducted original research, revealing details of two civil war-era massacres in El Salvador. The work was done as part of the center’s Unfinished Sentences Project. Leading the project was Angelina Snodgrass Godoy, UW professor of international studies and director of the Center for Human Rights.

The team has released its report and two videos sharing the story of those affected by the forced disappearance of children. The videos are “Still Searching: The Disappeared Children of the Quesera Massacre, El Salvador” and “We Never Stopped Looking for You: The Disappeared Children of the Canoas Massacre, El Salvador.” Their report is titled “Promoting Human Rights and Healing in the Wake of Civil War in El Salvador.”

This work was done in collaboration with the Salvadoran human rights organization Asociación Pro-Búsqueda and released on March 29, in In recognition of the Day of the Disappeared Child in El Salvador.

The ongoing project seeks coverage from the press and assistance from the public. Roughly 2,500 children were adopted into the U.S. from El Salvador during the armed conflict, and many have grown up here without knowing they may have family still searching for them in El Salvador.

“The more people who see these videos, the greater the chances of success,” said Godoy. “Thank you for anything you can do to help spread the word.”

For more information or interviews on this subject, contact Godoy at 206-616-3585 or agodoy@uw.edu.