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Yucateca says she was baby stolen in Franco’s Spain

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Ligia Ceballos Franco. Photo: Amnesty International

Mexico City — A well-heeled family from Mérida arranged to steal a baby born in Spain almost 50 years ago, according to a complaint filed by Amnesty International.

The baby grew up to be Ligia Ceballos Franco, who said Thursday she may be among an estimated 30,000 infants taken from their birth parents under the Francisco Franco dictatorship from 1938 to 1975.

Ceballos, born in 1968, also claims the Archdiocese of Mérida facilitated the adoption. The archdiocese didn’t respond to the Associated Press for comment.

A press conference Thursday has generated headlines around the world. 

After being told she was adopted, Ceballos said she found a local government document in Madrid saying a baby had been handed over to her Mexican parents in 1968.

She found a birth record for Diana Ortiz Ramirez, which may be her, she said at a press conference. Her biological parents were apparently told she had died at birth. The targets of such deception were often opponents of the Franco regime.

Doctors, health care workers, attorneys, officials and religious workers all participated in plots in which the death certificates of the children were falsified along with their birth certificates to be able to place them with other families, according to Amnesty International.

Ceballos wants Mexican prosecutors to conduct an investigation based on a provision in the law against forced disappearances that covers hiding or denying someone’s identity.

“This could mark a precedent in the judicial concept of the search for the truth,” said Amnesty International’s Mexico director, Tania Reneaum.

Any statute of limitations does not apply until the disappearance – or identity theft – are cleared up, her lawyers argue.

Ceballos said she did not wish to indict her adoptive parents, who are now deceased.

“My adoptive parents were good people, they raised me, they loved me and gave me everything they could. This is not against them but in favor of the justice of other stories like mine,” said Ceballos. “This is for the people who Franco took their life.”

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