At the crack of dawn on Thursday, Nov. 14, three armed men broke into the offices of Pro-Búsqueda, a non-profit in San Salvador that reunites families with children who went missing during El Salvador’s 1979-1992 civil war.
They beat up the guards, poured gasoline on the organization’s archive, and used torches to set hundreds of documents aflame. On their way out, they took computers with them.
The attack on Pro-Búsqueda was not a random crime. Pro-Búsqueda (“Search”) was founded in 1994 to investigate the nearly 1,200 cases of children separated or taken from their parents during the war. Since then, it has used DNA testing and detective work to identify 175 “disappeared” youths. Many had been adopted by families in the United States or Europe, and they’ve now been united with their families in El Salvador. But more than 800 complaints of missing children remain unresolved. Evidence for these cases was among the documentation destroyed by the gunmen.