Stolen Babies in Spain: Human Rights Abuses and Post-transitional Justice
Though often applauded as a successful democracy, Spain’s past has increasingly become a topic of discussion, calling into question its transition more than 30 years ago. Some of the nation’s unresolved trauma dates back to the 1930s when Franco’s dictatorship, as both political punishment and an attempt to purify the Spanish race, oversaw the systematic abduction of more than 40,000 infants and young children during the civil war and deep into the post-war era. As opposition to Franco’s regime faded, so did these abductions. Yet from the 1950s until as recently as the early 1990s, many hospital workers and Church officials organized the abduction, trafficking, and illegal adoption of as many as 300,000 more children. Only within the last decade have these stories emerged and gained momentum, beginning to stir local, national, and international attention. Organizations and government institutions now face unique challenges that impede the nation’s ability to implement post-transitional justice. This paper analyzes Spain’s democratic transition through the lens of transitional justice mechanisms as they pertain to these stolen children. This investigation constructs a more comprehensive overview of this little-known scandal and addresses future challenges and obligations for implementing post-transitional justice at the local, national, and international levels in Spain.