The families of the missing children are still waiting and still hoping for answers from the government of El Salvador. Although the civil war ended 25 years ago, the search for estimated 3000 missing children, the innocent victims who disappeared in the fighting continues.

The country’s military has so far refused to open its archives from that period to allow an investigation into the whereabouts of children separated from their families during combat between guerrillas and government forces.

In a decision released in January, El Salvador’s Supreme Court backed the demand of Nicolasa Rivas for a probe into the disappearances of her daughters, Gladys Suleyma and Norma Climaco Rivas, who were 6 and 7 years old when they went missing in San Vicente province in 1982. Rivas blames the military for taking her daughters.

The U.N. Truth Commission created with the signing of the peace agreement in January 1992 estimated there were 5,000 forced disappearances during the war. Families and human rights advocates have documented about 3,000 more cases and estimate that about 3,000 of all the disappeared were minors.

The Supreme Court’s decision ordered the armed forces to release information related to a military operation called “Mario Azenon Palma.” It was during that operation that Gladys and Norma disappeared, according to their mother.

The Defense Ministry has said that “after having searched the institutional archives it has been established that no documents or registries of any kind related to the alleged operation have been found.”

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Eduardo Garcia, executive director of Pro-Busqueda, a group dedicated to the war’s missing minors, said the operation’s existence has been confirmed by the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights.

“To think of reconciliation in the country it isn’t enough to say that the wounds are healed,” Garcia said. “The wounds are merely suppressed. There are living people who are being denied freedom.”

The truth commission found that during the 1980-1992 war, government forces tried to isolate guerrillas and their supporters, cutting off access to food and medicine. When soldiers moved against communities and guerrillas fled, women, the elderly and children often fell behind.

Fighters would return to look for their families, but often couldn’t find them. Relatives and activists say children were sometimes taken by soldiers.

There are numerous reports of children being cared for and others where they were used as servants. Some were turned over to the Red Cross or to other families and many were adopted.

Much of the same happened during the “dirty war” in Argentina.

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Photo courtesy AP