An international child abduction is always sensitive. Even more so if the journey includes trips from Bogotá to Huelva, from Huelva to L’Hospitalet, and from L’Hospitalet to Tenerife. The Mossos d’Esquadra and the Canarian Police have returned a four-year-old girl to her father. The mother had taken the calf from Colombia to Spain in the summer of 2019 and had not returned. “We have already rescued your daughter,” recalls the parent – who requests anonymity so that the identity of the minor cannot be known in any way – that the Canarian Police told him in March.
The seed of the abduction was planted in 2017. The minor had been born two years ago and, with the parents already separated, her mother decided to travel on vacation to Spain with the baby, where she has a family. Then he came back without problem. In 2019, the woman posed the same thing to her ex-partner, who accepted without hesitation. As he also has relatives in Madrid, they arranged for the daughter to spend a week with him and another two with her. In mid-September 2019 they all traveled to Spain and he returned when his vacation week was over. “See you in Bogotá,” he said goodbye to the girl normally, without any suspicion.
At the beginning of October, when the minor and her mother were supposed to be back, her ex-wife expressed her desire to stay in Spain. The father later found out that as early as July the mother dropped the girl from school and quit her job. Faced with this situation, the father sent him an ultimatum: he would give him until October 20 to return or he would denounce her, the man recalls, sitting in the food court of a shopping center in western Bogotá. After the deadline, he went to a lawyer and they filed the complaint directly in Huelva, where he discovered that his daughter and mother were following through social networks.
The procedures lengthened the process until July 2020, in the midst of the pandemic. The Huelva court determined that the “restoration” of the minor be made to the father. The parent criticizes that then his communication with the girl was increasingly restricted, with video calls from time to time. It’s already November 2020.
At first, a voluntary surrender of the minor is attempted. On November 11, when there were only humanitarian flights due to the pandemic restrictions, the Spanish authorities summoned his father at the Barajas airport to carry it out. But the mother of the minor no longer responded to calls by the police Facebook Messenger, according to the father, who denounces that since then she has cut off all communication. The woman had five days to deliver the baby, but she never showed up.
It was then that the case the Huelva court passed the case to the Mossos d’Esquadra. The father’s own inquiries indicated that the mother had traveled from the Andalusian city to Catalonia. “We make the first checks, we see that she is in school in L’Hospitalet, but since we asked, the girl is no longer attending class,” explains a sergeant from the Mossos minors unit. The mother, according to the Catalan police, has learned that the father has discovered his new place of residence. “When we arrived to look for the minor, just after receiving the official letter from the court, we were already late,” laments the mosso.
The next mission is to find out where mother and daughter are now. “The court order gives us a margin of three months to act, and enter the homes,” he explains. Always, at all times, the woman’s family allows them to enter their houses: “They were very clear that we would not find the girl.” It was not until later checks, which the Mossos prefer not to detail, that they locate the woman and her daughter again: they are in Tenerife.
“We pass all the information to the Canary Islands Police, who are competent in these cases. Two or three days later, they call us and tell us that they have located her, ”recalls the sergeant. At that time, the minor’s father had to return to Colombia again. “My resources were running out and I had been staying for three months, so I decided to return very disappointed and sad,” he says. Until in March, he received a call from the Canarian Police informing him that they had found the minor. It was in a “very well cared for” center. It took him a week to get around the obstacles to travel again and arrive in Tenerife on a Friday morning. The girl threw herself into his arms and hugged him, recalls her father. “That was my second miracle,” she says in reference to a cerebrovascular accident from which she recovered, just after having her daughter, in 2015. With great discretion, and with custody papers in hand, they returned a week later to Bogota
The Mossos emphasize that the mother, during the time she was with the minor, worried about her. “She always school, she is not at risk, she is well cared for. The legal good [de la custodia] he is injured, but the girl is protected, ”says the sergeant. “I don’t want him to suffer trauma from all this. She is very well, very happy, we have not had any indication of anything, “says her father. Every other day, the baby talks by video call with its mother. “I, for my daughter, until the end of the world,” says her father.
The Prosecutor’s Office intervened in 41 cases in 2019
The Prosecutor’s Office intervened in 41 cases of international child abduction in 2019 in Spain, according to its latest annual report. The figure is slightly higher than the previous year, with 33. Only in Catalonia, the Mossos have investigated 28 cases since 2014. The figure includes three different cases: international, national and parents with custody withdrawn by the authorities who have been brought their children. “There is no pattern,” says the Mossos sergeant, about the profile of the parents who usually take their children. The priority is always to ensure the well-being of the minor. When the police verify that there may be a risk to children, they intensify their task. “As time goes by, it gets more and more serious, and the intervention is more insistent.” Most of the abductions are of children because adolescents have more autonomy and can ask for help if the case becomes complicated. Remember the one about three minors who were locked up without being able to leave. Or that of a girl whose father took to a house in Toledo and kept her there, without schooling and even with the blinds down.