A horrible "natural experiment"

By Razib Khan | July 25, 2012 2:13 am

Spanish Baby-Snatching Victims Seek Answers and Justice:

Most of these stolen children were entrusted to the care of Catholics loyal to the regime. The aim behind this was to rid an entire people of the “Marxist gene,” at least according to the theories of Antonio Vallejo-Nájera, the national psychiatrist of Francoist Spain, that were widespread at the time.

More accurately it should be Marxist meme. But it brings up the question of looking into the correlation between the traits of biological parents and their long-lost children.

Via Dispatches From Turtle Island.

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Behavior Genetics
MORE ABOUT: Behavior Genetics
  • David

    This is just so mind-bogglingly shocking! How is it that Spain is not hoarse with outrage? How is it that some of the doctors involved are still practicing?

  • Elfino

    I was born in one of the affected maternity hospitals (don’t worry, my fathers are my fathers, I am 100% sure ;) ), and it’s the first time I read that theory.

    What I read in the newspaper was that a nun decided which children to steal, depending the mother (unmarried and other “non catholic examples”).

    But I have to say something at a sociological level. Part of the spanish left-wing is absolutely obsessed with Franco’s regime and the Spanish civil war (that happened 70 years ago), so I can’t rule out an exaggeration with this theory. It may have happened in the 40′s or 50′s, but not in the 70′s (the regime was opening and preparing for the democracy). Anyway is plausible, so I will wait for more evidence. But at this moment I prefer to wait and see.

  • toto

    The family had obtained a court order to have the body of their supposedly dead daughter and sister exhumed. But when the small coffin was opened, all they found inside were gauze bandages and pieces of wood. Laboratory tests in Madrid confirmed what the eye could see: There were no DNA remains, and the coffin had never held a body.

    Pretty hard to fake or hallucinate that. Sounds like there really was something nefarious going on at least into the late 70s.

  • Elfino

    Forgive my english: “My parents are my parents”… I meant. I hope I can help here.

    It has been a scandal here in Spain.

  • Torbjörn Larsson, OM

    Thanks for the update! This surfaced about a year ago as I remember it, but there were scarce evidence at the time. Now it seems, by the continued poking, there is a hope for definitive knowledge. If there are more proved cases, or if they can find that ad of the Pilar case, or if the Franco regime constituted a specific law, there was a systematic mafia action on human trafficking of babies.

    Then one may wonder how far up the ladder it goes. The religious participant is a world wide church, and they are well known for their systematic aiding and abetting of criminals preying on children. The hypothesis that is started with the Franco regime or that it is confined to Spain is just an untested hypothesis at this time. (As is all of this except the individual cases.)

    I note that the spanish unrest started well before, so the opportunity likely presented itself much earlier. And the continuation, which the Pilar et cetera cases would attest to, would mean at least that was independent of the state of the secular state.

    On the gene/meme thingy: I reacted to that too. The reification of ideas seems to happen regardless of Dawkins’ theories.

  • Dm

    A number of Argentine senior officials from their military juntas of the 1970s have just recently been convicted of exactly the same plot, to take away thousands of babies of leftist parents and to hand them to Catholic parents (sometimes to rich childless parents in an influence-peddling scheme). But the news reports called the schema “totally unique”, unmatched anywhere else in the modern era.

    I guess the Argentine baby theft wasn’t without a match after all :(

    Of course there are specific, chilling to the bone details of the Argentine story. The mothers were incarcerated in torture centers until they gave birth, then made “disappeared”, usually by being flown out to the sea in military helicopters and thrown overboard. The babies were often taken by the very same people who executed their parents. The DNA testing (organized by USC’s famed geneticist, Mary Claire King) had to find matches with grandparents. The Grandmothers of Plaza de Mayo emerged as a very potent truth-seeking organization, working to withdraw the blanket amnesty given to the military rulers (who remain immune to charges of torture and murder of the adults, but not to the charges of baby theft).

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This blog is about evolution, genetics, genomics and their interstices. Please beware that comments are aggressively moderated. Uncivil or churlish comments will likely get you banned immediately, so make any contribution count!

About Razib Khan

I have degrees in biology and biochemistry, a passion for genetics, history, and philosophy, and shrimp is my favorite food. In relation to nationality I'm a American Northwesterner, in politics I'm a reactionary, and as for religion I have none (I'm an atheist). If you want to know more, see the links at http://www.razib.com

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