A Search For A Boy Abducted From A Village Becomes A Search For Justice For The Innocents Who Were Slaughtered There

April 11, 2017 — For more than 30 years, people have been searching for the truth about the massacre at Dos Erres.

Guatemala’s civil war was particularly brutal. When a guerrilla raid on government forces made off with approximately 20 rifles, the government retaliated by sending in their elite Kaibiles force — a force that used a “scorched earth” policy of destroying everything in their path — to exact retribution.

Acting on rumors, the Kaibiles entered the town of Dos Erres and spent several days raping, torturing and killing anyone they could find. People and bodies were thrown down a well. No one got out alive — or so it was believed.

Years after the massacre, investigators heard a rumor of two small boys who were stolen out of the village. One, named Oscar, was adopted by one of the Kaibiles soldiers who had slaughtered the people of the town. No longer called by his original name, the boy was extremely difficult to locate and the abductor was dead.

It took decades for Oscar to be found, and when he was, he was ambivalent about the information he was given. He agreed to take a DNA test to see if the stories he was now hearing were true. 

When the test came back, it did more than corroborate his connection to Dos Erres. He would discover that the man who had help raise him had slaughtered the people of his village, including many of his family members. And Oscar would learn that his real father was alive. 

Tranquilino Castañeda had been away from the village on the day of the massacre. He had never recovered from the deaths of his family, a wife and nine children. Suddenly the 70 year old man was informed that one of his children still lived. A video conversation was set up between the two men who were so closely related and such complete strangers. For the first time, Oscar heard the name his birth family had called him: Alfredito.

Executive produced by Steven Spielberg, Finding Oscar is a story about a tragedy; it is a real life missing persons investigation. It also documents a fascinating attempt to hold the people responsible for an atrocity to account.

Finding Oscar opens theatrically on Friday. Check here for theaters and times.

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