12240354_10208125434832344_7250497668660111689_oOver the weekend news spread like wildfire when a frantic mother from Orange Walk Town reported to police that her two year old daughter “Nina” was removed from her custody by an unidentified Social Worker claiming to work with the Social Services Department.


Twenty-two year old Analiz Gutierrez claims that the woman, accompanied by a police officer, went to her home on Friday evening claiming that her daughter Nina was to be sent back to Guatemala to be in the care of her Guatemalan father. With nowhere else to turn to, the child’s mother and her family in Belize pleaded to the media and friends to share the word that Nina was allegedly abducted and a kidnapping report was made to the police.

On Social Media there are different versions of the story but at this time we’ll tell you what the mother is saying. According to Gutierrez, she was granted sole custody of her daughter by a Guatemalan court but that did not stop the Social Worker from taking Nina from her on Friday as she was threatened to be arrested if she resisted. And since the Government offices were not open for business over the weekend, this morning, flanked by her attained attorney Marcel Cardona, Gutierrez and her mother visited the Belize City family court where they tried to get answers. When she faced the media, Gutierrez mentioned that on the day Nina was taken she was not presented with any documents on the process.


ANALIZ GUTIERREZ – Mother of Child


“As a mother-in-law I was really concerned, I was scared more over the wellbeing of my daughter since I didn’t had any information, I was not facilitated any information concerning of her whereabouts.”


Reporter


“So when they got there did you immediately surrender your daughter, what did you do?”


ANALIZ GUTIERREZ – Mother of Child


“Uh no, since they got to my house my daughter and I were taking a nap we were awoken by them they had stated to my grandparents that they were only there to ask a few questions so my grandparents in good faith they let them in the house and the officer went forward to say that she was a social service officer from the human department and that she was there accompanied by a policeman in regards specifically to my daughter, she went ton mentioning that the father of my daughter had reopened a case that had been already previously closed, she had reopened the case in Guatemala and  had attained court order for the Belizean Embassy to locate and retrieve my daughter and have her taken back and have her presented in front of a Guatemalan judge with him and like I said at this point I was devastated, I was shocked because I had already gone through a legal procedure in Guatemala and had already gotten that case closed and under the documents that were provided under legal advice had been told that permission for me to travel to my home country was not something that was out of the question so and not only that but the father of my daughter was well aware that from the moment that I come to the country he was well aware that I was here with her and I had gone to the extend to try to have communication with him even though he had stated that he will not provide any financial support for her an I still did not denied his rights as the father to be in contact with her and to visit her over here and to talk to her through the phone and any types of media video chat or anything despite all my attempts all of them were ignored or unsuccessful from his behalf so I was very shocked and surprised that his had gotten to this state and t the point that him could be able to reopen the case and get a court order to get my daughter removed from me and state that I had adopted her under false allegations.”


Reporter


“How is your daughter now?”


ANALIZ GUTIERREZ – Mother of Child


“Right now, my daughter in under the custody of the human department…”


Reporter


“So you came to court today, tell us in terms of the outcome of today what did you come so seek to do here at the court today?”


ANALIZ GUTIERREZ – Mother of Child


“The purpose of the visit in the morning what we did was we went over to the human department because we had not being provided any documentation of all this process and that was all our main concern that we were not aware of what exactly was being ordered and under what ground all of this was going on and we want to know why nothing had been done under an official Belizean judge court here regarding this matter and now we were advice that we were be able to get a hold of that information and that everything would have been explained here at the family court and we were able to speak in front of a judge and accompanied with the other Attorneys for the human department and I was satisfied with the results because I am calmer now that my daughter is safe and not being sneaked out of the country and I am happy and I am willing to work and get to the bottom of everything and get things sorted out.”            

Gutierrez’s attorney, Marcel Cardona, told the media that for a period of two months while the application for court is heard in Belize, Nina will remain in the custody of the Human Services Department.


MARCEL CARDONA – Gutierrez’s Attorney


“If subsequent to that the ex-common-law husband boyfriend has received any other order of any other court indicating that he was being granted custody that would have been subsequent to that fact, the fact of crossing the border under…”


Reporter


“Was she invited to partake in such proceedings in Guatemala?”


MARCEL CARDONA – Gutierrez’s Attorney


“My instructions are that she was unaware of these proceeding and I act upon instructions and that is my understanding of it and given that they are currently now engaged in court proceedings and I believe that would have t to take further instructions from my client on a number of different aspects of this matter which I am not at liberty to disclose with you at this point in time but let it suffice to say that we will keep you informed from time to time on whatever else develops in this matter.”


Reporter


“Will your client be able to retain custody of her child?”


MARCEL CARDONA – Gutierrez’s Attorney


“It is in my view that based upon information provided by my client so far I am of the view that the invocation of the convention has been improperly done and it requires that at the moment that she crossed the border that she did so knowing that she did not have custody of the child and for him to be able to properly invocate it would to be proven that he at the moment that she crossed the border he had the custody of the child and not the other way around and our position is that obviously she had the custody of the child.”


Reporter


“We are talking about the two month period that the child remaining in custody at the Human Development Department and the Christmas season is coming has there been an application consideration to perhaps have the child returned the child to the mother perhaps with certain conditions of not leaving the country or something to that effect?”


MARCEL CARDONA – Gutierrez’s Attorney


“Recommendation were made by myself to the court to have because the child has been taken away to an unknown location, taken away and given to person that she is not acquainted with unfamiliar faces etcetera, I did submit to the court that I thought it was in the best interest of the child perhaps the department of human services to consider having the temporary fostering care delivered to perhaps to someone who is close to the family who could be responsible enough to abide by whatever court order and certainly this morning the department of human services indicated that they would be prepared to perhaps consider a recommendations of persons who the child might feel more comfortable with since they had previously contact with the child and who at the same time be responsible enough to have the safe return to court of that child whenever the court so orders.”


As they say, there are two sides to a story and now we bring you the version of the Human Services Department.  According to the CEO of the Human Development Department, Judith Alpuche, the child was taken into custody under the Hague Convention on International Child Abduction.


Judith Alpuche - CEO of the Human Development Department


“Under that piece of international law the department of human services is the essential authority being the focal point so we received a request, paper work with all the documentation attached from the central authority in Guatemala saying that a Guatemalan child had been wrongfully removed from the country and brought to Belize by her mother in this case her mother took the child out of the country without the father’s permission with a case as to the custody of the child being launched already in Guatemalan family court and hence the reason why then the HAY convention was evoked to really recover the child to seek into the child’s wellbeing and ensure that the child went back to her country of normal residence which is Guatemala.”


According to Alpuche, in Guatemala the matter is being treated as a child abduction and all the paperwork is completely in order. Furthermore Alpuche says that the mother was informed about the process.


Judith Alpuche - CEO of the Human Development Department


“All of the process was explained to the mother, the reports that I have from the social worker and from her supervisor and this was explained multiple times to multiple family members so it is very interesting to us then that the claim was made, the child was kidnapped, our social worker thought that she had full cooperation of the family something that we always seek and that the mother was willing to do what is called voluntary return in other words saying I am willing to go back to Guatemala and have this matter sorted out that is the best case scenario for us but in the middle of all of that things started escalating and the report that I have is that other family members got involved and the matter started to escalate and the social worker and the supervisor made the call to take the child in an emergency placement and to take the child then to care.”


As mentioned, the child will remain in the custody of the Human Services Department for the next two months.

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