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Mexican Activists Reunited 30 Years Later

January 5, 2005

MEXICO CITY (AP) _ A brother and sister who were separated in 1975 during the Mexican government’s crackdown on leftist activists have been reunited after 30 years, authorities announced Tuesday.

Aleida Gallangos Vargas last week met her brother in the United States after an intensive search supported by investigators of Mexico’s so-called ``dirty war,″ in which the government led a ruthless crackdown against leftist activists.

Mexican authorities in 2003 joined the search for Aleida’s brother, who was adopted and renamed by a Mexican family at the age of 4, picking up on a paper trail of hospital, law-enforcement and adoption records.

Juan Carlos Hernandez, now 33 and living in Washington, disappeared along with his parents in the wake of a government raid on a Mexico City safe-house for the guerrilla group the 23rd of September League.

Aleida’s parents and uncle are still missing.

President Vicente Fox has appointed a special prosecutor to pursue dirty-war crimes, and Mexico’s Supreme Court cleared the way in 2003 for the arrest of former officials implicated in the kidnapping of activists who were never seen again.

The search for the missing boy originally named Lucio Antonio Gallangos appears to have uncovered new leads for prosecutors pursuing past crimes by government officials.

Two former agents of the now-dissolved Federal Security Directorate and two former Mexico City officials are being investigated as a result of new information in the case, the special prosecutor’s office announced Tuesday.

In Argentina, activists for decades have been tracking down children taken from their parents during the country’s dictatorship, when some 13,000 people were killed or disappeared.

But the Gallangos reunion in Washington appears to be the first of its kind in Mexico, where children are among more than 500 people listed as missing by the special prosecutor’s office.

After locating a possible address for Juan Carlos Hernandez in Washington, Mexican authorities left to Aleida the delicate task of approaching her brother, but provided $2,000 for her trip abroad and requested consular support.