Features — 16 February 2016 — by Johnelle McKenzie
Uncertain future for Baby Nina

BELIZE CITY, Mon., Feb. 15, 2016–On Friday, February 12, the Belize Family Court handed down its decision to have Baby Nina returned to Guatemala. The much discussed case of Baby Nina was heard in Magistrate Dale Cayetano’s courtroom, and both parents were present for the hearing. Analiz Perez Gutierrez, the Belizean mother, was represented by attorney Marcel Cardona, and Ernesto Barrera, the Guatemalan father, was represented by attorney Kevin Arthurs.

The court proceedings lasted the entire day. Gutierrez emerged from the courtroom at 6:30 p.m. and told us about the magistrate’s ruling. Gutierrez read the following judgment: “Take note that the above case for declaration of wrongful removal/return of the child was concluded on the twelfth day of February 2016, where the following order was made. The child, Nina Charlotte Alexandra Barrera Perez, born twenty-third October, 2013, was wrongfully removed from Guatemala. It is hereby ordered that the child, be returned to Guatemala immediately, pursuant to Chapter 177 of the International Child Adoption Act Revised Edition 200 and the subsequent articles of the convention.”

Amandala readers will recall that in November 2015 we told you of the traumatic incident that occurred when Baby Nina was snatched from the arms of her mother. The incident took place on Friday, November 13, when the Human Services Department, based on a custody order issued in Guatemala, went to Orange Walk Town to remove the child from her mother’s home and put her in foster care.

The child was born in Guatemala, the father is a Guatemalan citizen, and when the mother, Gutierrez, returned home to Belize with the child, the father of the child was able to apply for full custody of the child in a Guatemalan court – which was granted.

However, Nina will not be going back to her father’s home in Guatemala. Gutierrez explained that Nina would be given over to the Guatemalan Embassy, then taken to Guatemala and handed over to their Human Services Department, who will put her in a foster home.

Gutierrez said that she is now dialoguing with Nina’s father so that they can work things out for Nina’s best interests.

Gutierrez told the media that she needs to stay strong for her daughter, and “if her daughter has to go to Guatemala, she will follow her to Guatemala.”

In matters involving custody cases, it would seem that the outcome is usually in favor of the mother, but this one proved otherwise, with the father winning the fight to have their child return to Guatemala. In Guatemala, the case will go before the Family Court there, who will determine the outcome of the matter.

For any child, bonding and attachment are crucial to its development mentally, physically, intellectually, emotionally, and socially. Baby Nina has been denied the opportunity of bonding and attaching to her mother. According to HelpGuide.org, “insecure attachment can inhibit emotional, mental, and even physical development, leading to difficulties in learning and forming relationships in later life.”

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