General — 09 January 2019 — by Courtney Menzies
Belizean mother fought to be with child taken to the US by father

ORANGE WALK TOWN, Fri. Jan. 4, 2019– Raquel Cocom, age unknown, is to be reunited with her 3-year-old daughter after the child was taken to the US by her biological father over a year ago. Cocom believed the child’s father was going on a 2-week trip with the child, but when he did not return, Cocom sought assistance from human rights activist Elisa Castellanos.

The biological father, a Russian man who had been living in Belize for 10 years, took the child on November 5, 2017, when she was only 1-year old. Cocom, with the aid of Castellanos, accessed the US courts through the Department of Human Services and has been engaged in a custody battle since then.

Cocom ultimately won her case, and in an interview with CTV3, she said she is eager to have her child back in her arms, and that the Department of Human Services in the US will fund her flight to the US so that she can pick up her daughter. There is still a chance, however, that the child’s father can make an appeal in US courts.

Castellanos also told CTV3 about the Hague Convention, which is an international treaty that provides an expeditious method to return a child that has abducted by a parent and taken to another country. They applied on the basis of the Hague Convention case with the Department of Human Services, which is the official body to deal with cases concerning the Hague Convention, on November 20.

The Department then submitted the case to the Human Services agency in the US in late January or early February last year. In March, as part of The Hague Convention protocol, Castellanos and Cocom were referred to a pro-bono attorney, Nelson Mullins, from North Carolina.

Cocom said that the process was very difficult and costly, and many times she wanted to “throw in the towel,” but she persevered and has been rewarded with the chance to be reunited with her daughter.

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