A Mexican girl who was pulled out of her school and forcibly sent to the US to live with a Texas woman who claimed to be her mother, has finally been reunited with her family back home in Guanajuato state.
Last week Alondra Luna Nunez was misidentified as a missing girl from Houston, Texas, and was dragged screaming from a Mexican courtroom by federal agents.
The near one-week ordeal for the 14-year-old ended after a DNA test proved that it was a case of mistaken identity and that the woman from Houston Dorotea Garcia was not her real mother.
Alondra's parents placed blame on the Mexican judge who refused to accept the pile of documents they presented as proof of Alondra's identity, from baptismal records and a copy of her birth certificate to family photographs.
"The other girl had a scar, but on the eyebrow, and I have one on my nose. I mean all this was stirred up over that," Alondra told the Associated Press news agency at an emotional reunion with her family Wednesday.
How Alondra came to be identified as the long-missing daughter of Garcia, a Houston resident, and then sent to live with her in the US is unclear.
Judge Cinthia Elodia Mercado told AP she was obligated to ensure that Mexico followed international conventions on child abductions.
"Our only job is to resolve whether the child needs to be returned or not," she said.
Foreign ministry's account
Alondra apparently was identified as the missing girl by Garcia in Guanajuato. Speaking briefly to AP, the Houston woman did not elaborate on how she did so.
Garcia told a Houston television station that the first time she saw Alondra Luna, "I saw my daughter".
The Mexican Foreign Ministry said Garcia's identification of Alondra prompted US authorities to file a petition for her return and the case then was forwarded to the judge.
|Susana Nunez, Alondra's mother, said she had not had a chance to ask her daughter for more details [AP Photo/Mario Armas]
Based on Elodia Mercado's order, Mexican federal police went to Alondra's middle school in Guanajuato on April 16 and transported her to the magistrate's courtroom in the neighbouring state of Michoacan.
After examining documents presented by Alondra's parents and Garcia, and hearing their testimony, the judge ruled in Garcia's favour.
Alondra said she was terrified at first, having never been so far from her parents, but was confident that ultimately the truth would come out and she would return.
The video of her being forced into a police vehicle after the court ruling was circulated widely, causing an uproar and public demands for an investigation. Upon reaching the US, Alondra again asked for a DNA test, which was conducted at the Mexican consulate in Houston.
Alondra's family celebrated her return to Guanajuato on Wednesday with a barbecue of steak and chorizo sausage at her aunt's house, decorated with balloons, streamers.
"Welcome to your real home, Alondra," read a homemade sign.
Her uncle, Ruben Nunez, said the family was considering whether to pursue legal action.
Anger and sadness
Susana Nunez, Alondra's mother, said she had not had a chance to ask her daughter for more details of the trip to Houston, such as whether she tried to convince border agents that Garcia was not her mother.
"Anger. Rage. Powerlessness that they could tear my daughter from my arms. Sadness," Nunez said, recalling her emotions of the last week. "I didn't sleep. I didn't eat. I said, 'How is my daughter? What is she doing?'"
Her father, Gustavo Luna, said there were moments when he feared he might never see her again.
"A lot of things went through my mind ... at those moments you fear the worst," Luna said.
As for Garcia, her daughter, Alondra Diaz Garcia, remains missing.
The girl allegedly was taken from Houston by her father, Reynaldo Diaz, in 2007 and was believed to have been in Mexico.
Alondra said Garcia and the woman's relatives apologised to her before she left Texas.