This story was co-reported with Sebastian Rotella of ProPublica, Ana Arana of Fundación MEPI, independent journalist Habiba Nosheen and This American Life producer Brian Reed. Their essay “Finding Oscar,” which is accompanied by a timeline, slideshow and character guide, can be read at propublica.org and is also available as an eBook (Spanish versions: on iTunes, Amazon, and Google Play). The essay is also included in The Best American Nonrequired Reading 2013, compiled by Dave Eggers.
Annie Correal helped with research and translations.
Ira tells the story of how Oscar Ramirez, a Guatemalan immigrant living near Boston, got a phone call with some very strange news about his past. A public prosecutor from Guatemala told Oscar that when he was three years old, he may have been abducted from a massacre at a village called Dos Erres. Ira also talks to Kate Doyle, a senior analyst at the National Security Archive, about the Guatemalan military's scorched earth campaign, which was going on when the massacre at Dos Erres happened. (4 minutes)
Habiba's story continues. Nearly 16 years after investigators first started looking into the Dos Erres massacre, a prosecutor tracks down Oscar and asks him to take a DNA test to see if he is a survivor. But they find out much more. (25 minutes)
Photos from Matthew Healey for ProPublica and Alex Cruz/El Periodico de Guatemala: