Rape, hunger and nameless kids at squalid children's home in Mexico

Fri Jul 18, 2014 6:34am EDT
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By Lizbeth Diaz

ZAMORA Mexico (Reuters) - Children in a squalid home for abandoned and troubled kids run by a controversial mother figure in western Mexico said hunger and regular beatings drove them to offer sex for food and get high by sniffing paint.

Mexican police raided the refuge known as "La Gran Familia" (The Big Family) in the state of Michoacan on Tuesday, finding more than 450 kids in squalid rooms filled with trash and cockroaches.

Many of the children, skinny and listless, described enduring years of abuse at the hands of home administrators including 79-year-old "Mama" Rosa Verduzco, who ran the home in the town of Zamora and has been detained on charges of deprivation of liberty and abuse.

"I wanted to kill myself out of desperation," said Carlos, an 18-year-old resident, showing knife cuts on his arm at the home on Thursday. "I want to get out of here now."

Dozens of families waited outside the home on Thursday, waiting to see their kids who were still being questioned by police.

The home was founded in 1947 and provided kids with schooling, workshops and youth orchestras. It received financial backing from individuals, the government and businesses, according to its Facebook page.

Verduzco had won praise from politicians and respected academics for spending more than four decades sheltering children in Michoacan, one of the poorest states in Mexico and ravaged by some of the worst violence in the country's drug war.

But the raid this week revealed filthy conditions at the home.   Continued...

Children play trumpets in a room inside a home known as "La Gran Familia" (The Big Family), in the western city of Zamora July 17, 2014. REUTERS/Henry Romero