Sylvia Poggioli

Sylvia Poggioli is senior European correspondent for NPR's foreign desk and reports from Rome, Italy; the Balkans; other parts of Europe; and the Middle East. Poggioli can be heard on NPR's award-winning newsmagazines Morning Edition, All Things Considered, and Weekend Edition.

Since joining NPR's foreign desk in 1982, Poggioli's on-air analysis has encompassed the fall of communism in Eastern Europe, the turbulent civil war in the former Yugoslavia, and noteworthy coverage from Prague. In early 1991, she supplemented NPR's Gulf War coverage, reporting from London on European reactions to events surrounding the war.

In 2004, Poggioli was the inaugural recipient of the WBUR Foreign Correspondent Award, presented to an outstanding public radio foreign correspondent. In 2002, Poggioli received the Welles Hangen Award for Distinquished Journalism from Brown University. In 2000, Poggioli received an honorary Doctor of Humane Letters degree from Brandeis University. In 1994, Poggioli was elected a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences "for her distinctive, cultivated and authoritative reports on 'ethnic cleansing' in Bosnia." In 1990, Poggioli spent an academic year at Harvard University as a research fellow at Harvard University's Center for Press, Politics, and Public Policy at the Kennedy School of Government.

From 1971 to 1986, Poggioli served as an editor on the English-language desk for the Ansa News Agency in Italy. Prior to her duties as editor, she worked at the Festival of Two Worlds in Spoleto, Italy. She was actively involved with women's film and theater groups.

Poggioli's reports on the Bosnian conflict earned two awards in 1993: the George Foster Peabody Award and the Edward Weintal Journalism Prize. She also won two awards in 1994, the National Women's Political Caucus/Radcliffe College Exceptional Merit Media Award and the Silver Angel Excellence in the Media Award. Poggioli was part of the NPR team that won the 2000 Overseas Press Club award for coverage of NATO's 1999 air war against Yugoslavia.

The daughter of Italian anti-fascists who were forced to flee Italy under Mussolini, Poggioli was born in Providence, Rhode Island, and grew up in Cambridge, Massachusetts. She graduated from Harvard College in 1968 with a bachelor's degree in romance languages and literature. She later studied in Italy under a Fulbright Scholarship.

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12:49pm

Mon August 5, 2013
Parallels

World War II Researchers Say 'Italian Schindler' Was A Myth

Originally published on Mon August 5, 2013 6:24 pm

The Risiera di San Sabba in Trieste was used during World War II as the only death camp on Italian soil. In the building's courtyard, the outline on the brick wall is where the crematorium was located.
Sylvia Poggioli NPR

A group of Italian researchers who have studied troves of World War II documents have found no evidence that Giovanni Palatucci, a police official long credited as the "Italian Schindler," saved the lives of 5,000 Jews.

The findings are demolishing the Italian national icon and angering supporters of the man who has been honored at Israel's Yad Vashem Holocaust memorial, and who has been put on the track to sainthood.

'Unfounded' Claims Of Heroism?

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8:14am

Fri August 2, 2013
Europe

Berlusconi Vows To Fight Back After Tax Conviction

Originally published on Fri August 2, 2013 11:08 am

The front pages of the main Italian newspapers in Rome on Friday after Italy's top court upheld a jail sentence against former Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi for tax fraud.
Gabriel Bouys AFP/Getty Images

After some 20 trials over two decades, Italian media tycoon Silvio Berlusconi received his first definitive conviction Thursday for evading almost $10 million in taxes while he was prime minister.

After more than seven hours of deliberations, Judge Antonio Esposito read the ruling of the five Supreme Court judges: "In the name of the Italian people," the judge declared, "Berlusconi's conviction and prison term are irrevocable."

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2:37pm

Mon July 15, 2013
Parallels

In Venice, Huge Cruise Ships Bring Tourists And Complaints

Originally published on Mon July 15, 2013 6:13 pm

A massive cruise ships towers over Venice. Some 650 cruise ships now visit the Italian city annually, and critics say they threaten the city's fragile architecture.
Courtesty of the No Big Ships Committee

The fragile architectural treasures of Venice are endangered by rising sea levels, and a growing number of critics now say the city and its canals are at risk from massive cruise ships as big as floating skyscrapers.

On an average day, tens of thousands of passengers lean over the railings of cruise ships that can be 300 yards long and 15 stories high. The tourists peer down at the majestic Doge's Palace as they sail into St. Mark's basin and down the Giudecca canal.

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3:18am

Wed June 19, 2013
Parallels

Parvum Opus: Followers Flock To Pope's Latin Twitter Feed

Originally published on Wed June 19, 2013 9:40 am

Monsignor Daniel Gallagher, a Latin expert at the Vatican, says people from all walks of life are following the pope's Twitter feed in Latin.
Sylvia Poggioli/NPR

Against all Vatican expectations, the pope's Twitter account in Latin has gained more than 100,000 followers in six months and continues to grow.

Followers are not exclusively Roman Catholics or Latin scholars, but represent a wide variety of professions and religions from all over the world. Some go so far as to claim that the language of the ancient Romans is perfectly suited to 21st-century social media.

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1:27pm

Mon June 17, 2013
The Salt

Italian University Spreads The 'Gelato Gospel'

Originally published on Tue June 18, 2013 4:12 pm

Thousands of students from around the world flock to courses near Bologna, in central Italy, at the headquarters of Carpigiani, the leading global manufacturer of gelato-making machines.
Giuseppe Cacace AFP/Getty Images

Italy has secured its place in the global diet with the likes of espresso, cappuccino, pasta and pizza.

The latest addition to the culinary lexicon is ... gelato, the Italian version of ice cream.

And despite tough economic times, gelato-making is a booming business.

At Anzola dell'Emilia, a short drive from the Italian city of Bologna, people from all over the world are lining up for courses in gelato-making.

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5:28pm

Thu June 13, 2013
Religion

Pope's Reference To 'Gay Lobby' Broaches Taboo Topic

Originally published on Thu June 13, 2013 6:35 pm

Pope Francis leads rosary concluding Marian month of May on May 31, at St. Peter's square at the Vatican.
Tiziana Fabi AFP/Getty Images

The Roman Catholic Church teaches that homosexual acts are a grave sin. But the existence of active gay prelates in the Vatican bureaucracy known as the Roman Curia has been considered a poorly held secret for centuries.

Robert Mickens, Vatican correspondent for the British Catholic weekly The Tablet, says the normal definition of a lobby as an organized group of people pushing a specific agenda does not apply here.

He prefers to call it a gay subculture.

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4:29pm

Mon May 27, 2013
Parallels

At 500, Machiavelli's 'Prince' Still Inspires Love And Fear

Originally published on Tue May 28, 2013 5:52 pm

A portrait of Italian philosopher, writer and politician Niccolo Machiavelli (Florence, 1469-1527) by Antonio Maria Crespi. Half a millennium after he wrote The Prince, the slim volume continues to play an important role in political thought and evoke strong response.
Veneranda Biblioteca Ambrosiana De Agostini/Getty Images

The name Niccolo Machiavelli is synonymous with political deceit, cynicism and the ruthless use of power. The Italian Renaissance writer called his most famous work, The Prince, a handbook for statesmen.

An exhibit underway in Rome celebrates the 500th anniversary of what is still considered one of the most influential political essays in Western literature.

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6:30am

Tue May 21, 2013
Europe

Young People Cast Out Of Italy's Welfare System

Originally published on Tue May 21, 2013 11:13 am

Transcript

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

We are also following a subtler story of economic devastation, even with all the news about unemployment in Europe, this next number is hard to absorb. In Italy, among younger people, the jobless rate us close to 40 percent. The government is focused on the middle-aged and the elderly leaving little room it seems for their kids

Here's NPR's Sylvia Poggioli.

(SOUNDBITE OF SCREAMING AND SHOOTING)

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2:24pm

Mon May 20, 2013
Parallels

Pope Francis Puts The Poor Front And Center

Originally published on Mon May 20, 2013 9:06 pm

Pope Francis blesses a child Sunday after the Holy Mass at St. Peter's Square, at the Vatican.
Andreas Solaro AFP/Getty Images

Over the past week, Pope Francis has launched a crescendo of attacks on the global financial system and what he calls a "cult of money" that does not help the poor.

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4:49pm

Thu May 16, 2013
The Salt

No More Smuggling: Many Cured Italian Meats Coming To America

Originally published on Fri May 17, 2013 11:36 am

Even Sophia Loren felt compelled to smuggle mortadella, despite a U.S. ban โ€” well, her character did, anyway, in the 1971 film Lady Liberty.
Warner Bros/The Kobal Collection

American gourmets and lovers of Italian food products, your days as food smugglers are over.

No more stuffing your suitcases with delicacies bought in Italy, hoping the sniffer dogs at JFK or other American airports won't detect the banned-in-the-USA foodstuffs inside your luggage.

In the U.S., they're called cured meats, the French say charcuterie and in Italy, the word for cured-pork products is salumi.

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5:27am

Sun May 5, 2013
The Two-Way

Long Hidden, Vatican Painting Linked To Native Americans

Centuries of grime was removed during the recent restoration, revealing the men with the headdresses.
Courtesy of Vatican Museums

For close to 400 years, the painting was closed off to the world. For the past 124 years, millions of visitors walked by without noticing an intriguing scene covered with centuries of grime.

Only now, the Vatican says a detail in a newly cleaned 15th century fresco shows what may be one of the first European depictions of Native Americans.

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12:04pm

Thu April 25, 2013
The Salt

EU Embraces 'Suspended Coffee': Pay It Forward With A Cup Of Joe

Originally published on Thu January 9, 2014 3:48 pm

A barista serves coffee at a cafe in Naples, Italy. The Italian city's long-standing tradition of buying a cup for a less-fortunate stranger is now spreading across Europe.
Christopher Furlong Getty Images

Tough economic times and growing poverty in much of Europe are reviving a humble tradition that began some one-hundred years ago in the Italian city of Naples. It's called caffรจ sospeso โ€” "suspended coffee": A customer pays in advance for a person who cannot afford a cup of coffee.

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5:04pm

Mon April 1, 2013
Religion

With New Pope, Catholic Women Hope To Regain Church Leadership Roles

Originally published on Mon April 1, 2013 8:45 pm

Parishioners partake in the Way Of The Cross procession at the Colosseum on Good Friday in Rome. A group of women Catholics recently made a pilgrimage to Rome to request that women once again be allowed to hold leadership positions in the church.
Christopher Furlong Getty Images

The newly elected pope's focus on the poor and the marginalized has instilled great faith among many Catholic women. They hope the papacy of Pope Francis will promote a leading role for women in the church.

A group of American nuns and Catholic women recently made a pilgrimage to Rome to make their requests heard.

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7:33am

Sun March 31, 2013
Europe

Pope Francis Delivers First Easter Sunday Mass

Originally published on Sun March 31, 2013 6:19 pm

After celebrating Mass along with more than 250,000 faithful, Pope Francis delivered a plea for peace in his first Easter Sunday message to the world, decrying the seemingly endless conflicts in the Middle East and on the Korean Peninsula.
AFP/Getty Images

Pope Francis celebrated his first Easter Sunday Mass praying for world peace and urging a diplomatic solution to the standoff on the Korean peninsula.

Only two weeks after his election, the first pope from the developing world continues to make his mark on the Catholic Church.

St. Peter's Square was bedecked with flowers and packed with joyous pilgrims and tourists as Pope Francis celebrated Easter Mass.

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9:57am

Tue March 26, 2013
Europe

Amanda Knox May Face Retrial After Italian Court Ruling

Transcript

DAVID GREENE, HOST:

Let's turn to news this morning in Italy. In a surprise ruling, Italy's highest court has ordered a retrial of American Amanda Knox. She's the former exchange student who, along with her former boyfriend, was charged in the murder of her British roommate. Today's ruling overturned the 2011 acquittal of the two defendants after they spent four years in jail.

We're joined by NPR's Sylvia Poggioli on the line from Rome. Good morning, Sylvia.

SYLVIA POGGIOLI, BYLINE: Good morning.

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6:48am

Sun March 10, 2013
Religion

Sistine Chapel Conclave Prep Includes Ensuring Social Media Blackout

Originally published on Sun March 10, 2013 7:35 pm

Wi-Fi will be blocked throughout Vatican City during the conclave, and cardinals with Twitter and Facebook accounts have been warned.
Joe Raedle Getty Images

Last-minute preparations are under way at the Vatican where the conclave to elect the new pope begins Tuesday.

The 115 cardinal electors will remain at the Sistine Chapel incommunicado from the rest of the world as they vote. In the era of social media, however, Vatican officials are taking every precaution to prevent cardinals from yielding to the temptation to tweet and text.

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7:56am

Mon March 4, 2013
Religion

Cardinals At Odds Over When To Begin Choosing Next Pope

Originally published on Mon March 4, 2013 1:02 pm

The College of Cardinals is holding its first official meetings at the Vatican on Monday. The top agenda item is choosing which day to start the closed-door conclave that will elect the new pope. With no clear front-runner, the conclave outcome is unpredictable.

The papal resignation has put the cardinals in an unprecedented situation in modern history.

"The real mood is of shock and disappointment โ€” this resignation desacralized the figure of the pope," says Massimo Franco, author of several books about the Vatican. He says a pope cannot be treated like a company CEO.

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3:28am

Fri February 22, 2013
Europe

'The Real Jiminy Cricket': Unlikely Candidate Upends Italian Elections

Originally published on Fri February 22, 2013 8:24 am

Comedian-turned-politician Beppe Grillo addresses supporters at a rally on Feb. 12 in Bergamo, Italy. Many pollsters say his populist Five Star Movement could come in third in this weekend's election.
Giuseppe Cacace AFP/Getty Images

Italy's election campaign has been dominated by an upstart comedian-turned-politician whose Five Star Movement is soaring in the polls. The movement is not expected to win in the weekend vote, but its strong presence in Parliament could be destabilizing and reignite the eurozone crisis.

Beppe Grillo is a standup comedian and the country's most popular blogger; 63 years old, with a mane of grey curly hair, he's hyperactive and foul-mouthed. His last name means "cricket," and he's the most charismatic politician in Italy today.

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2:58pm

Mon February 18, 2013
Europe

Greece's Economic Crisis Reveals Fault Lines In The Media

Originally published on Mon February 18, 2013 7:05 pm

People read newspaper headlines in Athens. In 2009, there were 39 national dailies, 23 national Sunday papers, 14 national weekly papers and dozens of TV and radio stations for a population of 11 million.
Louisa Gouliamaki AFP/Getty Images

Three years of spiraling economic crisis in Greece have devastated every sector of the economy. The Greek media are among the hardest hit. Many newspapers and TV outlets have closed or are on the verge, and some 4,000 journalists have lost their jobs.

Many people believe the country's news media have failed to cover the crisis โ€” and lost credibility along the way. And many Greek journalists acknowledge that a massive conflict of interest sooner or later had to explode.

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11:41am

Mon February 11, 2013
Remembrances

Pope Benedict XVI: A Champion Of Catholic Tradition

Originally published on Mon February 11, 2013 1:52 pm

Pope Benedict XVI, who announced his resignation Monday, was an ardent defender of Catholic tradition. For a quarter-century before he become the pontiff in 2005, he served as the chief enforcer of Catholic orthodoxy.
Vicenzo Pinto AFP/Getty Images

On April 19, 2005, when wisps of white smoke puffed from the chimney above the Sistine Chapel, the Roman Catholic Church had its first German pope since the 11th century.

Just one day before his election as Pope Benedict XVI, Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger delivered a homily that, many analysts later said, became the platform of his papacy.

He denounced modern trends he said were undermining Catholicism and Western civilization.

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10:16am

Mon February 11, 2013
Religion

Benedict XVI, Vatican's Traditionalist Enforcer, Steps Down

The first German pope in a thousand years is a cold, distant intellectual who never served as a parish priest. Cardinal Ratzinger, the Vatican Enforcer, became Pope Benedict XVI. As successor to John Paul II, Benedict was never as beloved by the faithful but still attracted crowds matching those of his media-savvy predecessor.

10:53am

Sat February 9, 2013
The Two-Way

Knights Of Malta Celebrates 900th Anniversary At Vatican

Knights of the Order of Malta walk in procession toward St. Peter's Basilica to mark the 900th anniversary of the Order of the Knights of Malta, on Saturday at the Vatican.
Andreas Solaro AFP/Getty Images

Pilgrims and tourists visiting the Vatican received a special treat Saturday, when some 4,000 members of the Knights of Malta marched in procession to the tomb of St. Peter.

The last of the great chivalrous orders is celebrating the 900th anniversary of its official recognition by Pope Paschal II. On Saturday, the Knights attended Mass in St. Peter's Basilica and received an audience with Pope Benedict XVI.

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3:39am

Thu February 7, 2013
Europe

Privatization Of Greek Assets Runs Behind Schedule

Originally published on Thu February 7, 2013 3:07 pm

Employees of Hellenic Postbank protest during a strike against the bank's privatization in Athens, in December.
John Kolesidis Reuters/Landov

In exchange for multibillion-euro bailouts, Greece was required to sell state-owned assets. But the sweeping privatization process is behind schedule. In addition, European governments are nervous that Chinese, Russian and Arab companies are lining up to take advantage of the Greek fire sale.

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10:45am

Mon February 4, 2013
Europe

For Greeks, Painful Cuts Keep Tearing At The Social Fabric

Originally published on Wed February 6, 2013 6:12 pm

Georgia Kolia, 63, has two adult children, both unemployed. She works as a volunteer distributing loaves of bread at the Agia Zonis Orthodox church soup kitchen for the poor in Athens, Greece, in April 2012.
John Kolesidis Reuters/Landov

Greeks are feeling the squeeze. The social repercussions of three years of austerity measures imposed by international lenders are hitting hard. Thousands of businesses have shut down, unemployment is nearly 27 percent and rising, and the once dependable safety net of welfare benefits is being pulled in.

With further cutbacks and tax hikes about to kick in, Greece's social fabric is being torn apart.

Nowhere are cutbacks more visible and painful than in health care.

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5:13am

Mon February 4, 2013
Europe

Violence At Both Ends Of Political Spectrum Threatens Greece

Originally published on Mon February 4, 2013 8:33 pm

A protester holds a petrol bomb during clashes with riot police after a demonstration against new austerity measures outside the parliament in Athens, Greece, on Nov. 7.
Aris Messinis AFP/Getty Images

Escalating political violence from both the left and right is raising fears of political instability in debt-burdened Greece. The conservative-led government is cracking down on leftist groups, vowing to restore law and order.

But the opposition says authorities are trying to divert people's attention from growing poverty and despair.

Take the latest explosion in Athens โ€” a firebomb at a crowded suburban mall last month that slightly injured two security guards.

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11:58am

Fri January 25, 2013
Europe

Honoring 'Our Will To Live': The Lost Music Of The Holocaust

Originally published on Fri February 1, 2013 9:56 am

The Nazis imprisoned Czech composer Rudolf Karel (shown here in a sketch from 1945) for helping the resistance in Prague. He wrote his compositions down on toilet paper.
Courtesy of Francesco Lotoro

For the past two decades, in a small town in southern Italy, a pianist and music teacher has been hunting for and resurrecting the music of the dead.

Francesco Lotoro has found thousands of songs, symphonies and operas written in concentration, labor and POW camps in Germany and elsewhere before and during World War II.

By rescuing compositions written in imprisonment, Lotoro wants to fill the hole left in Europe's musical history and show how even the horrors of the Holocaust could not suppress artistic inspiration.

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2:46pm

Mon January 7, 2013
Europe

Berlusconi Plots His Comeback: 'You Italians Need Me'

Originally published on Mon January 7, 2013 6:19 pm

Former Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi (left) has returned to Italy's political scene in advance of next month's election. Also in the race is the current Prime Minister Mario Monti (right). They are shown here in November 2011 as Monti took over for Berlusconi.
Alberto Pizzoli AFP/Getty Images

With elections in Italy just weeks away, polls show leftist parties with a comfortable lead. Yet attention is focused on the battle between the former prime minister, Silvio Berlusconi, and the current prime minister, Mario Monti, an austere technocrat.

Monti's platform calls for continued austerity, budget cutting and labor reforms.

While Berlusconi and Monti are the two big names in next month's race, the expected winner is the leader of the leftist Democratic Party, Pier Luigi Bersani.

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12:06pm

Mon December 24, 2012
Europe

A Showdown In Italy Over A Polluting Steel Plant

Originally published on Thu December 27, 2012 9:40 pm

The ILVA steel plant in Taranto, Italy, provides some 20,000 badly needed jobs in a country with a weak economy. But it also spews carcinogens. A court has ordered a partial shutdown, which the government has rejected.
Yara Nardi Reuters /Landov

In an effort to safeguard some 20,000 jobs at a time of rising unemployment,
the Italian government has taken an unprecedented step. It has reversed a court order that called for the partial shutdown of Europe's biggest steel plant because it spews cancer-producing dioxins.

The ILVA steel factory in the southern port city of Taranto pits the government versus the judiciary in a battle over health issues and the need for economic revival.

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3:18am

Mon December 24, 2012
The Salt

At Christmas, A Roman Holiday Revolves Around The Food

Originally published on Fri December 28, 2012 11:05 am

Christmas chocolate and sweets on display at a Christmas market at Piazza Navona on Dec. 20 in Rome.
Alberto Pizzoli AFP/Getty Images

The city of Rome may be the seat of the Roman Catholic Church, but as far as bright, glitzy decorations, Christmas there has always been a rather sober affair.

And yet at Christmastime, there's one area where Romans pull out all the stops โ€” the dinner table.

Even with the economic crisis, outdoor markets, grocery shops and fishmongers are crowded with customers.

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3:18am

Fri December 14, 2012
World

Families Of Spain's 'Stolen Babies' Seek Answers โ€” And Reunions

Originally published on Fri December 14, 2012 10:20 am

Antonio Iniesta demonstrates in Madrid's Puerta del Sol square last month. He's searching for a younger brother he believes is one of Spain's bebes robados, or stolen babies.
Sylvia Poggioli NPR

Allegations of the existence of a secret network of doctors and nuns who stole newborn babies and sold them for adoption are reviving a dark chapter in Spain's recent history.

More than 1,000 people have gone to court hoping to track down sons and daughters or brothers and sisters they were told died in childbirth.

In Madrid's Puerta del Sol square last month, Antonio Iniesta stood next to a poster with the words bebes robados (stolen babies). His demonstration is intended to publicize his search for a brother he's convinced is alive.

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