Lorena Ramirez, the Mexican woman who found her missing daughter after 27 years

Marcos González Díaz

BBC News World correspondent in Mexico

April, 17th, 2023

According to official figures, Mexico has more than 110,000 missing people.  Cases with happy endings represent a small ray of hope for many families that could be reunited with their loved ones. This happened to Lorena Ramírez, whose daughter Juana disappeared no less than 27 years ago and who, just over six months ago, she embraced again. Despite all the time that passed, the woman says she never lost hope of finding that three-year-old girl and that she never thought she was not still alive.

And although now in her 50s, she looks to the future with optimism; tears inevitably run down her cheeks as she recalls her life without her daughter and not knowing what would become of her.  After their reunion last year achieved significant repercussions in Mexico, Ramírez shared her story with BBC Mundo about her relationship with her daughter months after reuniting and how she plans to recover their lives. This is her testimony.

Until October 1, 1995, we were an average family. Our daughter Juana was born three years earlier and was a joy. She grew up like any baby. At home, she was very talkative, but outside, she was very sullen with people. She wouldn’t leave with just anyone. I remember everything about her. She loved singing “De América yo soy” and loved fried pork chops. But it was a very short stage… You don’t know what can happen. But we enjoyed her three years as much as possible.

That day in 1995, we decided to walk in the Chapultepec forest in Mexico City with my husband, Juana, my other two older children, and my husband’s relatives. We went to the zoo, sat down to eat, and my children played… Everything went normally.

But when we were about to leave, my husband would bring my young daughter by the right hand and me by the left. We made a circle to say goodbye to other people, and I momentarily let go of my daughter. It turns out that my husband did it too, and I immediately saw that she was gone. I don’t know if it was a mother’s hunch, but I assumed at the time that my daughter had just been stolen.

To read the full article in Spanish:


Photo by Marcos González / BBC

Brave rave women lead the search for the disappeared in Mexico.


Their work has unearthed not only bodies but also the horror and impunity in justice. If Andrés Manuel does not go to the graves, the graves come to him – shouted that day the trackers of Guanajuato.

A truckload of dirt arrived at the Zócalo esplanade in Mexico City and dumped the contents in front of the National Palace. The collectives Hasta Encontrate, Una Luz en el Camino, and Una Promesa simulated the discovery of one of the more than 2,200 clandestine graves located during the current federal administration. The protest occurred on December 13, 2021, in front of the National Palace, office and home of the President of the Republic, Andrés Manuel López Obrador. With this act, the group of trackers became representative of the more than 108,000 families that have disappeared person in the country. Many daily take shovels and pickaxes to search for bodies of missing persons for governments to identify them. “The indifference of the authorities leads us to go out and investigate and put ourselves at risk,” exclaims Karla Martínez of the Hasta Encontrate collective.

Women, not the Mexican State, lead the actions to find their relatives. In 2022, only ten prosecutors’ offices of the entities documented 358 clandestine graves. Of this total, they located more than half. This investigation carried out in partnership with Connectas, found that the findings of clandestine graves are the culmination, mainly, of the search and investigation efforts of the collectives and not of the authorities. Their work has earned them multiple aggressions and forced displacements.

This crisis has surpassed the authorities of the three levels of government throughout the country, says Alan García Campos, coordinator of the Legal and Analysis Unit of the Office of the High Commissioner of the United Nations Organization for Human Rights in Mexico (UN-DH). Last November, UN-DH asked the Mexican authorities to protect the search engines. “Families are strengthened by the authorities’ inactivity, even under great risks. Search is a right, and they have the power to do so, but we must not forget that it is an obligation of the State. It has to be effective but also protected,” warns Garcia.

To read full article in Spanish: