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.

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