Due to the massive crossing of data between government information databases, about 50,000 possible coincidences have been achieved in the National Registry of Missing and Unlocated Persons (RNPDNO), according to Javier Yankelevich, an official of the National Search Commission.
It is an almost archaeological work, said the head of the Search Operations Directorate in an interview broadcast by the project “Where the disappeared go” obtained by the newspaper Reforma, including varied records, which is giving already results. “I think it’s essential to understand that part of the disappearance problem in Mexico is a data problem,” he said, “there are, various difficulties in crossing information”.
He explained that many databases that could contain information about missing persons do not have a dictionary — a key document for understanding what the database includes — and are not standardized, so they cannot be easily shared between institutions.
The team led by Yankelevich, consults multiple sources and databases – ranging from papers scribbled by gravediggers to institutional computer systems with millions of records – to find missing people, dead or alive.
Indications have emerged from different sources. Since the creation of the project in 2020, the Mass Graves Module has been crossed with the RNPDNO seven times, and thus more than 800 coincidences have been identified. This is only the beginning, he says, of a case-by-case evaluation process.
The digital portal works as a “guide or a manual” for people with missing relatives, said María Luisa Aguilar, of the Prodh Center. The Miguel Agustín Pro Juárez Human Rights Center presented a digital platform called Nosomosexpedientes.mx to help relatives of the disappeared.
The digital space was promoted by members of collectives, the deputy representative of the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights in Mexico (OHCHR), and developed by VIRK. At a press conference, María Luisa Aguilar of the Prodh Center described the digital portal as a “guide or a manual” for relatives searching for disappeared persons who follow up on their complaints to the Prosecutors’ office.
The digital portal seeks to promote the search and investigation actions of the families of disappeared persons in Mexico with legal tools and valuable information so that they can follow up on their investigation files. The platform aims to help family members and provide them with practical guidance on the actions they can take before the law enforcement agencies in Mexico. It is also the result of the questions and experiences that different groups searching for disappeared persons have shared through the organization’s popular education spaces.
The Prodh Center confirmed that the collective processes driven by families generate the most outstanding results. In this context, Nosomosexpedientes.mx aims to help promote important actions that must be carried out in any disappearance investigation, making creative use of digital tools available to those who have a mobile device.
The film can be found on the Netflix streaming platform starring Julieta Egurrola. Disappearances in Mexico are an issue that seems to have no end and leaves thousands of families between pain and uncertainty. Because of that situation, Natalia Beristáin wanted to narrate in her film “Ruido” (Noise) the experience of the relatives of all the disappeared.
The film premiered at the Morelia International Film Festival at the end of October, and since then, it has had good reviews.
What is ‘Ruido’ about? The film shows the drama that relatives experience when an enforced disappearance occurs and what they must live through for the authorities to give them an “answer.”
“Ruido” focuses on Julia, a woman desperately searching for her daughter, who disappeared while on vacation with friends. After nine months, the authorities do not give progress in the case, which forces the woman to search for herself. Natalia Beristáin explained that was the reason for filming this movie.
“Having the opportunity to return to the state where we shot the film and introduce the work done not only to all the people who worked on the production but especially to the families that integrate the Voz y Dignidad collective (as well as representatives of five other search collectives from different states of the country) has been one of the most powerful experiences in my professional life. The presentation of the film a few days ago was a powerful reminder of why we made this movie”.
She added: “Mexico is traversed by violent and brutal stories marking the lives of families torn apart by disappearances. From there, we made this film, and we want to expand a noise as attractive and inspiring, as annoying and uncomfortable, that weaves ties within society to change a national reality that aggravates us. It is about keeping in mind the power of the collective in the search for truth, justice and memory.”
The National Search Commission has registered 27,409 missing and unlocated women nationwide, while 81,593 are missing men.
Seven days into 2023, there are 109,743 missing and not located people nationwide, according to information from the National Search Commission, with a cut to January 7. Last Friday, the body of dermatologist María del Carmen Cruz Segovia was located in Tamaulipas; in that state, there are 12 thousand 469 missing people, according to figures released on the website of the Commission. The case was announced through social networks, and one of the collectives that disseminated the disappearance file is the Tamaulipas Feminist Front. María del Carmen disappeared on December 28 when she was driving her car to the viewpoint of the Altas Cumbres ejido to enjoy the scenery and walk; however, only her car was found there.
UN Women points out that “forced disappearances in Mexico constitute one of the main violations against human rights” and emphasizes that 25% of disappeared persons are women. This information is from November 2022.
It also recognizes the efforts of collectives and organizations “mothers get organized in their communities to defend the right of the disappeared to be sought and who fight for the truth and justice in each case.” The National Search Commission has registered 27,409 missing and unlocated women nationwide, while 81,593 are missing men.
Another case is Lariza Skarlet Opón Velázquez, a 16-year-old girl who disappeared on December 22 in San Mateo Oxtotitlán, and dozens of people joined in her search in Toluca. In the capital of the State of Mexico, a caravan of cars integrated by drivers from a digital transportation platform intensified their search with relatives. Lariza was last seen by her mother when “she went to the store and didn’t come back.”
The Tree of Hope lit up with photographs of those who disappeared by violence in Mexico. In an act full of hope, parents desperately searching for their missing children illuminated a Christmas tree in the Mexican state of Guerrero with a series of lights and hung photographs with the faces of teenagers, women, and men, in the Zocalo of the port of Acapulco. This symbolic act was carried out by the “Asociación de Familias de Desaparecidos en México” Association of Families of the Disappeared in Mexico (AFADEM), who presented “The Tree of Hope” with the faces of those who disappeared by violence in Mexico. In the “Tree of Hope,” each of the relatives told the tragedy they lived in the absence of their loved ones. “If you know someone who has a missing person in their home or someone who has a missing person, do not hesitate to contact any of us,” said AFADEM spokesman Julio Mata.
Socorro Gil Guzmán, one of the mothers of the disappeared, explained her tragedy when her son Jonathan disappeared on December 5, 2018, after going to a soccer championship with his friends. The police detained them, and he was never seen again. “Carlos was tortured, killed, and thrown into the street. My son was disappeared,” the woman lamented. “People do not disappear or get lost, they are taken away by other people, and they are hurt; some are taken to illegal work like young girls, and men are killed,” Gil Guzmán added.
After two weeks of work in Morelos, the National Search Brigade for Missing Persons concluded its day in the state on Friday with the discovery of six bodies and skeletal remains, whose identification is pending.
“Despite the difficulties faced, including the breach of agreements by federal and state authorities in all aspects, this seventh exercise again represented achievements towards the search for missing persons and the construction of peace in Mexico,” the brigade said in a statement.
From November 17 to December 9, more than 150 families joined the search for missing persons in different municipalities of Morelos. Over the week, the brigade exhumed six bodies found in a clandestine grave in the municipality of Cuautla. Days before, they located skeletal remains in a ravine between Cuautla and Ayala and a point of interest in the municipality of Yautepec.
During their work, the brigade demanded authorities guarantee the safety and integrity of the families because, on Friday, December 2, they were intimidated by armed people while working in the municipality of Huitzilac. The events occurred around 1:00 in the afternoon when unidentified people fired several times in the vicinity of the search site to stop the work.
December 4th, 2022 / David Celestino / El Ciudadano
The collective placed photos as a protest against the lack of actions of the authorities to locate their relatives. Regardless of the obstacles of the City Council of Puebla to exercise their right to use public roads, the collective “Voz de los Desaparecidos” placed on the plate of the zócalo its “tree of hope,” with photos of relatives.
For the fifth consecutive year, the families of victims of enforced disappearance posted photos of those whom one day left and have not returned as a protest against the lack of “forceful” actions by the authorities to locate them.
María Luisa Nuñez Barajas, the collective founder, indicated that the tree symbolizes the hope of the people for their disappeared relatives to return and sensitize the Puebla population to this problem that, according to the woman, has reached 3 thousand people.
At the base of two trees, a few meters from the Municipal Palace the collective placed the photos of José María Sedano Posadas, Claudia Morales, Jesús Sayas Martinez, Jesús Gutiérrez Rodríguez and others, who have not been located for months, and even years. Nuñez Barojas stressed that the tree placement is also a search action because, in some cases, they have obtained information from people who see the photos.
Today’s march convoked by the President of Mexico departed from the Angel of Independence monument towards the Zócalo of Mexico City, where the president will issue his fourth government inform. Search groups for disappeared persons in Mexico took advantage of the mobilization of this November 27 – organized in favor of the government of President Andrés Manuel López Obrador (AMLO) – to claim justice and denounce the lack of support from the Executive Branch. Gathered at the Glorieta de la Palma, on Paseo de la Reforma, Mexico City (renamed by civil organizations as the Glorieta de Las y Los Desaparecidos), relatives demonstrated to show the president the faces of those people they have not been able to locate.
The purpose of demonstrators was frustrated since they could not approach the place where the president arrived. In addition, the group had a “clash” with the president’s supporters, who chanted, “AMLO!, AMLO!, AMLO!”. Also, a family gathered in front of the Angel of Independence monument during the march to demand that authorities address their case. They argue that no one takes their case seriously.
“No one is here to attack López Obrador. We need him to help us (…) We need him to support us”
The demonstrators reported that it was the third time the administration headed by Claudia Sheinbaum deleted the names and photographs of their loved ones. “This is our space; here we had all the photos, the names, everything of our disappeared.”
This is the third time that they repainted it, that they covered it again with fences, so in one way or another, we want to let everyone know that this space is ours, explained a mother who has been looking for her son since March 3, 2019.
It is worth mentioning that the demonstration called for November 13 in front of the Glorieta del Ahuehuete took place after last November; groups of relatives of disappeared persons reported on social networks that the government of Mexico City removed the names and photographs of their loved ones on the fences of the old Glorieta de La Palma. Their statement and publication affirmed that these deletion actions only demonstrated the “policy of oblivion.” In addition, they pointed out that the government intends to hide the cases so as not to “taint” the Sheinbaum administration.
Groups and relatives returned to claim the space as theirs; on top of the Christmas paintings ordered by the administration of Claudia Sheinbaum, the demonstrators wrote the legend “Glorieta de Las y Los Desaparecidos.” Photo: Fabiola Sánchez Morales
Mexico has “an arsenal” of recommendations from the United Nations (UN) and the inter-American Human Rights system to address the crisis of disappeared persons. Still, it needs to put them into practice to address this situation, said the vice president of the UN Working Group on Enforced or Involuntary Disappearances, Gabriella Citroni.
The country “has advanced in what we could call institutional scaffolding, new mechanisms have been instituted, and there is a National Search Commission (NSC); But it is not enough; we must follow up and see on a day-to-day basis how it is implemented, where it is blocked and encounters obstacles,” she said in an interview with this media, after meeting with relatives of missing persons.
In a short unofficial visit to the country that lasted two days and a half, she also held meetings with authorities, such as the undersecretary of Human Rights of the Ministry of the Interior, Alejandro Encinas, and the head of the NSC, Karla Quintana. Citroni explained that in the “complex” panorama of disappearances in the country, which total more than 107,000, the Working Group is particularly concerned about the absence of effective preventive measures and the insecurity experienced by those who seek, especially the mothers of victims, as well as impunity and law enforcement.
She also expressed concerns about the legislative reforms “that goes in a direction quite contrary to what the inter-American system for the protection of human rights and the United Nations have been unanimously recommending Mexico regarding public security” after the Army’s powers were extended.
With her visit, she said, “we want to reaffirm with the families that we are monitoring the situation (of disappearances) very closely and that they know that they continue to count on us.” She said we could “provide technical assistance.”