“I’m looking for my dad”: the video of children digging to find their missing relatives in Mexico.

In an emotional video published on Saturday, a group of children takes sticks and hoes to an area of Jalisco, Mexico, where they found human remains. In this country, there are more than 100,000 missing people. This is the story behind the video.

Isaías Alvarado / September 17 2022 / Univision Noticias

It was a spontaneous action that occurred this Saturday in Tlaquepaque, in the Mexican state of Jalisco, where they found the charred remains of a person. Volunteers and groups searching for the missing paused while a bulldozer worked. During that break, several children took shovels and hoes to continue removing the earth’s surface.

“I’m looking for my dad,” was the response given by one of them to Ceci Flores, leader of the collective Madres Buscadoras de Sonora, who shared a video on Twitter that recorded the emotional participation of the minors. Ceci Flores said: “In my country, children join the searches for missing parents.”

“It is an unfortunate thing to see so many children there. We began to see that children arrived and grabbed shovels, picks, to start removing the bricks they took out of the earth,” Flores described in an interview with Univision Noticias.

 “Suddenly, it was four, five children, and then more children using shovels and taking turns because they got tired. When one of them got tired, another grabbed the shovel. They were all victims,” the activist lamented. She was also moved that a girl was collaborating without having any missing relatives. “Children show solidarity, empathy, and desire to support their peers,” she said.


To read the entire article in Spanish and watch the video:

https://www.univision.com/noticias/america-latina/personas-desaparecidas-mexico-cici-flores

Children in search of relatives, the other side of disappearances in Mexico

DANIEL ALONSO EL PAÍS Mexico – 01 SEPT 2022 – 20:13 CDT

A report tells the stories of children whose relatives disappeared; these children search for their relatives due to the authorities’ inaction.

Fernando was five years old when he participated in his first search. Now he is ten and still remembers: “My uncle told me that a person was buried there, and we dug it up, and yes, there he was. We dug with a pick and a shovel. I didn’t think anything, I just thought about the person, that they had buried him and he was tied up and had three bullets. […] He was tortured. But I’m not scared anymore.”

This is one of the testimonies collected in the report Childhood Counts 2022: Children and Disappearances, carried out by the Network for the Rights of Children in Mexico (REDIM), a coalition of 72 civil organizations distributed in 18 states of the nation that has been operating since 1995. The report presented on August 30, on the International Day of the Victims of Enforced Disappearance, has two parts. The first focuses on missing children and adolescents.

The second part of the report shows the other side of the coin: children born into families who struggle with the disappearance of a brother, a father, or an uncle.  Many of these families are forced to search for their loved ones due to the inaction of the authorities.

Tania Ramírez, director of REDIM, assures that “the disappearance crisis leaves the problem to the families of the victims. Today, disappearances, particularly, those of children and adolescents, suffer invisibility, including stigma, and silence that mourns families.”

https://elpais.com/mexico/2022-09-02/los-ninos-buscadores-la-otra-cara-de-las-desapariciones-en-mexico.html

Relatives of the disappeared during a mass at the Cathedral of Guadalajara. ROBERTO ANTILLON

Disappeared in Mexico, a problem of the past and the present

Los Ángeles Times

ASSOCIATED PRESS

August 30, 2022, 2:20 PM PT

MEXICO CITY — In small groups across Mexico, relatives of more than 100,000 who disappeared demanded law enforcement effectiveness and the search for their loved ones.

Guillermo Fernández Maldonado, a representative of the United Nations Office for Human Rights, who participated in one of the marches in the capital said the figures recognized by authorities are “really huge.” He warned that “it is not something that we talked about in the past, but (that) they are serious situations that continue to happen every day.”

On the International Day of the Victims of Enforced Disappearance, families once again walked along emblematic avenues of Mexico City with photographs of their loved ones.

They demand the government comply with the recommendations presented in April by the UN Committee on Enforced Disappearances, which, among other measures, called for combating impunity that it described as “almost absolute” and “structural.” The Committee also urged the authorities to recognize all forms of State responsibility, whether for direct action or for complicity or omission in disappearances carried out by organized crime, which is the main perpetrator.

The most internationally known case is the 43 teaching students who disappeared in 2014 in southern Mexico. Still, they’re the lost ones. The families ask to comply with search protocols during the first hours of disappearance; the importance is to locate someone and ask for greater coordination between institutions. Although the federal government has advanced in legislation and search, it does not always have the support of state governments. The collectives that support the victims also reminded the government that more funds are needed to search and advance the extraordinary forensic identification mechanism that had just begun in three states. They also call for the launch of the National Forensic Data Bank, which, by law, should already be operational.

https://www.latimes.com/espanol/mexico/articulo/2022-08-30/desaparecidos-en-mexico-problema-del-pasado-y-del-presente

Families from Mexico and Central America weave solidarity networks to strengthen the search for their loved ones.

On August 27 and 28, the First Regional Conference was held in Guatemala and brought together 45 relatives of disappeared persons.

INTERNATIONAL COMMITTEE OF THE RED CROSS

PRESS RELEASE 28 AUGUST 2022 GUATEMALA MÉXICO HONDURAS EL SALVADOR

Guatemala City. In the framework of the International Day of Missing Persons, commemorated on August 30, the committee coordinated the First Regional Conference of Relatives of Disappeared Persons as part of the activities to accompany families in the region. In this space, 45 people representing 24 associations from El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, and Mexico exchanged reflections, experiences and lessons learned in the search processes to contribute to the strengthening of a solidarity network that transcends borders.

As part of the conference activities, the families agreed on a statement to highlight their needs and feelings. “We live in permanent limbo aski,ng ourselves again and again: where are they, will they be alive, will they be dead? Physically absent, but always present in our mind and heart,” they said at a press conference.

Armed conflict, migration, armed violence… the context and circumstances of disappearances in each country in the region may be different. Still, the families share the same need: to know what happened to them and where their loved ones are. For the first time, relatives from El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras, me met with the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) organization xchange experiences and strengthen their search processes.

“We want to look at the disappearance of the relatives from different points of view. We get closer, walk together and try to ,understand,” said Olivier Dubois, head of the ICRC’s regional delegation.

To read the full press release in Spanish:

https://www.icrc.org/es/document/familias-de-mexico-y-america-central-tejen-red-de-solidaridad-para-fortalecer-la-busqueda


Mexico says disappearance of 43 students was a ‘crime of the state’

The authorities said for the first time that the state had been a key player in the likely massacre of students from a teachers’ college in 2014.

Oscar Lopez / The New York Times

Aug. 18, 2022 Updated Aug. 20, 2022

MEXICO CITY — The disappearance of 43 Mexican students in 2014 was a “crime of the state” involving every layer of government, an official inquiry reported on Thursday, in the most profound admission to date of government responsibility for one of the most notorious atrocities in Mexico’s modern history.

“At all times the federal, state and municipal authorities had knowledge of the students’ movements,” a government truth commission said in its preliminary findings. “Their actions, omissions and participation allowed for the disappearance and execution of the students, as well as the murder of six other people.”

The violent abduction and disappearance of the students, young men from a teachers’ college in the rural town of Ayotzinapa, and a subsequent cover-up that the commission confirmed extended to some of the highest national offices, have long been sources of national outrage, underscoring the cartel-fueled carnage and insidious state corruption that continue to wrack the country.Getting to the bottom of the students’ disappearance was a central campaign promise of President Andrés Manuel López Obrador, who created the truth commission to investigate the likely massacre and cover-up as one of his first actions in office.

To read the full article:

Activist Juana Garrido said that the murals remark where disappearances occur in Mexico City and represent a way of protesting.

Karla Mora | El Sol de México July 21, 2022

In November 2019, in the Lindavista area, Ángel Ramírez, Jesús Reyes and Leonel Báez disappeared. Yesterday, a few meters from where they were last seen, at the intersection of Calzada Misterios and Euzkaro Street, groups and relatives painted a mural to evidence this and dozens of other disappearances that occurred in the capital of the country. This is the eighth mural created by the collective “Hasta Encontrarlos CDMX” under the initiative “Muralism and art for our disappeared,” they go to the nearest places where the disappearances occurred to inform the population of the searches and to remind authorities about these cases.

Juana Garrido, one of the activists and sister of Viviana Elizabeth, who disappeared on November 30, 2018, in the Benito Juárez mayor’s office, explained that the murals remark where disappearances occur in Mexico City as a way to protest the lack of action by the authorities.

“We have to show what is happening in the city. It is also an awareness project for the community; we explain to people what the mural is about and who our disappeared are; this raises a lot of awareness. It is relevant for the community to know what is happening around the corner from their home,” she said.

The other murals to remember the disappeared are located in the mayor’s offices of Benito Juárez, Tlalpan, Iztapalapa, Iztacalco and Gustavo A. Madero.

María de Lourdes Romero Díaz and Áurea Rubí Reyes Escobar are looking for Leonel Báez Martínez and Jesús Reyes Escobar, respectively, both disappeared in Lindavista. They remember that, when they began the search, the authorities told them not to worry, that they had surely gone to “Acapulco Port for a vacation.”

They also claim they have been revictimized, a situation they share with dozens of families.

https://www.elsoldemexico.com.mx/metropoli/cdmx/gam-visibilizan-desapariciones-de-personas-con-mural-8628209.html

Photo: Roberto Hernández EL SOL DE MÉXICO

Mexico: Families of the disappeared “close” prosecutor’s office

INFOBAE August 6, 2022

Mexico City (AP). Relatives of the disappeared in Mexico blocked the headquarters of the Attorney General’s Office on Saturday afternoon and placed posters with the slogan “Closed.” They demand the creation of the National Forensic Data Bank that would help name the bodies distributed in graves and morgues in the country.

Shouting “Identification Now,” dozens of relatives reminded the authorities that, as established by law, such a database should already be working, yet it does not even exist.

According to federal government figures, Mexico has more than 100,000 disappeared, 98% of them since 2006, when the frontal war against the cartels began. In addition, with 52,000 unidentified deaths in the country, it is experiencing an urgent forensic crisis, and the solution is still pending.

According to the statement read by the relatives on Saturday, the federal prosecutor’s office is “failing in its obligation to concentrate the country’s forensic information, since it only has the genetic information of 15,000 bodies.” There is either no information, or it is scattered by the prosecutors’ offices from the 32 entities.

During the government of Andrés Manuel López Obrador, the National Search Commission was launched, and a temporary and independent entity was created with the support of the United Nations, which is expected to expedite the pending work. Crossing information is essential; for this, we need cooperation that does not exist between entities, as the federal government recognized.

However, the United Nations reported that one of the country’s main problems is that disappearances continue because of impunity.

https://www.infobae.com/america/agencias/2022/08/06/mexico-familias-de-desaparecidos-clausuran-fiscalia/

Forced disappearances continue

El Sol de México / Alfredo Maza / July 27, 2022.

In the administration of President López Obrador, new cases of forced disappearances committed by security forces have emerged. According to a report published by the U.S. Congressional Research Service (CRS), disappearances were not resolved before this period.

According to the document “Mexico: attention to disappeared and unlocated persons,” only from January to June 2021, the National Commission of Human Rights (CNDH) received nine complaints of forced disappearance, while human rights defenders say that these cases are often underestimated.

In Mexico, according to the report, human rights organizations say victims “are even handed over to organized crime groups, who often hold them for ransom, extort them or use them for forced labor.”

The document also states that until now, Mexican authorities “did little to address the issue of enforced disappearances.” In 2017, Peña Nieto’s government passed a law on enforced disappearances “but did not ensure its implementation.”

In López Obrador’s administration, the CRS acknowledges that steps have been taken to address enforced disappearances. The document points out that amid the “forensic crisis,” the government has sought international help, receiving support from experts from the US, Argentina, and Austria, among others. In addition, it recognizes the creation of an Extraordinary Forensic Information Mechanism.

The document submits that “there are still significant gaps” and a series of obstacles that have prevented addressing disappearances, including inadequate funds and personnel in commissions and forensic laboratories; mishandling of corpses and case information; low political will, and insufficient access to DNA analysis.

The National Search Commission (CNB) counted more than one thousand 749 clandestine graves between December 2018 and July 2022 and identified one thousand 153 of the three thousand 25 bodies exhumed from these graves. Still, the Commission has only received small annual budget increases since 2020, which has caused “problems to searching for the disappeared people.”

https://www.elsoldemexico.com.mx/mexico/sociedad/siguen-las-desapariciones-forzadas-en-la-4t-8652151.html

Collective of mothers and families looking for the disappeared in Tamaulipas / Photo: El Sol de Tampico.

The study on the disappeared in Mexico is almost ready: President AMLO

La Jornada. Nestor Jiménez and Alonso Urrutia. July 21, 2022

After 100,000 disappeared people in the country according to official data from the National Registry of Disappeared Persons (NRDP), President Andrés Manuel López Obrador said that a study is about to be concluded in this regard because it is an issue that his opponents have used. He defended that it was with his government that the searches by the authorities began.

At his daily press conference regarding the federal government’s actions to support searching for missing persons, he said, “we are working every day for that,” “protecting families who are looking for their loved ones.”

Referring to the 100,000 missing people registered in the NRDP, reached on May 17, he highlighted the support for the search for the disappeared.

“We are about to finish an investigation on disappearances because the issue is used by our adversaries to question our work. Regarding the ‘100,000 disappeared in Mexico,’ “I am here daily, working on security issues. 100,000 did not disappear during this government, but the reading could indicate that, so we are doing an investigation to clarify that.”

President AMLO indicated, “the search begins practically with us, with our government. He clarified that “of course” searching starts with mothers of the disappeared, but “the government begins to look for them from the moment this administration began. We can prove that.”

President López Obrador during his press conference on July 21, 2022. Photo Yazmín Ortega Cortés

Special Prosecutor’s Office for Missing Persons carries out search operations in the metropolitan area of Guadalajara, Jalisco.

TELEDIARIO Editorial Jalisco / 16.07.2022

The Special Prosecutor’s Office for Missing Persons (FEPD) carries out search operations in the Metropolitan Area of Guadalajara as part of the permanent actions in coordination with agencies of the three levels of government and relatives of the victims of disappearance.

FEPD personnel, in coordination with the State Search Commission, Jalisco Security Secretariat, and the National Guard, carried out a search operation on July 15 and 16 in collaboration with the collective “Corazones Unidos por Nuestros Desaparecidos.”

This operation is part of the FEPD’s daily work with civil society groups searching for people in Jalisco, following the protocols established by current legislation. At the same time, personnel from the specialized prosecutor’s office carry out several operations in “Los Altos” and the North region of the state in coordination with the Secretariat of National Defense (Sedena), the National Guard, and municipal authorities.

San Diego de Alejandría, Unión de San Antonio, Mezquitic, San Juan de los Lagos, and surrounding areas, are the municipalities where the works will continue. The Prosecutor’s Office emphasizes its commitment to society to carry out all the actions required to find people and offer accompaniment to the indirect victims of this crime and the groups that represent them.

https://www.telediario.mx/comunidad/fepd-jalisco-realiza-operativos-busqueda-amg