FacebookTwitterRedditEmail

Mexico’s Disappeared Who Won’t Disappear 

As in previous years, Mexicans commemorated August 30, the International Day of Victims of Forced Disappearance. Marches, protests, masses and meetings were held by relatives of the disappeared and their supporters in different regions of the country, including the states of Chihuahua, Jalisco and Guerrero, where the numbers of forcibly disappeared persons keeps climbing into the thousands.

In Chihuahua City, a downtown march focused renewed attention on the disappeared, including seven communications technology workers who went missing on August 22, 2015, in the northwestern part of the state. Ranging from 17 to 55 years of age, the men were reportedly installing an antenna for an anti-drug national telecommunications system financially supported by the U.S. government’s Merida Initiative.

In a communique, the Chihuahua City-based Women’s Human Rights Center criticized the state government’s response to the disappearance of the men, alleging that justice officials argued they were hampered from progressing in the investigation because “they don’t have money for gasoline.” The Galeana 7 is among the “1,799 disappeared persons in the state of Chihuahua who are not looked for,” the civil society human rights organization contended.

Four hours to the north in Ciudad Juarez, human rights organizations “symbolically closed” the local headquarters of the Chihuahua State Prosecutor in a protest against the unresolved disappearances of both men and women. Among the participants in the action were Father Oscar Enriquez, director of the Paso del Norte Human Rights Center; Imelda Marrufo, founder of the Ciudad Juarez Women’s Roundtable; parents of feminicide victims; and other civil society groups.

The Paso del Norte Regional Popular Assembly later added its voice in support of the demonstration, charging the government with waging a war against the people, as if it was directed against organized crime, and “covering up illegal businesses, including the sexual exploitation of disappeared women.”

On August 30, Chihuahua Governor-elect Javier Corral met with representatives of the Women’s Human Rights Center, the Commission in Solidarity and Defense of Human Rights and Justice for Our Daughters.  He pledged to create a special prosecutorial division tasked with investigating forced disappearance and other serious human rights violations.

Acknowledging that forced disappearance is “one of the phenomena that shame us in the state of Chihuahua, above all in Mexico,” Corral cited the case of Cuauhtemoc, Chihuahua, where hundreds are reported disappeared.  A city located on a strategic narco route to and from the Sierra Madres, Cuauhtemoc “is a point of concentration of this problem, of this tragedy,” Corral said.

In the violence-torn, southern state of Guerrero, where reports of at least 500 forced disappearances since 2013 join hundreds of other cases from previous years stretching back to the Dirty War of the 1960s and 1970s, an estimated 700 people conducted an August 30 march in the state capital of Chilpancingo.

Turning out for the protest were parents of the 43 disappeared Aytozinapa college students, current Ayotzinapa students, relatives of disappeared persons in Acapulco, Chilapa and Iguala, teachers affiliated with the striking National Coordinator of Education Workers, and other social movement activists. A police riot squad greeted the marchers at state government headquarters.

The previous day, Ayotzinapa parents and other family members of disappeared persons attended a Chilpancingo forum where different cases were analyzed and discussed, such as the mass kidnappings and killings that have surrounded a narco battle for the city of Chilapa, Guerrero.

Jose Diaz Navarro, representative of the Siempre Vivos (Forever Alive) collective told how five of his relatives along with two friends, architects who happened to be visiting Guerrero, were forcibly disappeared from Chilapa and mutilated in November 2014. “My relatives aren’t delinquents…,” Diaz declared.

Adriana Bahena Cruz, president of Iguala’s Other Disappeared organization that formed after the mass disappearance of the 43 Aytozinapa male college students led to the discovery of secret graves outside the Guerrero city that contained the remains of other victims, updated the forum on the efforts of her organization.  “We managed to exhume 149 bodies in search of our disappeared,” Bahena said. “We got genetic profiles from the search and managed to bring peace and quiet to 18 families belonging to our collective.”

Edgardo Buscaglia, renowned international organized crime expert, told the attendees that real justice would come from civil society, not the state. Buscaglia recommended that transnational justice, as in the form of truth commissions, be applied to Mexico.

Overall, August was a busy month for anti-forced disappearance activists. In the lead up to the International Day of Victims of Forced Disappearance, another round of national protests focused on the Ayotzinapa 43. In Acapulco, about 100 members of Acapulco Families in Search of Our Disappeared staged a march down the main tourist strip of the Pacific port city. “People, wake up, violence is at your door!” the marchers clamored.

In Ciudad Juarez, relatives and supporters repainted the pink crosses that symbolize the struggle against the murder and disappearance of women. They also posted new missing persons posters in the streets, which tend to deteriorate or get torn down after time.

In comments to the Mexican press, Ciudad Juarez resident Norma Laguna, whose daughter Idaly Juache Laguna was identified as among the victims discovered at a clandestine burial ground in the Juarez Valley during 2011-13, said gender violence and the disappearance of women remained a grave problem, with at least 27 homicides of women and 16 new disappearances occurring in the border city this year.

On the Facebook page dedicated to Puerto Vallarta’s Erika Cueto, who vanished in November 2014, loved ones contrasted the rapid response of authorities to the recent snatching of Chapo Guzman’s son and five other men from a Puerto Vallarta restaurant recently (Chapo’s son was later reported released) to their assessment of the official handling of Cueto’s disappearance, which has been marked by failures to gather evidence and take witness statements, “half-way work” and investigative slowness, according to a page post.

“We demand that all the disappeared are looked for with the same resources, rapidness and efficiency,” the Facebook reads. “It’s only when economic interests or the image of a tourist destination like Puerto Vallarta are affected that there is a hurry to investigate. Enough of wanting to cover the sun with a finger, Vallarta is not a safe place for its citizens. More than 100 disappearances and counting, plus those that are not denounced because of fear.”

Additional sources.  

Elpuntero.com.mx, August 30, 2016. Article by Joel Rodriguez. Arrobajuarez.com, August 30, 2016. Lapolaka.com, August 29 and 30, 2016.
El Diario de Juarez, August 27, 2016. Article by Luz del Carmen Sosa.
El Sur, August 28, 30 and 31, 2016. Articles by Karina Contreras and Lourdes Chavez. La Jornada, August 18 and 30, 2016. Articles by Ruben Villalpando and Sergio Ocampo.

More articles by:

Kent Paterson is a freelance journalist who covers the southwestern United States, the border region and Mexico. He is a regular contributor to CounterPunch and the Americas Program. 

bernie-the-sandernistas-cover-344x550
Weekend Edition
December 06, 2019
Friday - Sunday
Julian Rose
Why I Don’t Have a Mobile Phone
Elliot Sperber
Class War is Chemical War
December 05, 2019
Colin Todhunter
Don’t Look, Don’t See: Time for Honest Media Reporting on Impacts of Pesticides
Nick Pemberton
Gen Z and Free Speech
Bob Lord
The U-Turn That Made America Staggeringly Unequal
Josh White
The Most Important Election in British History
Daniel Warner
The Hillsborough Soccer Tragedy: Who is Responsible?
Dean Baker
The Big Deal in Warren’s Prescription Drug Plan
George Ochenski
Another Utility Disaster Headed Our Way
Binoy Kampmark
Spying on Assange: the Spanish Case Takes a Turn
Victor Grossman
Big Rallies and Big Differences in Germany
L. Ali Khan
A Playboy Misrules Pakistan
William J. Astore
How American Exceptionalism is Killing the Planet
Susie Day
The Mad Activist Impeaches Western Culture
Andrés Castro
Look Out for the Drift
December 04, 2019
Jefferson Morley
RIP Fred Hampton: a Black Visionary Assassinated by the FBI
Vijay Prashad
Wealthy Countries’ Approach to Climate Change Condemns Hundreds of Millions of People to Suffer
Kenneth Surin
The Tory Election “Campaign” to Date
Maria Paez Victor
Indians Shall Not Govern
Peter Lackowski
Bolivia’s Five Hundred-Year Rebellion
Dave Lindorff
Billionaire Entitlement Run Amok: the Case of Michael Bloomberg
Doug Johnson Hatlem
Is Corbyn for Christmas Just Another Stove Pipe-Dream?
Howard Lisnoff
Elizabeth Warren: Savior of a Fallen System?
Robert Fisk
The Remembrance Poppy is Becoming a Weapon Against Immigrants to Canada
Dean Baker
NAFTA was About Redistributing Wealth Upwards
Richard Greeman
French Unions and Yellow Vests Converge, Launch General Strike
Binoy Kampmark
Legitimised Surveillance: Kim Dotcom’s Case Against GCSB
Walter Clemens
Goodbye Law and Morality, Welcome Pretend Tough!
Sam Pizzigati
Football Without Billionaires? Why Not?
Anthony Giattino
Royal Forests of America
December 03, 2019
Richard Lachmann
Can the US Get Out of Its Endless Wars?
Ramzy Baroud
Israel’s Unfinished ‘Coup’
David Rosen
The Dialectics of Postmodern Sexual Identity
Robert Fisk
Reporting Syria: I Talked to Everyone, Except Assad
Patrick Cockburn
Why the Resignation of Iraq’s Prime Minister May Not Stop the Mass Uprising on the Horizon
Norman Solomon
For Corporate Media, It’s ‘Anybody But Sanders or Warren’
Bob Scofield
Uruguay Turns to the Right
Joe Emersberger
Talking About Ecuador’s Political Prisoners: an Interview With Marcela Aguiñaga
Medea Benjamin
Trump Was Right: NATO Should Be Obsolete
Nyla Ali Khan
Lesson in Diplomacy for India’s Consul General Sandeep Chakravorty
William Gudal
The Bubble Machine
Gaither Stewart
Dirty Hands
Peter Certo
End the Wars, Win the Antiwar Vote
Binoy Kampmark
The Liveris Formula: Dow’s Inclusive Capitalism
Dan Bacher
California Freezes New Fracking Permits – But All Oil Drilling Permits Still Outpace 2018
FacebookTwitterRedditEmail