Who is looking for the 91 thousand disappeared men and women of Mexico?

Mexico.- The stories seem to repeat themselves over and over again without anything changing. Men and women victims of enforced disappearance add up to the official statistics of the federal authority, but also the black figure of the cases that no one reports out of fear, ignorance or omission of the State.

Specialists interviewed by Debate pointed out that Mexico requires real access to justice in this regard, as well as empathy with the victims and their families and true responsibility on the part of the State. From March 15, 1964 to August 31, 2021, the total number of missing persons and not officially located is 91,369 citizens, including women and children. In addition, according to the federal authority, from December 1, 2018 to June 30, 2021, during the AMLO government, 21,546 people reported without appearing.

Multiple disappearances

Édgar Chávez Hernández, a social and academic anthropologist at the Universidad Autónoma Metropolitana, pointed out in an interview for Debate that currently falls short and in the narrative the idea of ​​double disappearance in Mexico, which refers to when people disappear for the families, and often also when they disappear for the State. He pointed out that in reality there are multiple disappearances that a person and their families face.

“What the social diagnosis also tells us and also of the disappearances in Mexico and most of all the facts and what the families describe, there is an implication and permissibility on the part of the State at all levels,” he said.

Chávez Hernández argued that disappearance is primarily a crime and later there may be a social disappearance —which is in the first minutes, hours, days—, where the social environment of the family looking for this disappeared person can be stigmatized.

“It is this part where it is said, it is criminalized, and it is said that ‘it was for something’, ‘that person would be doing something wrong’, if it is a girl ‘she went with the boyfriend’, and then these 72 hours have to pass that are supposedly there as a minimum to be able to take a complaint for enforced disappearance. Most of the time, circumstantial letters are made that have nothing to do with it, such as legally carrying out a process from the beginning for disappearance, “he lamented.

He pointed out that the forensic part also adds to the multiple disappearance, from how they settle at the level in the Semefos, for example, the protection of a person who has been found in some type of circumstance and this does not give rise or place, to which the Families can make this meeting prior to any type of genetic and other analysis, or simply the examination of the documents that the institutions have legally to find out if there is a person with X characteristics that may lead to the person they are looking for.

Research folders

Chávez Hernández, also an academic at the Metropolitan Autonomous University, added that there are relatives who have searched for years and even further from their own environment, to realize that their relative was in the same municipality, in Semefo or in a common grave or the best in the town next door.

Unfortunately, he said, a loss of identity also occurs in those missing persons. He explained that with the covid-19 pandemic there are fathers and mothers who have died from going out to look for their children, as well as seekers and seekers.

In this sense, he added that a poorly integrated folder of the person they were looking for is unlikely to be followed up if there was not someone else in that family who would have reported that disappearance or to follow up on that disappearance.

“If in life these relatives were denied the investigation folders, the copies, which is also something very common and that information is not properly established, it gives us space to understand that this is another type of disappearance of the identity of the people and particularly on the legal point ”, he opined.

New ways to disappear

Alejandra Cartagena López, researcher responsible for the Torture Executions and Disappearances program at the Francisco Suárez University Center for Dignity and Justice, from Iteso, pointed out that the profile of disappearances has changed over the years. He indicated that 60 years ago in Latin America and in Mexico, political opponents were disappeared above all, in the context of very authoritarian governments.

But today those who perpetrate disappearances in the country have different profiles. One of the main, according to the specialist, are criminal groups, whose presence has a symbolic value of great impact, since they threaten democracy, the rule of law and governance and cause indifference among those who do not feel alluded to. .

Cartagena López added that another important number of disappearances is committed by ordinary people who feel protected by impunity, which has caused anyone to disappear because they owe someone money, due to domestic violence or in an assault. The disappearance of state agents also follows, who, according to Cartagena López, remain without assuming responsibility for the events.

He argued that in the opinion of some families, it is considered that there is a forced disappearance when the State does not comply with its obligation to search for those who have disappeared and punish those responsible, whoever they are, but it is not considered this way from the interpretation of the jurists . For Cartagena López it could be, if the unfulfilled obligations of governments are analyzed and how they have caused the increase in the phenomenon.

“Governments are not the only ones who have trouble recognizing that there is a generalized situation in the country. In Mexico, many ordinary people have a motive to justify these crimes, ”he said.

Disappearance can happen to all of us

He exemplified that in the sixties, of the 20th century, governments affirmed that communism would invade the country, a very Catholic country and with this discourse they made the population raise their shoulders to the imprisonments, torture, disappearances and murders of many and many young women. . Now, he opined that the speech is that all the victims were involved in something dark or illegal. That they and their families deserve what happens to them, lamented Alejandra Cartagena López.

As he explained, the disappeared affect the whole of society, even if they belong to criminal groups, because there are laws that oblige governments to investigate, detain and obtain information from detainees in order to understand what is happening and combat the problem.

“When there are no fair criminal trials, it happens that disappearance can happen to all of us while we do the activities of our daily lives,” he said.

Against this background, he pointed out that hope in Mexico is real access to justice. And it’s empathy with the victims and their families


And what are missing children blamed for disappearing? Tania Ramírez, director of the organization, reported that there is a tragic statistic that shows that every day 12 children and adolescents have been reported as missing or missing during 2021, seen as part of a criminal pattern that has not ceased even during the pandemic. against childhood.

“The seriousness of the problem is of such magnitude that the official figures that are registered increase as the hours go by. And in the case of our country, although most of the cases are located, one in every 100 people is found dead, “he said.

According to the Network for Children’s Rights in Mexico (Redim) from January 1 to August 27, 2021, 1,114 people from 0 to 17 years old have been registered missing or not located. This figure, as detailed, represents an increase of 19.5 percent with respect to the 932 people of the same age reported missing or not located during the same period of 2020.

He recalled that with international pressure from families, civil society organizations and international human rights organizations, the Disappearance Law against children was achieved.

“Unfortunately, it is possible that this effort will be insufficient if the current human rights crisis that the country is experiencing is not resolved, marked by strong and deep transnational macrocriminal networks, which allow war to fuel large businesses, such as arms trafficking, the recruitment and enslavement of people for sexual, labor or military purposes, among other crimes ”, he highlighted.

Romanticize the search

Édgar Chávez Hernández, a social and academic anthropologist at the Autonomous Metropolitan University, said that it is a primary responsibility of the State to search, locate and present the disappeared persons, but with the different groups of civilian searchers it seems that the responsibility shifts to the families .

“Unfortunately, and I also have to be critical in this way, the idea of ​​search engines in Mexico has been romanticized and, then, suddenly, it has also become profitable — profitable in narrative terms — to say that women, search engines, they have this endowment of responsibility over the search for their relatives, because precisely the contradictory message is that the State does not do it, “he said.

But also, he added, it is endowed with a double social responsibility in which they have to learn the use of tools, knowledge and now multidisciplines that not even the same specialists or academics have. “So that is very important to point out, because we should be leveling the attention to the victims.”

She emphasized that it is currently very important to make women seekers visible because of this vulnerability they experience. Even all those people who are looking for their relatives and are being infected with covid-19, and also, of course, from those people who have been killed looking for their relatives.

To understand …

What does the UN call enforced disappearance?

Miguel Ángel Álvarez Rodríguez, head of the Citizen Security and Justice program of the Francisco Suárez University Center for Dignity and Justice, pointed out through the institution that the UN calls the arrest, deprivation of liberty, detention and transfer of persons forced disappearance Against their will, perpetrated by people who work for the Government, in any sector or level. He indicated that the UN defines that enforced disappearance also occurs when organized groups or ordinary people act on behalf of the Government or have its direct or indirect support, authorization or consent.

Read more: Government of Mexico asks to review 432 abortion cases after Supreme Court ruling

The Data

Could add up to 100 thousand

The undersecretary of Human Rights, Population and Migration, Alejandro Encinas, pointed out that the disappeared could add up to 100,000 by the end of 2021.

They go by helicopter for a woman to the Sierra de San Ignacio, Sinaloa


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