PBI-Mexico accompanies the search for the disappeared

Published by Brent Patterson on

The Peace Brigades International-Mexico Project has posted, “In Saltillo, Coahuila, PBI accompanies groups of families in search of missing persons.”

Saltillo is the capital and largest city of the northeastern Mexican state of Coahuila.

In their post, PBI-Mexico quotes relatives of the disappeared who say, “There is a lack of response from the government to the pain.”

Madeleine Wattenbarger, a journalist based in Mexico City, recently commented in The New Republic, “The president has tried to position himself as an ally of the relatives of Mexico’s more-than-40,000 disappeared people, creating a National Search Commission in February. The slow pace of advances, though, has led some to insist that his supposed efforts perpetuate the same impunity and denial as previous governments.”

The sheer numbers of those who have been disappeared is staggering. As noted above, more than 40,000 people have gone missing in Mexico since 2007.

And the crisis continues.

On May 29, Mexico News Daily reported, “The chief of the National Search Commission (CNB) has revealed that an additional 481 people have been reported missing since she took charge of the agency 100 days ago.”

According to official statistics, there were 1,779 registered cases between 1995 and 2018 of people having been forcibly disappeared in Coahuila.

On June 28, Mexico News Daily noted, “The federal government has apologized for its role in allowing a 2011 massacre in the city of Allende, Coahuila, when as many as 300 people were killed or disappeared at the hands of the Zetas cartel.”

The Governor of Coahuila also apologized on behalf of his government.

The news article adds that Interior Secretary Olga Sánchez Cordero “acknowledged that local police participated in the disappearances, while higher-level officials had advance knowledge of the Zetas’ plan and did nothing to prevent it.”

The PBI-Mexico website notes, “The collectives of family members of disappeared people that have organized themselves in order to search for their loved ones, as well as the international pressure surrounding the topic have permitted certain advances in the work undertaken in the search for and identification of disappeared people.”

It highlights as an example that recommendations from the United Nations Working Group on Forced and Involuntary Disappearances have begun to be implemented.

In 2017 a state law was adopted with the aim of identifying “each and every disappeared person as well as remains localized in open fields.”

In turn, this law led to an Exhumation Plan that facilitates coordination between authorities and civil society in the search for and identification of bodies.

PBI is an international observer in the Exhumation Plan.

PBI-Mexico also accompanies the Diocesan Human Rights Centre Fray Juan de Larios A.C., an organization that provides legal aid, psychological assistance and organizational support for the families of the disappeared.

PBI-Mexico has noted some challenges with the Exhumation Plan but has commented that it “at least [offers] a glimmer of hope within the bleak panorama of forced disappearance in Mexico.”

It’s poignant to remember the impact of the disappearances on families.

On May 10, Mother’s Day in Mexico, thousands of mothers marched in 23 cities across the country to demand that the government find their disappeared children.

“Mother’s Day is not a party, it is a struggle and a protest.”

#HastaEncontrarlos (Until they are found)

Categories: News Updates

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