Human Rights and Civil Society

Missing Persons Activist Killed in Tecate, Baja California

02/28/2024 (written by rthompson) – Angelita Meraz León, activist and president of the collective Unión y Fuerza por nuestros Desaparecidos (Unity and Strength for our Disappeared People) in Tecate, was assassinated in a beauty salon in the Loma Alta neighborhood in Tecate on Thursday, February 8th. Armed subjects arrived at the premises and opened fire. The car that was used for the crime was found minutes later, lit on fire, outside the IMSS (Mexican Social Security Institute) clinic. Before her death, León had asked the Baja California State Attorney General’s Office on three separate occasions to provide her with state protection after she received multiple death threats due to her line of work.

Source: SDPN Noticias

Angelita had joined the collective Unión y Fuerza por nuestros Desaparecidos in 2018 after her brother, Juan José Vázquez León, disappeared on the 27th of June of that same year.The collective focuses on searching for missing individuals by pressuring the Mexican government at local and federal levels. Last year, León denounced Baja California’s Attorney General’s office and personnel from the medical forensic service for their negligence in dealing with the disappearance of her brother. After three years of searching independently, Angelita was able to identify José’s body in a common grave, meaning that the authorities had not notified her. After trying to take the necessary steps to recover the body, the authorities determined it to be missing, again.

Societal Response

The death of León caused a surge of in-person protests. On social media, other collectives doing similar work in Mexico have condemned the killing of Angelita, such as those from Tamaulipas and Sonora. Dozens of women, men, and children marched on Saturday February 10th for a mile demanding justice. Some of the phrases said in the protest included, “We are not alone, we are missing Angelita!; Tecate listen, this is your fight!; Sir, madam, don’t be indifferent, women are killed in the face of the people!” (author’s own translation.) The protest began at the Monumento a la Madre and finished in the Palacio Municipal

Some of the organizers of these protests were members of the collectives Futuro Feminista, Verde Violeta Tecate, Tecate en Pie de Lucha, etc. Activist Laura Gutiérrez said in a statement, “We ask that a Prosecutor be appointed to carry out the investigation with a gender and human rights perspective, where no line of investigation is eliminated as is the case of her activity as a human rights defender” (author’s own translation.) León is the second activist murdered in Tecate in 2024, the first murder being Óscar Eyraud Adams, a human right’s activist focused on water rights and the self-determination of native peoples in the municipality of Tecate.

Governmental Response

Since the assassination, Baja California’s State Human Rights Commission has condemned the murder of León and urged authorities to seek justice and thoroughly investigate. La Oficina en México del Alto Comisionado de las Naciones Unidas para los Derechos Humanos (United Nations Human Rights Commission in Mexico) stated that it is “inadmissible that those who suffer the disappearance of a loved one confront lethal aggressions” (author’s own translation). The National Search Brigade recalled that Angelita’s murder is the second assassination of an activist for disappeared people this year. On January 15, Lorenza Cano was also murdered in Guanajuato while searching for her brother. 

Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador claimed that the assassination of Angelita was not related to her work. He stated that “we have everything and the alleged perpetrator has already been identified. And it is a matter that we have to look at calmly, not assume anything” (author’s own translation).


Martínez, Gabriela. “Asesinan a la activista Angelita Meraz León, presidenta del colectivo Unión y Fuerza por Nuestros Desaparecidos.” El Universal. February 8, 2024. 

La Redacción. “Condena ONU-DH asesinato de la activista Angelita Almeras León.” La Jornada. February 9, 2024. 

Villicaña, Crisstian. “Asesinan a activista Angelita León en Tecate; había denunciado amenazas.” El Financiero. February 8, 2024. 

Rivera, Salvador. “Activist on behalf of missing people in Baja gunned down inside her business.” KTSM. February 9, 2024. 

Baranda, Antonio and Guerrero, Claudia. “Desligan crimen de activista con labor de búsqueda.” Reforma. February 10, 2024. 

Corpus, Aline. “Exigen justicia para líder buscadora asesinada en BC.” Reforma. February 10, 2024. 

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