05/15/12- Hundreds of mothers marched in Mexico on Sunday, May 10, not in festive celebration of Mother’s Day, which is celebrated every year on that date in Mexico, but to demand justice for their missing children. While smaller contingents of women took to the streets in other parts of the country, the largest march occurred in Mexico City, and was made up of mothers and families from Chihuahua, Coahuila, Guanajuato, Mexico state (Estado de México), Nuevo León, Querétaro, San Luis Potosí, and Tamaulipas. The “National March for Dignity, Mothers Searching for Their Children and Asking for Justice” (“Marcha de la Dignidad Nacional, madres buscando a sus hijos y buscando justicia”), the name of the march, demanded official investigations of their missing children, regardless of how exactly they were disappeared (i.e. kidnapped, killed in drug-related violence and never identified, last seen with government officials, extrajudicially disappeared). A number of the mothers marching were joined by families members along the way.
The number of disappeared in Mexico has been on the rise as of late, with the National Commision of Human Rights (Comisión Nacional de Derechos Humanos, CNDH) reporting that 5,300 people have been disappeared since 2006, which is when President Felipe Calderón took office. In addition, as CNN reports, CNDH also stated that over 9,000 of the nearly 50,000 people killed over the past six years have not been identified, which adds to the problem of disappearances.
The caravan of mothers and family members of the disappeared marched through Mexico City on May 10 with posters, signs, banners, t-shirts, pins, etc. with images of their children and messages calling for justice as they chanted, “They were taken alive, we want them back alive!” The protesters asked Mexican citizens not to remain indifferent to the problem that has caused so much pain and left so many families destroyed. According to Guadalupe Aguilar, mother of missing José Luis Arana (34), the feeling is “the worst pain a woman can feel: not knowing where her child is.” As the march continued, protesters began to direct their chants toward individuals, like Humberto Moreira, the former governor of Coahuila, a state in which a high number of disappearances have been reported. “Moreira!” they shouted “Where is your mother?” According to Milenio, the United Forces for the Disappeared in Coahuila (Fuerzas Unidas por los Desaparecidos en Coahuila, Fuundec) have reported 250 cases of disappearances in that state since 2007.
In response to the Mother’s Day marches, the Party of the Democratic Revolution (Partido de la Revolución Democrática, PRD) proposed the creation of the Special Office for Disappeared Persons (Fiscalía Especial para Personas Desaparecidas), which would be housed under the Attorney General’s Office (Procuraduría General de la República, PGR). As Radio Fórmula reported, the PRD also called for increased governmental action to find the disappeared, “for the implementation of the Federal Program of Integrated Attention (Programa Federal de Atención Integral)” to those who have been disappeared, and “to announce the acceptance of the recommendations from the Working Group for Forced and Involuntary Disappearances with the United Nations.” Outside of the political party, other organizations, such as Amnesty International and the National Commission for Human Rights (CNDH) recognized and supported the work of the mothers to call attention to this matter.