Social Issues

The ongoing drama of the disappeared in Mexico: Visibility without results

Ines Amarelo

Mexico City, Aug. 30 (EFE) – The crisis of the disappeared in Mexico has gained national and international visibility. The relatives of the victims are increasingly seen by the world, but they argue that the main goal is to find their loved ones, a result that does not seem to be any closer.

On Wednesday, the International Day of the Victims of Enforced Disappearance, hundreds of search groups put aside their shovels and tools and take to the streets once again to demand that Mexico change course.

More than 111,000 people are considered missing or unaccounted for in the country, and according to search initiatives, there are 52,000 unidentified human remains in public facilities.

“There has been a great media presence on the issue, but unfortunately it is because of its increase throughout the country,” said Jorge Verástegui, an activist who is searching for his brother and uncle, Antonio Verástegui and Antonio Jesús Verástegui, who disappeared 14 years ago in Coahuila, in an interview with EFE.

However, he argued that the real results would be “to find the disappeared, but unfortunately we see that this is not happening.

He also stressed that the disappearances continue, aggravating a problem that is spiraling out of the control of the authorities.


María Luisa Aguilar, international coordinator of the Miguel Agustín Pro Juárez Human Rights Center, believes that the fact that families have to search for their disappeared relatives themselves is a very serious problem that adds to the dangers they face.

The victims are also confronted with the lack of coordination between the different bodies responsible for the issue, a problem that President Andrés Manuel López Obrador had promised to resolve.

Both Verástegui and Aguilar agree that ending the scourge of disappearances is not a priority for the current government, as it wasn’t for the previous ones.

Verástegui believes that society is polarized, which affects social causes like disappearances, which are left out of the public discussion.

“The great problem of the lack of coordination between institutions has been the central issue in this matter from day one, and it is not a minor one,” Aguilar noted.


In November 2017, as a result of the work of search groups and civil organizations, the General Law on Forced Disappearances of Persons, Disappearances Committed by Private Persons and the National System for the Search for Persons was published to establish public responsibilities and institutional coordination.

The law was intended to help alleviate an overburdened system that could not achieve an effective search process, justice, or prevention.

But Verástegui and other relatives say that with one year left in López Obrador’s presidency, the opportunity offered by this law to develop a national tracing system has been lost.

The former head of the National Search Commission (CNB), Karla Quintana, who resigned seven days ago, misunderstood the functions of the organization that the relatives expected to operate as a search entity, Verástegui said.

“She set herself up as a quasi-ministry and completely distorted what we expected from the commission, that saw itself as a mere coordinating body” he explained.

Likewise, López Obrador announced a new census of missing persons, the purpose of which the families do not understand because it lacks methodology and is an unnecessary waste of money and effort, the families assured.

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