No more silence!

18 mayo, 2022

Families of the disappeared in Chihuahua are demanding permanent search personnel in areas with high rates of disappearance, the creation of a specialized unit to attend to the needs of the families, and access to the Monterde and Santo Domingo mines, where 15 bodies and more than 300 skeletal remains have been found. To increase pressure on authorities, Justicia para Nuestras Hijas will be carrying out acts of protest and remembrance on the 29th of every month.

Text and photos by Óscar Rosales, originally published by Raichali on April 30, 2022.

Translated by Dawn Marie Paley for Pie de Página in English.

CHIHUAHUA—With white kerchiefs on their necks, posters, photos, and carrying dozens of cardboard doves, around 30 family members of the disappeared in the city of Chihuahua met at the Cross of Nails, in front of the government buildings. 

Their slogan that day was “where is justice?” and they demanded authorities pay attention to them instead of staying silent in the face of thousands of cases of disappearance that are not being investigated.

Accompanied by the civil organization Justice for our Daughters and its founder, Norma Ledezma, the family members carried out a symbolic, silent march around Hidalgo Plaza.

“Justice is silent, because that’s how justice has been, and how the government has been, and how society has been: silent,” said Karen Olivas, a member of Justice for our Daughters.

According to the National Search Commission’s registry, 3,462 people have been disappeared in the state of Chihuahua. During the administration of governor Maru Campos, there have been a variety of mobilizations to pressure for searches for the victims and the injection of resources into the cause. Regardless, the work on the part of the State’s Attorney General’s office (FGE) has been sporadic.

María Gutiérrez, mother of Yeimy Paloma Flores Gutiérrez, who was disappeared on February 20th in the city of Chihuahua, said the AG has been promising to search for the last three months. Even though there was a change in the officer in charge of the investigation, she said she hasn’t received a call or a message.

“I wake up thinking about my daughter, I go to sleep thinking about my daughter, I go out to eat and I feel a knot in my throat. I don’t know if my daughter is eating, or if she’s thirsty,” said Gutiérrez into the microphone.

María also said she didn’t know what needed to happen to create the political will so that the search for disappeared people in Chihuahua can be carried out effectively.

She pointed to the attention that the case of Debhani has gotten in Monterrey, which she said should happen for all the cases.

“Our sons and daughters are humans, they need us, they have a home, a family, and they have children that ask after them every day, “said Gutiérrez. The only thing keeping her going, she says, is her daughter, and her grandchildren, Yeimy’s children.

María Gutiérrez, Yeimi Paloma’s mother.

Irasema Torres, mother of Yeni Karely Cruz Torres, who disappeared on August 29, 2016, also shared her testimony. She said that during the search for her daughter she met two other mothers, who became her friends: Jessica Corpus, mother of Alondra Nolasco, who was disappeared on September 18, 2017; and Nidia Muñoz, mother of Fátima Ivonne Juárez Muñoz, who disappeared on June 17, 2017.

“We started to fight together for this. Jessi, Alondra’s mother, was a very good friend and compañera, she’s no longer with us. Today I tell her I am here for Alonda, that she’s represented here. Here’s Fátima, and my daughter Yeni,” said Irasema, as she held a white cardboard dove and the photographs of Alondra, Yeni and Fátima.

Jessica Corpus passed away on October 14, 2021. She didn’t manage to see justice for Alondra.

“We are asking the authorities to see us; the governor, to have a little more empathy towards us… They have forgotten about us. They promise us meetings, that there will be a review of the investigation files, and it takes two or three months. We have nothing,” said Torres.

The families demanded their cases be assigned the resources and personnel they need from all the institutions that see to their cases, like the Disappeared Persons Unit, the Local Search Commission, the Investigation Services, the Attorney General Specialized in Women, the AG’s office, and the Executive Commission for Attention to Victims of state violence (CEAV).

They emphasized the need for the Local Search Commission to have members in every municipality, so that searches can be permanent and ongoing. They are also demanding that the AG’s office create a Unit for Holistic Attention to the families of serious crimes. 

They also demanded the creation of a work plan for searches to be carried out in the Monterde and Santo Domingo mines in the municipalities of Urique and Aquiles Serdán, respectively. 

“The corporations collude with organized crime, and they leave the dead in the mines,” said Ledezma. The activist noted that they have not been able to enter the Santo Domingo mine since September 30, 2021, because there is no strategy on the part of the Local Search Commission to do so.

Norma Ledezma, founder of Justice for our Daughters, speaks in front of the Cross of Nails in Chihuahua City

According to information from the State’s Attorney General, from October 2019 to October 2021, more than 15 bodies and 300 skeletal remains have been found in the Santo Domingo mine. They have been genetically tested due to the lack of personnel and resources, according to Ledezma. 

When they finished their protest at the Cross of Nails, two balloons were released into the sky. A black one, representing mourning, and white one, representing peace. Justice for our Daughters affirmed that they would continue to protest on the 29th of every month, and that they wouldn’t let their loved ones be forgotten.

This report was originally published by Raichali, which is part of the Media Alliance organized by Red de Periodistas de a Pie. You can read the original here.

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