“What are you doing for Mother’s Day?” “I am looking for my children”

Guadalupe Caramarena, 61, already knows what she is going to do for Mother’s Day, which falls on Tuesday in Mexico: “find my children”.

“It’s five empty chairs. Here there is nothing to celebrate”, adds this housekeeper from San Pedro de Tlaquepaque in the state of Jalisco, the most affected by the drama of enforced disappearances in Mexico.


In a voice posed to contain her tears, this mother of nine children recounts her ordeal. Her son Lucero disappeared in 2016 after going to a job interview. His four brothers disappeared in 2019.

On their way, they were stopped by the municipal police. Although two officers are charged with enforced disappearance, no search operation has been launched.

Thousands of Mexicans will present bouquets of flowers to their mothers this Tuesday. Thousands of women will also be in the streets to demonstrate and to continue the search for their missing children.

The state of Jalisco alone records 14,498 of the 95,121 people missing in Mexico, according to official figures released last November, during a visit by a United Nations delegation.

More than a hundred people would have disappeared “during our stay”, noted one of the members of the Committee, who stayed ten days in Mexico.

In its conclusions, the UN committee against enforced disappearances spoke of a “human tragedy” against a background of “absolute impunity” of the kidnappers, members of organized crime or the security forces.

The mothers-of-courage continue their search in States victims of narco-violence like Jalisco.

Araceli Hernández, 50, walks the streets of Guadalajara to put up posters of her children. “It’s my job. I love them”.


Vanessa was abducted in 2017. Two days later, Alejandro disappeared while looking for his sister.

Rosaura Magaña, 61, lost track of her son Carlos Eduardo five years ago.

“I never thought I would have this life project: to go from retirement to looking for my children,” says this woman, who denounces the inaction of the authorities.


Azulema Estrada, 49, trained in law and search techniques to find Iván Alfredo, who was kidnapped by armed men with his companion in 2020, at age 30.

With no hope of finding him alive, she thinks he would be buried in the state of Sonora. But the excavations are dangerous: the “hawks” – lookouts for criminals – watch the scene.

The government lists 37,000 unidentified bodies in forensic services, but civil society organizations count as many as 52,000. These figures add to the 340,000 people killed in acts of violence linked to organized crime since 2006.

The Congress has just approved at the end of April the creation of a “National Center for Human Identification”, to ensure the follow-up of the search for the disappeared or the identification of their remains.

The first disappearances in Mexico date back to the 1960s and 1980s. But cases soared after the war on drugs was militarized 16 years ago.

“Organized crime remains one of the main causes of disappearances,” notes Laura Atuesta of the Center for Economic Investigation and Expertise (Cide), referring to drug trafficking, migrants or fraudulently taken fuel (“Huachicol”).

The authorities also refer to “the corruption of the police forces linked to organized crime”, as recalled in mid-November the Under-Secretary of State for Human Rights, Alejando Encinas.


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