Mother’s Day in Mexico is considered one of the most important family holidays of the year. It’s a day when children are allowed to skip school, families organize big parties, hire mariachi bands serenade, and retailers make a hefty profit. It’s a day to celebrate and honor the role of the mother in a society that on a whole is heavily influenced by the formation of the nuclear family.
However, for many mothers throughout the country, the past several years of Mother’s Day have been “celebrated” with loss, grief, and a dignified rage that has manifested into a tradition of street protests. They are the mothers of victims of forced disappearances.
During the six years of Felipe Calderón’s administration (2006-2012), an estimated 27,000 people disappeared and 102,000 murdered amid spiking levels of violence and insecurity prompted by the government’s declaration of and militarization of its “war on drugs”.
It was during that period that a citizens movement was born, called the Movement for Peace with Justice and Dignity, made up of families and loved ones of the murdered or disappeared. Their goal has not just been to call for an end to the violence, but rather to demand systemic changes to the root causes of the violence; poverty, social inequalities, state corruption, the global drug trade, the flow of weapons, and the list goes on.
The most prominent voices and faces of this movement have been the mother’s of the murdered and disappeared.
Although the new administration of Enrique Peña Nieto, which came into office in December, declared that it was to take a new approach to the issue of violence and insecurity in Mexico, little evidence has been shown that any shift in strategy has occurred. In fact initial statistics show that the rate of violence is higher in the current administration than what it was at the beginning of the Calderon administration.
Thus, for a second year in a row, mothers and family of the disappeared have marched on Mexico City to express their grief and demand that the administration of Peña Nieto take concrete steps in investigating their cases and finding their children.
More than 300 mothers and relatives of the disappeared participated in the “Second March of National Dignity. Mothers Searching for their Sons, Daughters and Justice”
“Where are they?”
“Help us find them!”
Although a majority of the march participants were the mothers of those disappeared, many other family members participated as well.
María del Refugio Cano’s son, Mario Alberto Morales Cano, disappeared on July 16, 2010 in Torreón, Coahuila.
“They were taken alive, we want them back alive!”
María Herrera Magdaleno from Pacajuarán, Michoacán is searching for her four sons: Raúl Trujillo Herrera, Salvador Trujillo Herrera, Gustavo Trujillo Herrera, and Luis Armando Trujillo Herrera. Pacajuarán has more than 40 disappeared.
José Antonio Ángeles Flores, Manuel Adrián González Mancera, and José Luis Vallejo Rodríguez all disappeared together on February 23, 2012 in Piedras Negras, Coahuila. All three were deaf street vendors.
A group of 10 mothers and their families began an indefinite hunger strike outside the offices of the Attorney General. They vow to remain until their disappeared family members are found.
Raúl Vera, a prominent human rights defender and bishop from Saltillo, Mexico marched in solidarity with the mothers. He spoke out against the high impunity rate and the official indifference by authorities. “Do not believe them,” he says, “until we see a committed process of justice, until we recover the missing and until the perpetrators are brought to justice.” He ended with: “the federal government is negotiating with politicians who have ties to organized crime.”
Maria Teresa Perez’s son, Jesus Horta Perez, went missing on May 17, 2009 in the Valle de Chalco, Mexico State.