Eighth annual National Dignity March is for 40,000 moms of missing children
by Mexico News Daily
It’s Mother’s Day in Mexico but 40,000 moms whose sons and daughters are missing have nothing to celebrate.
Thousands of mothers of the missing will march in at least 23 cities today to draw attention to their ongoing struggle to locate their children in a country where rates of violence remain stubbornly high, thousands of unidentified bodies lie in morgues and hidden graves are regularly discovered.
It will be the eighth consecutive year that mothers and other family members of missing persons take to the streets to demand that authorities increase their efforts to find their loved ones.
In Mexico City, the National Dignity March will begin at the Monument to the Mother and conclude at the Angel of Independence, located on the capital’s emblematic Paseo de la Reforma boulevard. Simultaneous marches are planned for 22 other Mexican cities.
Among the participants in the Mexico City march will be members of a collective from Coahuila known as United Forces for our Missing.
“. . . We have nothing to celebrate,” said spokesperson María Elena Salazar.
“Even though we have other children, one of them isn’t with us. While we don’t know what happened, we can’t let this date go by unnoticed.”
Salazar called on the federal government to treat all missing persons cases equally and not just focus on “emblematic cases,” such as the disappearance of 43 teaching students in Guerrero in 2014.
“We have a new government and we continue to demand that it help us and listen to us. It shouldn’t seek [to solve only] emblematic cases . . . we all have the same necessity,” she said.
In Veracruz, where crimes including homicides and kidnappings have spiked recently and a secret cemetery was discovered last month, Lucía Díaz, founder of the Solecito Collective, said that mothers of the missing will march today in the port city of Veracruz.
During a previous march, the collective received a macabre gift: a sketch of the location of a mass clandestine grave at Colinas de Santa Fe, a neighborhood on the outskirts of Veracruz city. The remains of 300 people were exhumed from the site.
In contrast to Salazar, Díaz argued that the federal government has shown interest in solving Mexico’s thousands of missing persons cases, pointing out that it allocated 407 million pesos (US $21.3 million) to the National Search Commission.
However, Díaz said that the state’s top prosecutor is not offering the same support to the hundreds of collectives in the state that are made up of family members of the disappeared.
“The attorney general [Jorge Winckler] doesn’t make the slightest effort to hide his repudiation toward us,” she said.
Announcing the federal government’s search commission funding in February, human rights undersecretary Alejandro Encinas described Mexico as an “enormous hidden grave.”
“It’s estimated that there are currently 40,000 disappeared persons, more than 1,100 clandestine graves and around 26,000 unidentified bodies in morgues . . . that gives an account of the magnitude of the humanitarian crisis and the violation of human rights that we are confronting,” he said.
Source: Milenio (sp)
In other Mexico news:
National Guard short on personnel: neither police nor navy have provided any
Secondary laws and other issues remain outstanding. Until then, only army soldiers are on patrol
Neither the navy nor the Federal Police has yet provided any personnel to the National Guard, leaving the first units of the new security force to be made up entirely of soldiers.
The secretariats of the Navy (Semar) and Security and Citizens Protection (SSPC), which has responsibility for the Federal Police, said they can’t transfer personnel to the force because a secondary law establishing the regulatory framework for the National Guard is not yet in place.
The secretariats also said they cannot begin the recruitment process for the security force because of a lack of legal clarity regarding a range of aspects related to the formation of the Guard, including entry requirements, evaluation and training.
That information, which came in response to a request by news website Animal Político, contradicts statements made by President López Obrador this week.
Yesterday he said that members of the navy police had already joined the National Guard and earlier this week he declared that the recruitment process was under way.
The first unit of the force started operations in Minatitlán, Veracruz, last month and further contingents have been deployed to Salina Cruz, Oaxaca; Tijuana, Baja California; and Cancún, Quintana Roo.
López Obrador has said that the initial deployments are legal even without secondary laws in place as the constitutional reform that enabled the creation of the National Guard allowed them.
However, the president’s office refused to provide Animal Político with copies of “general agreements” that showed that to be the case, stating that “it’s not a matter within its jurisdiction” and that it has no obligation to provide information to support statements made by López Obrador.
The National Guard was declared constitutional in March after both houses of federal Congress and all 32 states approved the security force.
Members of a special naval police force based in the most dangerous municipalities of Veracruz were López Obrador’s choice to be the first recruits.
But while Semar said it plans to transfer 6,288 naval police to the force it has not specified when that will occur.
Senate committees will begin discussion and analysis of a National Guard Law next week and according to the constitutional reform which was published in the government’s official gazette on March 26, legislation governing the security force must be drawn up by May 25.
Senators have said the law will set out the complete architecture for the Guard’s operation, including how it will be organized and how it will collaborate with other entities as well as the requirements for recruitment that Semar and the SSPC are currently awaiting.
Luis Rodríguez Bucio, an army general with extensive experience fighting and studying Mexico’s notorious drug cartels, has already been named commander.
The federal government has expressed confidence that the broader deployment of the force will be effective in combating the record levels of violent crime that are currently plaguing the country.
(Source: Animal Político (sp).