Volunteers aiming for “disappearance” in Mexico are targeted


Mexico City (AP) — A government that is increasingly killing and helping them in search of the final piece of justice, primarily female volunteers who fan out across Mexico to search for the bodies of their murdered relatives. I tried the promise of. Chance to mourn.

People who continue to work are told that they have long been threatened and monitored, perhaps by the same people who killed their sons, brothers, and husbands.

But now the threat has been superseded by bullets in the heads of searchers, who have proven to be far superior to the authorities by hunting for thousands of secret burials and burning holes. Two searchers have been killed in the last two months.

Alanza Ramos spent more than a year looking for her husband, Brian Celaya Alvarado, after disappearing on December 6, 2020. That day he became one of the 87,855 “disappeared” people in Mexico. Most are believed to have been killed by drug cartels, and their bodies were abandoned or burned in shallow graves.

Since the height of the Mexican Drug War from 2006 to 2012, searchers have learned over the past decade that gangsters have used the same location over and over again, creating horrific killings.

It was one such field known as Ortiz in the northern border of Sonora, where Alanza Ramos helped with the search on July 15, the day she was killed.

“Several secret crematoriums have been discovered in Ejido Ortiz, but some are still smoking and burning when they are discovered,” Ramos’ search group said in a statement. “This Ejido is an active extermination site.”

They are so active that searchers say they are nervous that the burials they have done are too fresh. That means the murderer may still be around and using the site.

One day after the search, the volunteers thrust a metal rod into the soil and gave off the smell of death. Ramos has returned to his home near the city of Guaimas. Just before midnight she was kidnapped from her house. The murderer drove her a short distance and dumped her bullet-ridden body on the side of the road.

Cecilia Duarte, who worked for the search group “Buscadora sporla Paz” (searcher for peace) for three years, attended a meeting with Ramos the week before she was killed. Duarte, who has found the body of his missing son and is currently looking for his missing nephew, said Ramos always tried to play it safely.

“She tried to be unobtrusive, she wasn’t a spokeswoman,” Duarte said. Indeed, Ramos avoided caution. The Associated Press tried to contact her two months before she was killed, but she didn’t answer the message.

“Alanza posted a message a week before she died that she was looking for her husband instead of a suspect,” Duarte recalled.

There are three golden rules that the Mexican Volunteer Search Group follows.

— The corpse is not called a corpse or corpse. Searchers call them “treasures” because they are valuable to sad families.

— Investigators usually call law enforcement agencies when they think they have found a burial. This is mainly because authorities often refuse to perform slow but important DNA tests unless the bodies are professionally excavated.

— No search is done to find the perpetrator, only to find a loved one.

It is the latter rule that volunteers wanted to keep them safe from retaliation.

“As searchers, we’re not trying to find out who is guilty. We’re looking for treasure,” says Patricia, founder of Madres Buscadores de Sonora (Searching Mothers of Sonora). “Cecilia” Flores says.

For a long time, searchers and the police who often accompany them mean focusing on finding graves and identifying bodies, rather than collecting evidence of how they died and who killed them. Did. Search groups may get anonymous hints about where the bodies are buried. Knowledge is probably only available to the murderer or his accomplice.

However, the long-standing arrangement seems to have collapsed.

The day after Ramos was killed, Flores was threatened with a phone call. “I got the call saying,’You’ll be next,'” Flores said. Since then, police have assigned police cars to guard outside her home in Hermosiyo.

Sonora authorities have agreed to provide security to searchers who appear to be at risk. The state also agreed to assign an archaeological team to potential burial sites discovered by searchers within three to five days. However, authorities seem to be more interested in damage control. They asked the searchers to agree not to take pictures of the burial ground.

President Andrés Manuel Lopez Obrador made a vague and confident statement when asked about the murder of Ramos. “We will continue to protect all women. We condemn these crimes.”

But Ramos wasn’t the first. On May 30, volunteer search activist Javier Barajas Pinha was shot in Mexico’s most violent state of Guanajuato. A total of 68 human rights and environmental activists have been killed since Lopez Obrador took office.

Fear has always been associated with searchers. They go to wild, distant, abandoned places where terrible crimes have been committed. But until now, they almost shrugged it.

Ramos volunteer Cecilia Duarte remembered that time. But I always thought they weren’t going to warn you if they really were going to do something to you. “

On another search site, she said she felt the sensation she was once seen — and she found someone observing her group from a nearby hillside. Still, the searchers continued.

But Ramos’s murder changed the situation, she said. “It hit us hard. Some people stopped searching.”

Several cartels, including one run by Rafael Caro Quintello, were improperly released from prison while sentenced to the 1985 DEA agent murder, a valuable trafficking route to Sonora and its United States. I have fought for the management of. The Sinaloa Cartel is run through a local gang.

“The authorities should do more, that’s not enough,” said Flores of Madurez Buscadores de Sonora. Field search. “

The United Nations Human Rights Agency in Mexico pointed out the same. “If the government fails to meet its obligations (to conduct an investigation), it puts the disappeared family at risk.”