August 30th is the International Day of the Disappeared. This day raises awareness of the fate of individuals whose whereabouts is unknown to their relatives and/or legal representatives in cases of involuntary disappereances because of armed conflict or authoritarian regimes. In preparation for this day, different human rights organizations and families of the disappeared are carrying out different events tomorrow throughout Mexico. Please support the families by sending a twitter to Mexico’s president asking him to #findthedisappeared@PresidenciaMX
If the twitter messages come from abroad, you will giving the families a lot of support.
The effects of the crisis on unemployment, wages and benefits have put Mexicans in a situation of economic insecurity. Disappearances complicate the economic circumstances of a victim’s family. The disappeared contributed with an important share of the household income through wages and social benefits such as health care and government housing assistance in the National Workers Housing Fund Institute (Instituto Nacional para el Fomento de la Vivienda de los Trabajadores or INFONAVIT). Families of the disappeared cannot receive any pension payments because the whereabouts of the victim is unknown, and therefore she or he cannot be declared dead. Also, the situation of uncertainty and worry for their loved ones has impacted families’ physical and emotional health. Health expenses therefore add to the costs of investigation and litigation in the absence of state authorities’ investigations in the context of economic and physical insecurity in the country.
If families want to retain social benefits and receive some form of pension, they have to apply for the presumption of death of the victim, which takes up to six year at least to complete. This impacts families emotionally because once the person is presumed dead, investigations end. Thus, families feel they betrayed their disappeared by having to choose access to basic services over looking for their missing relative.
Press release from FUNDEM May 2014.
On February 2013, the Ministry of the Interior (Gobernación) presented a list with 26,121 people disappeared. On May 2014, the National Commission of Human Rights indicated to the Senate that 24,800 people were disappeared. In the same month, the State Attorney’s Office said that only 13,195 cases remained in the list of disappearances. Latter, the Ministry of the Interior said to the Senate that only 8,000 cases of disappearances that occurred during the past presidential administration remained unsolved. In addition, authorities continue to be silent about the number of disappearances taking place under the current presidential administration of Enrique Peña Nieto (2012-2018). The Senate did not even raise questions regarding the conflicting numbers presented by different government agencies, failing to fulfill its function of check-and-balances in human rights issues.
Since 2011, FUNDEM has asked the federal government to create a National Registry of Disappeared Persons. Until today, the number of cases of disappearance remains unclear and the silence of state authorities regarding the methodology used to disclose such numbers adds to the already existing confusion. This raises the question: How many cases of disappearance is the government in fact investigating?
Fuerzas Unidas Por Nuestros Desaparecidos en México.
Families of the disappeared march from Torreon to Saltillo Coahuila to demand state authorities to follow adequate protocols in search operations (such as preserving evidence, avoid contamination of search locations, etc) (Photos by Itzel)