Briefing note. First day of International Symposium on Enforced Disappearance in Mexico.

On June 5th, 2013, United Forces of Our Disappeared in Coahuila and Mexico (FUUNDEC/FUNDEM) organized a three day international event on Enforced Disappearances in Mexico in the city of Saltillo, capital of the state of Coahuila.  This is the first event of its kind in Mexico because it brings together the relatives of the disappeared, local and federal state authorities and national and international experts on the issue. The event began with the words of one of the members of FUUNDEC/FUNDEM, Lourdes Herrera.  She is the mother of Brandon Esteban, who is 8 year-old boy that was disappeared in August 2009. “I represent all families of the disappeared, …We hope that the outcome of these three days of work go beyond words to reach real commitments from all stakeholders in order to address our legitimate demands: the immediate search of our relatives and the right to justice and truth.” After her participation, all families claimed: “Our relatives were taken away from us alive, we want them back alive!”

Following the opening speech from Lourdes Herrera, Reinar Huhle, member of UN Committee against Enforced Disappearance mentioned in his keynote that enforced disappearances have become generalized phenomena.  It is not only found in military dictatorships but also in democracies such as Colombia and Mexico.  In the latter contexts, enforced disappearances become more complex given the involvement of both state and non-state actors.

The second keynote speaker was Roberto Garretón. He is an expert on enforced disappearance from Chile. He discussed how the state is always involved in any human rights violation. In the case of enforced disappearance, this includes not only the direct intervention of state actors but also their negligence and distortion of information. He focused on the Chilean experience. According to Garretón, the work of human rights defenders should be the search for the truth through interdisciplinary research and the recording of all cases of disappearance. He also mentioned how Mexico has not received any solidarity from Chile and Argentina in this human security crisis, even though Mexico opened its doors to refugees during military dictatorships and supported those Chileans and Argentineans who were fighting against enforced disappearances in their countries.Image

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