They are found in secret graves scattered across the desert, mixed in communal pits or hacked to bits and scattered on desiccated hillsides. Often, all that is left after their bodies have been removed is the body of an individual: a sweatshirt, frilly top, or worn dress.
Mexico is home to many mothers who wander in the scorching heat, looking for their sons or daughters.
Most people don't know the answer.
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The search was documented by a New York Times photographer.
She said that if I knew he was dead, I would know he wasn't suffering. We don't know and it is like torture to not know.
Mexico is close to a terrible milestone: 100,000 people have disappeared, according to Mexico's National Search Commission. This records goes back to 1964.
Death can seem pervasive in a country that is ravaged by a drug war with no end. The murder rate has risen inexorably to 30,000 per year. As newscasts air, macabre images show bodies being thrown onto the roadsides or strung up on bridges. Torture methods are often called nicknames.
However, disappearance can be the most devastating of all. It leaves families without a body to grieve, or even the comfort of death.
The missing haunt Mexicos collective memory, a crushing testament to the inability of government after government to staunch the bloodshed and bring criminals to justice.Disappearance is perhaps the most extreme form of suffering for the relatives of victims, said Anglica Durn-Martnez, a professor of political science at the University of Massachusetts, Lowell, and an expert on violence in Latin America.The faces of the disappeared loom, larger than life, on banners and posters in public squares across Mexico, over messages from relatives pleading for any information about their fate.But even when remains are found, the task of identifying the dead can be arduous, at times taking investigators months of digging through the brush and combing through dirt for tiny fragments of bone, many of which can be too small or worn to help identify the body.
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Durn-Martnez says that the crisis of the missing in Mexico is not only due to organized crime but also because of the tendency for state security forces in Mexico to engage in violence.
One of the most well-known examples is the disappearance in 2014 of 43 students at a rural teachers college located in Ayotzinapa. Enrique Pea Nieto was the president at the time and an investigation found that the local drug cartel as well as the municipal police were to blame. International experts including the United Nations have widely condemned this explanation, finding that the entire process was marred by tortures and cover-ups.
Although the students are believed to have died, no one knows where they are or who killed them.
Andrs Manuel Lopez Obrador is the current president. Authorities have attempted to make amends and help families find answers. Lpez Obrador supports the National Search Commission in his efforts to find the missing.
Karla Quintana Oluna, a Harvard-trained attorney who has previously worked at Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, is leading the effort. In 2019, approximately 40,000 people were reported missing when she joined the search commission.
Quintana was able compile records from all the state prosecutors in the country and found that the total was much higher than it was. It is now more then twice. Quintana said that although there are some state prosecutors who don't report all of their figures, the total is much more accurate than it was in years past and is also online.
However, it is still a difficult task to locate the missing. Quintana described the challenge as monumental and daunting, describing how Quintana tried to find answers in a country that only a small percentage of crimes are solved. It is clear that justice will not be provided as long as there are no criminal cases.
Csar Peniche Espijel, Chihuahua's attorney general, said that state-level forensic technology has helped locate the bodies. He also mentioned the use of drones and other search tools like drones. However, until organized crime groups can be eradicated, such efforts will continue to add thousands to the bloody tide.
According to the most recent data, 6453 additional people were reported missing or missing between September 2020-the end of July.
Peniche stated that disappearances are still being reported every day in the United States. This is what the federal government has not been able to address.
Mothers like Padilla in Mexico have to search and wonder what has happened to their children. Sometimes I believe he might still be alive, sometimes I believe he is not. There is still hope.
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