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News > Mexico

Mexico: The Pandemic Undermines the Search for the Disappeared

  • Relatives of missing persons protest in Mexico City, Mexico, June 4, 2020.

    Relatives of missing persons protest in Mexico City, Mexico, June 4, 2020. | Photo: EFE

Published 13 June 2020

The quarantine prevents human rights defenders from carrying out their work as quickly as they want.

The relatives of 61,367 missing people are now facing new obstacles to find their loved ones as the COVID-19 pandemic has slowed down the field search operations in Mexico.


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"Our rhythm changed completely and drastically due to the pandemic," said Leticia Hidalgo, an activist with the United Forces for Our Disappeared, an organization that operates in Monterrey city, in the state of Nuevo Leon.

During the weekends, families carried out operations to search for missing persons. Given the high levels of violence related to drug trafficking, the police used to escort these search operations but they no longer do so due to quarantine.

"At eight in the morning, we would get on a truck and go out into the field with rods, shovels, GPS, and drones," Hidalgo said and recalled that his 18-year-old disappeared in the hands of the police in 2011.

"Five years without a trace of 43 students who are missing in Mexico. Where are the 43 young people from Ayotzinapa? Justice!"

Beyond the pandemic's consequences, the missing persons' relatives are concerned about what may happen to the budget of the Executive Commission for Attention to Victims (CEAV) after President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador (AMLO) published an austerity decree.

Although budget cuts will not affect human rights institutions, the CEAV issued a statement last week in which it warned that the austerity measures "will paralyze their operation."

"The statement mortified and distressed us a lot... because they cannot dismantle an institution that cost us so much to exist. We have nothing else," Hidalgo said.

The AMLO administration, however, has reiterated that it will continue to support the institutions involved in the search for the Mexican disappeared.

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