This is a blog dedicated to a personal interpretation of political news of the day. I attempt to be as knowledgeable as possible before commenting and committing my thoughts to a day's communication.

Tuesday, December 19, 2017

The Vanished

"There are an infinite number of people who are too scared to even say anything, whose cases we know nothing about."
"The entire state is a mass grave. It is the biggest mass grave in Mexico and perhaps one of the biggest in the world."
Jorge Winckler, attorney general, State of Veracruz

"The cruelest thing about a disappearance is that it leaves you with this desperate hope that your child might actually still be alive somewhere."
"You're trapped in this horrific limbo where you can't mourn or move on because that feels like betrayal, like you're killing off your own child."
Daniel Wilkinson, managing director, Human Rights Watch

"I'm not simply looking for the remains."
"I know you want to find body parts, but I have information that our kids were probably dissolved in acid or burned."
"I'm looking for buried clothing. And ashes."
Carlos Saldana, Xalapa, Mexico
mexico drug war grave
Investigators search for human remains in a mass grave in La Barca in western Jalisco state, November 21, 2013.  REUTERS/Alejandro Acosta

Though the Mexican government has acknowledged the disappearances of over 30,000 people, the fact is that there is no one who knows the absolute number who have disappeared. The remains of close to 300 bodies were unearthed from rough graves in Veracruz in the last year alone. The remains come in the guise of unidentified fragments leaving searchers and bereaved family members to imagine what happened to their loved ones over the last decade.

The bits of bone and other objects discovered in those graves have overwhelmed the state and Veracruz stated that it lacked the funding to conduct DNA tests on those remains that have been found, let alone others that will inevitably be unearthed, not by government agency necessarily, but by determined poses, groups of women focused on discovering the whereabouts of their dead relatives, for the state also announced it was halting all new searches for those clandestine graves.

They have run out of space to store the bodies.

Cartels across Mexico have acted with complete impunity, killing rivals, disposing of their remains in unmarked graves. In the war against corruption, violence, crime and drug cartels, the military and law enforcement personnel have often adopted the very same methodology, leaving families terrified and fearful of asking for government assistance when it is viewed as being likely complicit in the atrocities.
Mexico Ayotzinapa families disappeared
Relatives hold pictures of some of the 43 trainee teachers who disappeared in September 2014, during a demonstration to demand justice for their disappearance, in Chilpancingo, Guerrero, February 5, 2015.   Jorge Lopez/Reuters

No body, no case. Leaving bereaved families little option but to look to one another for support, linking themselves in collectives and launching meetings. Families have resigned themselves to the reality of government offering little assistance, that they are largely on their own. They must build coalitions, exact pressure, beg officials to cooperate while they cling to any shred of hope that they might, in the end, discover what had occurred to their missing relatives.

Among them are those who become detectives, who comb through areas criminals are known to have been seen, where others are known to have vanished, presumed murdered. they organize free DNA tests, raise funding to pay for their frenetic activities. They look for suspicious plots of land, on the lookout for signs of disturbed earth. In discovering such an area, long metal crosses are hammered two meters into the ground, then withdrawn and sniffed for the odour of decay in search of the dead.

Mr. Saldana, searching for his missing daughter, was informed of a ranch where cartel members were  believed to take their victims, to dissolve their bodies in acid. He felt convinced that on that ranch he would unearth evidence that would lead to the discovery of what had happened to his daughter. He had arranged for a convoy comprised of camouflage trucks with marines, police officers and officials and members of the families of the missing.

Among the officials driving in the convoy to the ranch were forensic scientists, police officers and investigators. On reaching the ranch, healthy horses, cattle and well-tended sheep were found roaming about, otherwise the ranch had been abandoned. They found a cinder-block chamber with a soiled mattress and chains; a grisly torture chamber where a stack of women's undergarments was also found. Looking at areas of disturbed earth, pieces of clothing were found.

Eventually no fewer than 500 items had been discovered, ranging from baby outfits to women's blouses, jeans and shoes. "I wonder if this clothing might be as close as we ever get to our children. That its very existence means we may never reach them." And if the stories of bodies being dissolved in acid are true, there is nothing to be found. Those they seek have well and truly 'vanished'.
"There are so many mass graves in Mexico, the country is starting to resemble a Swiss cheese."
"The number of graves that havn’t been found is infinitely larger than the number that has been discovered."
Jorge Reveles, veteran crime reporter
Mexico Veracruz mass grave killing victims bodies homicide soldier police
A policeman stands guard on a plot of land where skulls were found at unmarked graves on the outskirts of Veracruz, Mexico, March 16, 2017.   REUTERS/Carlos Jasso  

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