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More action is needed for Mexico's disappeared


It was in Latin America that this word first took on its new and cruel meaning. The "disappeared" have not vanished into thin air: many have been killed. Others will almost certainly never see their family again, held by criminal gangs or the authorities.

In Mexico's dirty war of the late 1960s and the 70s, the government carried out a systematic persecution, against members of left wing political movements and insurgent groups, but also against the general public, in order to instil terror.

Today disappearances are once again a terrible fact of life in Mexico. Many have occurred during anti-crime operations by both the military and the police.

Just last month over a six-day period, marines in the northern city of Nuevo Laredo, abducted four people in three different incidents; two were teenagers.

On 29 July, Jose de Jesus Martinez Chigo and 17-year-old Diana Laura Hernandez Acosta were stopped at a checkpoint. A witness saw them being driven to a military compound. When the families of both victims went to the compound, they were told that no civilians were detained there.

The next day marines took 17-year-old Raul David Alvarez Gutierrez away in a lorry. No one knows where he is.

On 3 August, eyewitnesses saw marines drag Armando del Bosque Villarreal from his car and drive him to the naval compound on the outskirts of town. When his father went there, a captain told him his son had been arrested and was being questioned. An hour later, the same officer denied that Armando had been arrested and refused to give any further information.

A growing problem. An ineffective response from the authorities.

The number of people who have disappeared -- whether abducted by criminal gangs or by public officials -- has grown substantially since December 2006 when the federal authorities launched a large-scale policing operation to combat organised crime. In February 2013, the new President, Enrique Pena Nieto, published a list of more than 26,000 people who had been reported missing since 2006. The government has failed to provide any further information on the whereabouts of these people.

"Impunity remains almost total and, in spite of repeated promises from the authorities, the search for the victims is still ineffective. The Mexican government does not seem to be really committed to end enforced disappearances," says Rupert Knox, Amnesty’s researcher on Mexico.

The time immediately after an abduction is crucial if victims are to be saved from vanishing indefinitely or being killed in custody. But justice officials routinely reject requests by victims’ families to open immediate investigations. In these latest cases, eyewitnesses have been afraid to testify for fear of reprisals, and the Attorney General’s office refuses to accept a complaint because the families cannot produce witnesses.

The suffering forced on the families of the "disappeared" is of a uniquely cruel kind. They wait to know, and often never know, whether their loved ones are alive or dead.

Tell the authorities they must do more - send a tweet to the President

President Pena Nieto is a regular user of Twitter. Please join our social action and ask him to order a swift and thorough investigation into the latest disappearances in Nuevo Laredo.

To send the President a tweet, just hit the button below.

Tweet #Mexico must launch urgent search for Jose, Diana, Raul & Armando, #disappeared by marines. Stop impunity, @EPN !function(d,s,id){var js,fjs=d.getElementsByTagName(s)[0],p=/^http:/.test(d.location)?'http':'https';if(!d.getElementById(id)){js=d.createElement(s);;js.src=p+'://';fjs.parentNode.insertBefore(js,fjs);}}(document, 'script', 'twitter-wjs');

Tweet .@EPN one month is too long. We demand an effective investigation into the 4 #disappeared from Nuevo Laredo #Mexico !function(d,s,id){var js,fjs=d.getElementsByTagName(s)[0],p=/^http:/.test(d.location)?'http':'https';if(!d.getElementById(id)){js=d.createElement(s);;js.src=p+'://';fjs.parentNode.insertBefore(js,fjs);}}(document, 'script', 'twitter-wjs');

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Our blogs are written by Amnesty International staff, volunteers and other interested individuals, to encourage debate around human rights issues. They do not necessarily represent the views of Amnesty International.
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