The weekend of the 21st of September, we provided a workshop to family members of disappeared people in Orizaba - a small ´magical´ town in the State of Veracruz.
Lately, the town has received a great deal of negative attention as a consequence of a series of violent acts taking place in the region. That does however not mean that violence is new to this region. The State of Veracruz has been plagued by violence ever since Mexico´s so-called War on Drugs started.
Veracruz, with its 400 miles of coastline on the Gulf of Mexico, is one of the country's most important areas for importing and exporting goods but the state is beset by tension and a bloody war between cartels.
As a result, thousands of inhabitants have faced serious human rights abuses such as: femicides, homicides, extra-judicial killings, torture and (enforced) disappearance. We accompany around 300 family members of disappeared persons, members of collectives of family members of the disappeared.
We organized this workshop in Orizaba for the collective Families of the Disappeared Orizaba-Córdoba. During the workshop, we addressed the following issues:
1. The Federal Law regarding Special Declaration of Absence for Missing Persons
The purpose of the Law is to acknowledge, protect and guarantee the legal capacity and rights of the Disappeared Person; in addition to granting appropriate measures to ensure the protection of family members through a federal procedure for the issuance of the Special Declaration on the Absence of Disappeared Persons.
2. Incorporation of a gender perspective in the search for the disappeared
To fight violence against women, Mexico adopted gender violence alerts. We explained how crucial the successful implementation of these alerts is. Additionally we talked about the importance of a new gender alert: an alert specifically designed to address the high number of disappeared women and girls in Veracruz. Moreover, we talked about institutional, gender-based discrimination and violence that women looking for their disappeared relatives face. We provided tips on how to respond to gender-related injustice. Notably, 90% of family member looking for their disappeared loved-ones is female.
3. Economic and social rights of family members of disappeared persons (the indirect victims of disappearance).
Economic and social rights are frequently violated for the victims and for the relatives of disappeared persons. However, in Mexico, this situation is not generally visible, despite the fact that it produces conditions of poverty or extreme poverty for these families or aggravates existing conditions. And, poverty and extreme poverty are considered both a cause and a consequence of enforced disappearances or disappearances committed by individuals. The IMDHD is conducting a study in the state of Veracruz in order to reflect how the economic and social rights of the disappeared persons and their families are affected by the phenomenon of disappearances. 50 questionnaires and three in-depth interviews were conducted.
We encountered the importance of addressing issues that strongly affect the lives of the indirect victims of disappearance. When we asked the participants at the end of the workshop to write down thoughts regarding the workshop, we received good and hopeful feedback. Feedback that made us realize integrating an intersectionalist gender perspective is of vital importance when working with victims of human rights violations.
“I felt at ease, accompanied and understood. And more importantly, I felt proud to know that there are women in organizations dedicated to the care of women”. Member of the collective Familias de Desaparecidos Orizaba-Córdoba