In January of 2020 Karla Quintana, the head of the National Registry of Missing Persons, revised the number of disappeared people to 61,637; a substantial increase of 52% compared to the last recorded numbers released in 2019. Veracruz has the second largest amount of these open disappeared person’s cases in Mexico, following Guerrero. The majority of the disappeared are from poor and impoverished areas which are particularly vulnerable to cartel invasions and the highest amount of cases correspond to ages 15 to 19.
In Veracruz 21 collectives of family members of disappeared persons with the support of IMDHD participated in a dialogue with the local congress which resulted in the General Law on the Disappearances of Persons for the state of Veracruz which was designed to better fund and improve search efforts for the thousands of people missing or forcibly disappeared. Until recently the disappearances were to a great extent ignored but as these collectives have become more organized it has become harder for authorities to do so. Collectives in Veracruz have exhumed 300 bodies so far through organized search activities, however, these efforts must be matched with government actions in order to identify bodies and therefore close these cases.
Currently IMDHD is working on a project in Veracruz to strengthen the management of these collectives by providing training on how to establish efficient cases, have plentiful knowledge on the General Disappearance and Local Law and apply techniques that can help in search and investigative efforts. Furthermore, training support will also be provided to authorities so that both groups can collectively assist in investigative actions of missing persons. In response to systematic disappearances that occurred under a government security operation in Coatzacoalcos during May and September of 2015, IMDHD also plans to develop a sufficient method of context analysis that can provide answers to the relationship between the disappearances and the implementation of this operation.
In Xalapa, IMDHD plans to build a training space to ensure that the women of these 21 collectives have an area to increase and develop their management and advocacy skills which can then be replicated in cases for their missing relatives. The School of Leadership, Participation and Democracy will hold a workshop between April and June 2020 where women will be invited to share their knowledge and experiences and develop their individual and collective power to influence organizations, communities and authorities. The school aims to achieve this by addressing the following issues:
- Develop individual leadership skills
- Strengthen knowledge about the legal framework of disappearance of people
- Present and appropriate good practices of self-care
- Build rights enforceability and social mobilization strategies
- Define the political role of women in the construction of working groups and democratic organizations
- Listen to the testimonies and good practices provided by women who through their leadership have contributed to social change.