Five indigenous artisans killed in Guerrero last month were mourned in their home state of Veracruz last weekend after their bodies were identified Friday by family members.
In the last week of January, five Nahua men from the poverty-stricken Sierra of Acultzingo region traveled to Chilapa to sell the rustic furniture they make. But they never returned alive.
The last time their families heard from them was the night of January 25. After they were unable to make contact the next day, the men’s wives sought help from municipal authorities to locate them.
The mayor of Acultzingo subsequently contacted the Attorney General’s office in Guerrero and two days later he forwarded photographs of the five men to authorities in the southern state to assist them in their investigation.
Guerrero authorities later sent their own photographs to Veracruz of human remains they had found, which included dismembered limbs with huaraches, or sandals, still on their feet.
That detail seemed to confirm the worst fears of family members and they requested financial support from municipal authorities to travel to Guerrero to formally identify the bodies.
Family members met Friday with Guerrero Attorney General Xavier Olea Peláez, who informed them that the remains of seven bodies had been discovered in plastic bags on the outskirts of Chilapa on January 30.
Later the same day, relatives went to a government morgue in the state capital Chilpancingo where they identified their loved ones.
In a press conference, Olea said the men had been killed by a criminal gang known as Los Ardillos but the motive for killing the Veracruz furniture makers is unclear.
After identification, Guerrero authorities agreed to forgo DNA tests and allowed the remains to be returned to their home state.
All of the men left behind wives and young children who now face an uncertain future.
A representative from a local artisans’ association told the newspaper Milenio that they know that there are “bad people” in Guerrero but the necessity of feeding their families forces them to travel outside their home state to try to sell their wares.
“. . . They didn’t go there for a drive or to commit crimes . . .” Braulio Antonio Rosario said.