Amid charges of inaction by government, citizens groups have formed in various parts of Mexico for several years to search for missing loved ones, whose numbers soared after the war on drugs was declared in 2006.
Now another such group has formed, this time in response to disappearances in the state of Veracruz, bringing together individuals and organizations with experience in finding human remains in the field.
The National Search Brigade for Disappeared People is made up of searchers from Guerrero, Coahuila, Sinaloa, Chihuahua and Baja California who decided to “heed the call of the families of Veracruz.”
The brigade claims to have developed the best skills in the country for locating human remains. And they have been able “to bring some peace to many families by returning them their loved ones.”
The group’s first mission began yesterday after it traveled to the Veracruz municipality of Amatlán de los Reyes where executions have been reported in the community of La Pochota, along with the existence of a hidden cemetery.
Members of the brigade are being accompanied by some 50 family members of people who have disappeared. They accuse Veracruz state prosecutor Luis Ángel Bravo Contreras of being useless, citing many investigations into forced disappearances that have produced no results.
The brigade will remain in Amatlán “as long as necessary. The priest has sheltered us and offered us his support, along with the state’s three bishops,” said a spokesman.
“Our tools are pain, anger, impunity . . . we are going to unearth the horror the country has been living in. For us, Mexico is a mass grave.”
The brigade says “an alarming number of disappearances have been reported [in Veracruz], along with extrajudicial executions. Impunity prevails in virtually all cases.”
The searchers will be joined in the state by several civil society organizations, a documentation team, media representatives and sympathetic citizens, along with a professional human remains identification team from the Autonomous University of the State of Morelos and a group of researchers from the National Institute of Anthropology and History (INAH).
The brigade will also aid and collaborate with the Relatives of Disappeared Córdoba-Orizaba Collective, a group that has been working in the area for the last three years.
Representatives of the collective have claimed that state authorities have not collaborated with them and that the state Attorney General has “criminalized” them and dismissed their claims of finding mass graves.