Parents of the young victims of a tragic daycare fire that killed 49 children 10 years ago have denounced the theft of eight pairs of bronzed children’s shoes installed on Mexico City’s Paseo de la Reforma as part of a memorial to the young victims.
On June 5, 2009, Guardería ABC in Hermosillo, Sonora, was engulfed in flames after the converted warehouse housing the daycare center caught fire following an explosion in a neighboring warehouse.
Reports after the blaze revealed a number of problems with the facility, including improperly installed fire alarms, windows that were too high for rescue efforts and only one fire exit.
More children might have died had passersby not intervened, including one desperate citizen who used his pickup truck to punch a hole in the wall.
The stolen shoes — bronze casts of 25 of the real shoes worn by the victims — formed part of an “anti-monument” installed June 5 in front of the offices of the social security institute (IMSS) to mark the 10-year anniversary of the tragedy.
The installation is intended to commemorate the victims and as a highly visible reminder of government inaction in punishing those who neglected to oversee the daycare building’s safety.
On the same day, the parents of the children who perished held a silent march along the Paseo de la Reforma to remember their children and demand justice. In interviews, parents insisted that they intended to install the remaining 24 bronze shoes, replicas of the last pairs of shoes worn by the children on the day they died.
Parents called the theft of the shoes an “insensitive act” that inflicted more pain upon the families of those lost in the tragedy than what the thief stands to gain; bronze is worth relatively little.
The parents also reproached the federal government. No arrests have been made, and despite Reforma’s status as one of the most highly-watched avenues in the Mexican capital, the theft was not captured on camera.
The day after the silent march, parents met with President López Obrador and human rights undersecretary Alejandro Encinas to reach an agreement regarding punishing those responsible for neglect and a guarantee of better future oversight.
On May 13, 2017, nearly seven years after the ABC daycare fire, a federal judge handed out sentences ranging from 20 to 29 years in prison to 19 people implicated in the blaze, including social security and Civil Protection officials, who were deemed to be criminally responsible.
However, for many of the parents whose children lost their lives, the sentences were not enough, and the wounds left by the tragedy are still raw. Julio César Márquez said the theft of the shoes has exacerbated that pain.
“I have not had any easy days since 10 years ago, but to finish today this way leaves a feeling of enormous emptiness and sadness.”
“They can continue trying to hurt us, but we will not stop shouting ‘Justice for ABC.’”