The story behind a film about a woman’s search for her kidnapped daughter, which was screened last week at the Cannes Film Festival, was almost replicated in real life on Thursday in Sonora.
A woman who had joined a search collective to hunt for her missing husband was kidnapped and murdered in Guaymas.
Gladys Aranza Ramos Gurrola, 28, was abducted from her home and shot dead. She had been searching for her husband, Brayan Omar Celaya Alvarado, since he went missing in December 2020. The couple had a 1-year-old child.
Ramos was a member of Madres Buscadoras, or Searching Mothers, a group of around 1,200 people that has taken up the search for the missing victims of drug cartels in the absence of official efforts. The collective discovered 19 clandestine graves in Guaymas in January, and has unearthed about 500 bodies in 300 graves. It has also returned about 300 people alive to their families since it formed in 2019.
The group said Ramos had been involved in a search on Thursday that turned up “several clandestine crematoria, some still with embers and smoke at the time of discovery.”
In her last post on social media, Ramos pleaded for information about her husband’s whereabouts. “Please, if you know where he is, let me know, I just want to be able to have a little peace. It’s been seven months and eight days without hearing from him, and I don’t think I can continue anymore,” she wrote.
The state Attorney General’s Office described Ramos as “always brave, active, enthusiastic and showing solidarity” in the group’s searches. It stated it would bring to justice the “cowards” responsible for the murder.
The search collective posted a tribute to Ramos on social media. “A great person whose only sin was to love her husband with all her soul, whom she has tirelessly searched for since he disappeared. Why kill her? What crime did she commit? She was not looking for the culprits or for justice; she was just looking for peace and to find a dignified place for the love of her life, the father of her daughter.”
“We are outraged and in pain that we who are searching are at risk of being killed,” it added.
The group’s leader, Ceci Patricia Flores Armenta, said threats against her from fake profiles on social media had risen since Ramos’ murder. The messages tell her to “take care” of herself.
“Now that Aranza has been killed, we are afraid … because she was also threatened … Unfortunately now we mourn her death,” she said.
The Cannes film about a mother searching for her missing daughter in Tamaulipas won a Courage award at the festival. She too was murdered.
La Civil tells the the true story of Míriam Rodríguez, who brought her daughter’s killers to justice and led a collective of families searching for their disappeared children before being killed herself on Mother’s Day 2017.