Countless Mexicans are searching for a missing family member. Dora Alicia de la Garza is looking for 11.
Her husband, two sons, three daughters-in-law and five grandchildren aged 11 to 16 were abducted from her home in Piedras Negras, Coahuila, nine years ago.
“I’m the wife, mother, mother-in-law and grandmother who’s looking for them,” de la Garza told the newspaper El Universal.
“And I cry for them all the time. My whole family was taken and so far I don’t know what happened to them.”
According to an El Universal report published Friday, witnesses say the 11 family members were taken from their home and forced into either black or white pickup trucks in the early hours of the morning.
While there’s an inconsistency there, testimonies are in agreement on some other details of the crime: the women tried to escape but were subdued by their kidnappers and the children’s faces were covered before they were forced into the vehicles.
De la Garza, who was spared by the attackers, said: “They were chasing my daughter-in-law through the house. The youngest girl was going to turn 11 that day and she was shouting [at them] to let her mom go. The ringleader … shouted [to his accomplices] to take everyone. One of my daughters-in-law gave birth 15 days earlier and they left the baby.”
“They were beating the 13-year-old boy and blood was coming out of his mouth because he put up a fight. … Knowing all this traumatized me. … If they did this when there were witnesses, what wouldn’t they do when no one was watching?” she said.
After the mass abduction, de la Garza and other members of her family who were not directly affected fled the family home out of fear. Nine years later, no one has been arrested and none of the victims have been located.
As governments came and went in Coahuila, de la Garza had to provide prosecutors with details about the abduction over and over again. She said the repeated interviews with authorities affected her health, explaining that she now has post-traumatic stress disorder, depression, anxiety, high blood pressure and diabetes.
“Every time I go [to the Attorney General’s Office] they ask me what I know about my family” but the authorities don’t look for them, de la Garza said.
“… Every time I go I become unwell or worse because I’m already stressed. … Every time that I think … we’re making progress, the Attorney General’s Office changes,” due to a change in government, she said.
Many other people in Mexico are in a similar situation, although few, if any, are looking for – and seeking justice for – such a large number of family members.
There are more than 94,000 missing persons in Mexico, most of whom disappeared during the past 15 years.
With reports from El Universal