The other disappeared people of Mexico

Continuing scandal over kidnapping of 43 students last year draws attention to 25,000 people disappeared in Mexico since 2007

Photo by: AP
Photo by: AP

People holding an image of their missing relative, Iguala. After the public attention to the lost 43 students, other families came together. Their message was simple: there are many more missing. They called them “the other disappeared.”

The scandal over the kidnapping and disappearance of 43 students last year has brought Mexico's "disappearing people" problem to public and international attention, with many other families who lost family members starting to break their silence.

Before they kept silent out of fear of possible harm to their loved ones. "What if I report it and my daughter is nearby and they know I reported it, they hurt her or something?" said Rosa Segura Giral, a mother of a lost teenage daughter.

But a year after the loss of her daughter on July 1, 2013 43 students were kidnapped in the city of Iguala, bringing great international attention to the issue. After a government investigation reported that the bodies of the victims were incinerated, the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) released another report rejecting the government's findings.

The public attention on the disappearance of the 43 students has brought together Giral and many other families who lost their relatives. Many people have now given DNA samples and added the names of their lost family members to governmental list which consists of 25,000 names reported since 2007.

After the 43 students disappeared on September 26, 2014 in the city of Iguala, at least 292 people were added to the list of missing people from the city.

The families say there are several possible culprits who might be responsible for the kidnapping of their siblings, children or spouses. They could be drug cartels or police working in cooperation with them.

In some cases efforts to retrieve missing people meet with success. The BBC reported a girl named Karen left her home to go away with a man she met online, but due to her family going public the men abandoned her and another teenager at a bus terminal.

Although in this case telling the police worked, many families hesitate in doing so to protect their love ones from possible reprisals. They believe the police abets the gangs.

"You have three children and you say, 'You know what, right now it is one [missing], if you keep looking it's going to be all three,'" says Guadalupe Contreras, whose 28-year-old son Antonio disappeared in Iguala in 2012.

Some other families who filed reports complain of indifference by the authorities due to bribery.

Many reasons exist why people are kidnapped. Some are taken for money for ransoms, others are recruited into gangs, eye witnesses to crime, or forced into prostitution.  

Families are left trying to deal with their pain, hoping their family members will come back.

"One has to learn to survive,” Segura Giral says. “I hope that my daughter shows up. I always have had this impulse,"

"I feel like any day she is going to come back. I feel so much like she has been traveling," she says.

TRTWorld and agencies