In their own blood, Mexican women demand help for victims of violence

by Reuters
Tuesday, 16 February 2021 03:07 GMT

Ana Maria Maldonado touches a pinback button with the photo of her son Carlos Palomares, who disappeared in Mexico City on September 22, 2010, during a demonstration from mothers and relatives of missing people against the lack of attention from authorities, outside the office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, in Mexico City, Mexico February 15, 2021. REUTERS/Toya Sarno Jordan

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Mexico has registered nearly 80,000 missing people, most of them victims of gang-related violence since the start of a 'war on drugs' in 2006

By Ana Isabel Martinez

MEXICO CITY, Feb 15 (Reuters) - Flora Marcelo wrote her appeal on a white wall outside the U.N. human rights office in Mexico City, using a finger dipped in her own blood: "Justice for the disappeared."

At least five women joined Monday's protest, some drawing their blood with the help of a catheter, to bring attention to the plight of children and other relatives who have gone missing or been killed amid the violence of Mexico's long drug war.

Marcelo, 36, has spent weeks camped outside government offices along with dozens of other women in a bid to highlight their cases. This protest was a "desperate" measure, she said.

"They don't listen to us, and I want justice for my daughter," Marcelo said as blood flowed from her arm through a slender plastic tube.

Mexico has registered nearly 80,000 missing people, most of them victims of gang-related violence since the start of a "war on drugs" in 2006. Officials say around half of those could be unidentified bodies in morgues that are under-funded and ill-equipped to deal with the avalanche of homicides.

Despite a new legal framework and the establishment of a national search commission, the number of missing keeps rising. Support groups of family members, mostly mothers, have formed to search in clandestine graves scattered across the country.

Marcelo's 13-year-old disappeared in October from their home in Guerrero, one of Mexico's most violent states. Several days later, her body was found, dismembered. Marcelo discerned it was her daughter from the clothes discovered nearby.

Montserrat Ramirez, also from Guerrero, said her husband disappeared in April.

For Ana Maria Maldonado, more than 10 years have passed since her son went missing in Mexico City. She now wears a pin bearing his photo and the words, "Have you seen... ?"

(Reporting by Ana Isabel Martinez, additional reporting by Lizbeth Diaz and Toya Sarno Jordan, Writing by Daina Beth Solomon Editing by Sonya Hepinstall)

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