Taking a cue from Argentina’s Mothers of Plaza de Mayo, relatives of disappeared persons staged a loud demonstration in Tijuana on Sept. 25. Banging pots and pans, protesters gathered outside the Baja California state government building to demand answers about the whereabouts of 320 people forcibly disappeared or kidnapped. In an action that attracted public attention, relatives of the disappeared plastered pictures of their loved ones on the exterior of the government offices.
Fernando Ocegueda Flores, secretary of the Tijuana-based Citizens Association against Impunity, said protesters were fed-up with government failure to find or provide answers about missing relatives. Ocegueda charged that members of his group were even told by state law enforcement officials to forget about their sons, brothers, fathers, and other loved ones. The earlier discovery of mass graves containing the remains of victims dissolved in acid has not served to clear up the mystery of the disappeared, Ocegueda said.
On the same day of the Tijuana demonstration, local police and fire personnel investigated two barrels that were found on a city lot and suspected of holding human remains. Officials did not immediately confirm whether dissolved bodies were in the barrels.
Inspired by Argentina’s mothers, Tijuana families plan to stage pot-banging protests every Friday unless authorities seriously comply with previous commitments to search for missing persons snatched by narco-style armed commandos or kidnapped for ransom, Ocegueda said. The relatives’ group also might put up a banner to warn visitors about kidnapping in Tijuana, Ocegueda added.
The Tijuana human rights activist said the new protest movement was being organized around the theme of “The Disappeared of the Bicentennial,” in reference to the upcoming 200th anniversary of Mexico’s war of independence against Spain. According to Ocegueda, at least four new cases of disappeared people are being added to the lengthy Tijuana roster each month.
Julieta Martinez for Frontera NorteSur, Sept. 26