Searching mothers are now going missing in Guanajuato

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Catalina Vargas, a 60-year-old woman who used to spend her days looking for her son is now missing.

She was last seen on July 17 in the city of León, in Guanajuato, a state in central Mexico that has become dangerous territory for those trying to find their missing relatives. In the last three years, two men and three women who were doing search work to locate their children have been murdered there. The most recent case is that of Teresa Magueyal, who was executed on May 2 in the city of Celaya while riding a bicycle in front of a school. The United Nations has demanded protection measures from the Mexican government for the victims who participate in the search efforts.


Vargas belonged to the United for the Disappeared of León collective. The members of the group spoke with her on Monday around 2:00 p.m. She was at her house. Now, these women who dig the earth to find clues and remains that can lead to their daughters, brothers, and husbands, are also looking for their partner. Rocío del Carmen Gómez, the spokesperson for the collective, stated that the authorities need to implement a “strategic and personalized” plan of action to find her alive.

This is not the first time that the attacks reach the search groups of Guanajuato. On May 2, two men on a motorcycle shot Teresa Magueyal at point-blank and fled. The searcher was left dead on the ground a few blocks from her house. Doña Tere — as she was known — had been looking for her 34-year-old son José Luis Apaseo Magueyal, who disappeared in the same town where she was murdered, since 2020.

On November 6, 2022, María del Carmen Vázquez was shot several times after opening the door of her home in Abasolo, Guanajuato. She was searching for her son Ósmar Zúñiga Vázquez, 21, who had disappeared five months earlier. In León, in October 2020, Rosario Zavala was killed in the same way. She had already been notified that she was being threatened. She was searching for Yatziri, her 16-year-old son. Her other son, Ulises, was also killed two years after his mother. Javier Barajas was killed in a public square in Salvatierra, Guanajuato. He had successfully found his sister, Lupita.

“It is shocking to receive the news of another searching mother murdered in Guanajuato,” says Jesús Peña Palacios, a representative in Mexico of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, regarding Teresa Magueyal. “Neither the disappearance of her son, nor the risks that she and her companions faced in their demand for an effective search, truth, and justice, nor her murder, had to happen. Families deserve protection and justice, not death or the misfortune of dying without knowing where their loved one is. These murders must be stopped.”

This also happens in other states. In August of last year, activist Rosario Rodríguez was kidnapped by an armed commando after a mass in honor of her son, who disappeared in 2019. She was found murdered a day later in the municipality of La Cruz de Elota, in the state of Sinaloa, in northern Mexico. Two weeks earlier, she had denounced the inaction of the authorities. In October, Blanca Esmeralda Gallardo — who had been searching for her daughter Betzabé for a year — died after being shot seven times on the highway between Mexico City and Puebla. Cecilia Flores, who is searching for her two children, has warned authorities repeatedly: “There is a price on my head.” She says: “My only sin has been loving my children.”

Source: El Pais

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