The state of Coahuila borders southwest
But the families of the disappeared do not forget. They travel the same route looking for their missing, calling on the authorities to investigate and asking among those who could have see them one last time.
A common denominator in these disappearances is the impunity that characterizes them as the authorities refuse to initiate preliminary investigations, abuse the families of the missing, and threaten them when they make their own inquiry and cause too much attention.
Many of the missing are itinerant workers and salesmen, offering handcrafted goods and other products for sale or on their way to the border to try their luck in the maquilas. A few are professionals, journalists or public security officers that avoided collusion with the underworld.
Most are poor and possess scarce resources, and no ransom is asked for their return. Some families cling to the hope that they are still alive and are being used as forced labor.
It is thought that both passed through
There are already many cases of collective, or group, disappearances. Of the 104 victims documented by Forces United for Our Missing and Disappeared in Coahuila (FUUNDEC), only 17 people went missing as individuals.
According to the Coahuila human rights activist Blanca Martinez, director of
The most recent case of a group disappearance is that of the seven men from Michoacan on
Blanca Martinez discusses the lack of results or movement in the Fiscalia General de Coahuila’s investigation (disappearances of this type are investigated by state and federal authorities in
"Their response has been very limited. The Fiscalia General has only now started moving due to pressure from FUUNDEC and the families of the missing. They are just now beginning to move the inquiry, to implement procedures that should have started from the first day of the complaint”
From the pressure of reports, marches and protests sponsored by FUUNDEC, Governor Humberto Moreira has promised to speed investigations, but the result is the same: nothing.
The cases are multiplying and according to data from FUUNDEC of the total of 104 missing, there are five women, one child and one teenager. The rest are men.
Foreigners at risk
Just to continue along Highway 57 can be reckless. There are no checkpoints, only municipal police patrols that in routine checks inquire about identities and destinations and waylay the unlucky traveler with a police extortion, or mordida.
Encounters with these gunmen can be deadly, as occurred with a group of Canadians and Americans on
The men were on their way to the Muzquiz, Coahuila, where they would try to buy a ranch to build a mountain bike park. It was later revealed by statements from friends and family of the group that they wanted to work together to combat violence in
About 50 kilometers from the border on Highway 57 they stopped at the regionally famous "Machacado Dona Herlinda" for lunch, entering as several men were leaving in those large, ostentatious pick-up trucks that are synonymous with narcos.
It was around
Klowak's vehicle overturned. The young executioner left with the convoy. A second person accompanying Klowak was mistaken for dead by the gangsters but was rescued by four other men claiming to be
On occasion a Federal Police patrol visits the area but they never see anything. Surveillance cameras at gas stations, businesses or toll road booths have never been used in the investigations of the missing. If any eyewitness ever mentions an important fact, it is done hidden in anonymity and never as official testimony in a state investigation.
"He was our livelihood, we do not have anyone to support us, " said the girl, who was last working a temporary job at a gas station.
According to Esteban’s wife, Lourdes Herrera, he was on his way to the airport in Apodaca, Nuevo Leon to drop of his brothers who were returning to their homes in
Months passed and the men were never handed to their families. Jorge Alberto says that there is a theory that the missing men are being held to work in factories run by organized crime packaging drugs. Some of the missing are said to have been taken to other states to work for organized criminal gangs, some have even been forced to work as sicarios.
“The fact is that most of the victims are workers and common laborers such as masons whose average age is between 28 and 29. They are people of working age.” Says Blanca Martinez.
"One of the hypotheses of these families is that they may be using them as forced labor, to do some work. It is a hypothesis that gives them hope. In all these cases there is no ransom request. Since there is no request for money or other equity they are not considered kidnappings, and there is no evidence that these abductions are due to the settling of scores or the like” adds
The human rights acivist says that besides the known kidnappings, dozens of Central American migrants have reported multiple disappearances to the Fray Juan de Larios center. "If the cases of missing Mexican nationals prove the difficulty of obtaining justice, with immigrants this is practically impossible."
Blanca Martinez concludes that the problem is not a lack of legislation but a refusal by authorities to investigate these cases, "That is the common denominator: that families do not get answers, and authorities recommend that they leave everything alone and not look for trouble. They are an obstacle to people who demand their rights to justice, and the cases prove official inaction as a policy of the state government.”
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