by SanJuana Martinez/SINEMBARGO.MX
“Remembrance, like a candle, burns brightest at Christmastime” is a popular Charles Dickens quote we often see on holiday greeting cards. For the relatives of the up to 30,000 disappeared in Mexico’s drug war, these words are especially painful.
This pain was also felt by the relatives of the up to 60,000 dead; victims of executions, massacres, mutilations and shootings.
Don’t forget the pain felt by the approximately 20,000 orphans who miss their parents these holidays, and by the quarter million displaced persons whose life before this drug war is only a memory.
We who support this segment of the population, who embrace them through our work and have dedicated ourselves to their cause, raising our voices at their side, we have made their pain our pain. They, like the dead and disappeared, are also victims of this drug war.
The victims of the drug war have been, are and will continue to be seen as insignificant by this Administration. Their tragedies are of no interest to our politicians or the State. The judicial system lacks the mechanisms to protect these victims, to provide justice or compensation for their loss.
The victims of the drug war are also invisible. They are not counted in statistics; their names do not appear in any government document. In fact, the government does its best to sweep them under a rug.
The victims of the drug war were and are literally underground, tossed into common graves; killed with sledge hammers in San Fernando, Tamaulipas; by a ‘coup de grace’ in Durango; with a single shot to the head in Sinaloa; mutilated in Acapulco; dissolved in acid in Guerrero; incinerated in an extermination camp in Cienega de Flores and Doctor Gonzalez, Nuevo Leon.
The victims of the drug war writhe in pain in clandestine detention centers run by the Army and Marines where the torture ‘de jour’ is administered slowly; they scream and cry as they are broken into pieces by ‘tablazos’ (beatings with wooden boards), by burning, by electric shocks to the genitals, raping with baseball bats, mutilations….
The victims of the drug war work as slaves in camps run by the drug cartels. They were abducted on the highways, leaving work, on the streets, in their places of business and their homes; and they know that sooner or later they will be executed and buried in the middle of the desert in an unmarked grave, with no name, no flowers.
The victims of the drug war are also thousands upon thousands of women and girls, kidnapped and forced into prostitution. They are enslaved by the ‘narcos’, the kingpins and drug dealers, who see their bodies as gold mines to exploit.
The victims of the drug wars are also the unseen ‘femicidas’ (female serial murders); the thousands of mutilated, decapitated, dismembered women whose fate was the result of the absolute contempt for their gender.
The victims of the drug war are children, so young they don’t even matter. Their executions don’t fit into any official statistics. NGO’s calculate their deaths at 1,500 but the State insists in hiding them.
The victims of the drug war are the wounded in hospitals where their limbs are amputated and their wounds are sutured. Sometimes they survive, sometimes they don’t. The hospitals are swamped with not enough doctors, insufficient medications and equipment. These conditions are also covered up.
The victims of the drug war have a tag affixed to their toe. They are the unidentified that wait three months in a morgue to be claimed. The government has accumulated more than 10,000 unidentified bodies because no data bank exists at the national level to cross check names; and because these dead, like the others, are insignificant.
We live in a militarized country, sinking in the violence and barbarism of both the Narcos and the State. We live in an age of scoundrels, of a miserable and despotic ruling class; of shameless white collar criminals. We live amongst leaders with hands stained in blood; amongst mafias that plunder our natural resources; amongst parasites that embezzle the budget; amongst thieves that loot the national wealth; amongst slavers that pass for employers; amongst corruption that pillages the social well being. We live under a government that generates poverty, with 70 million poor that include 28 million living in food poverty. We live in an era of endemic impunity, with organized crime lodged in the highest spheres of power. We live at the end of the bloodiest ‘sexenio’ (six year presidential administration) in modern Mexican history. We live in Felipe Calderon’s last Christmas as tenant of ‘Los Pinos’ (Mexico’s version of the White House).
Hope, however, has not died; the guns of rival gangs have not succeeded in killing it. Hope is the principle weapon of the Movement of the Insignificants, of the children, of the nobodies and no-ones, of those that don’t matter, of the invisible. It is the weapon of those idealists and dreamers that think they can change the world, or at least the little world around them.
And we are determined not to surrender, but to continue the struggle guided by the shining light of love, solidarity and tolerance for a more just distribution of wealth, respect for human rights, dignity and equality. We are in search of another Mexico where peace and social justice is alive. We are many and we are growing by the day.
Sooner or later we will reach the other Mexico.