Saturday, June 10, 2017

Real Stories of Mexico’s Disappeared: Carlitos and the Search Among Human Remains for His Missing Sister

Posted by DD Republished from MxJTP

Written by Javier Valdez   
Feb. 8, 2017
Originally Published in La Jornada (Sp) and translated for Mexican Journalism Translation Project by Patrick Timmons PhD a human rights investigator in the Americas, an investigative journalist, and historian.
DD;  From time to time I will be posting stories written by Javier Valdez during his short life  to insure we keep our memories of this brave journalist  and his work alive. 
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Around 60 search party members from 11 states in Mexico look for missing or disappeared people in the towns of El Quelite in Mazatlán and Sataya in Navolato. Photograph by Javier Valdez. Published in La Jornada.

 Culiacán, February 8, 2017—Carlitos says that he loves his sister and that he is not going to leave her unprotected. At his tender age he already feels guilty for something he did not do, for having failed to take care of and protect Zoé Zuleika. She has been missing for a year.

Carlitos – that’s what we’ll call him – is barely eight years old and he searches for missing people: a searcher of human remains who carries a small staff and pickaxe. His grey and black striped sweater keeps him from the morning chill. He is Mexico’s youngest searcher of the disappeared.

When you ask him what he is going to say to his sister when he sees her again, the boy answers: 

"That I love her; that I am going to protect her."

 Around the Navolato community of San Pedro, in the deciduous forest, the little one looks among whoever’s human remains, but really he’s searching for his sister.

With blows from his staff and still more from his pickaxe he looks for Zoe like someone who knows he will find her. His lively, black eyes light up like fireflies and he smiles when he thinks about her.

The last time he saw her, he remembers, was a year ago in his father’s truck, in Soledad, a town in San Luis Potosí.

He says that when he finds her he is going to protect her, including from his father whom he suspects took her. Carolina Gómez Rocha, 40, is mother to both children. She comes from San Luis Potosí, and she searches for missing people, even though she realizes it is unlikely she will find Zoé in the state of Sinaloa.

"I do these searches to strengthen the families who are here searching, not to find my daughter. I know that she is alive. I am her mother and my heart tells me so. I am here to support the cause. It has been an immense experience, and yes it does help me, it strengthens me, "  she says. She’s a few yards from the Culiacán River, between the sand sifters and the cornfields.


She has four children: 8, 18, 20, and Zoé, 6. The youngest worry her and give her hope. 

The day Zoé disappeared Carolina’s family had gone to a party. They went at the insistence of her father in law.

The girl, who was already tired, fell asleep in her father’s truck. A few minutes after midnight they decided to leave but the young girl was not there anymore.

Safety Belt

Carolina and even Carlitos suspect his father. He does not ask about the girl. He has not joined in the searches or gone to the authorities even after they filed the criminal complaint. Her husband’s family acts just the same: indifferent. That’s why they don’t dismiss the idea that they have Zoé or know where she is.

Less than a kilometer from where the search party is looking, the prosecutor set up a roadblock. Two women police officers approach, ask questions in a friendly way, and allow or deny entry. Few get close. Further on, where they are conducting the search, there are four federal police patrol cars. They have dogs with them, dogs trained to search for human remains, and experts with their kit.

About thirty members of the Third National Search Party have come together to excavate and ask questions. This search will last two weeks. A Catholic priest is participating, as are many young women and several members of the Marabunta organization. Most of them wear white shirts with black text: Where are they?

According to statistics from the state prosecutor, around 2,200 people disappeared in Sinaloa during the last six years, the period when Mario López Valdez was governor. His term ended last December.

Some searchers look near the heavy machinery. Others go to another site in the truck belonging to the prosecutor’s forensic team. Still others seek shade under the poplars.

They laugh. They poke risqué fun at the young priest, circling in on each other. Even during the search there is time for fun yet memories still weigh heavy.

They are more than 60 searchers from 11 states. Right now they are looking for human remains in two graves: in El Quelite in Mazatlán, and in Sataya, Navolato. They have managed to unearth one body. It still has not been identified.

Some yards away, in an overgrown corner, Lucas, the police dog, digs again and again. So much so that it looks like he’s playing. The agents say he lifts his ears and his tail goes straight and he goes stiff when he finds human remains. He doesn’t do any of that today.

There’s Carlitos. With his staff and his pickaxe. Sometimes he wants to leave and attaches himself to his mother’s skirt. The two bob through the mess of dry branches, big leaves and uneven earth. It looks like they are crossing a swamp but they emerge clean.

After his sister disappeared, the boy went through a bad time at school. He enjoys math: but his grades went from 9s and 10s to 6s and 7s.

He carries himself aggressively. He locks himself in his room. He throws himself on his bed and cries, all the while clutching a photo of Zoé. He speaks to her. He cries over her. That’s why he goes to therapy. He falls down and he gets up. Here he raises his staff and plunges it into the ground.

– When you speak with your sister, what will you tell her?

– I will tell her I love her and I miss her and that I will protect her. That I can take care of her. That I won’t let my father leave her in his truck.

Award winning Mexican journalist Javier Valdez Cárdenas was murdered on May 15, 2017 just after leaving Ríodocea newspaper he helped establish in Culiacán, Sinaloa. He was 50 years old. He published this story in La Jornada on February 8, 2017. His most recent book (previously published in Spanish as Levantones), appears in English translation and with an introduction to Sinaloa by Everard Meade as The Taken: True Stories of the Sinaloa Drug War,  published earlier this year by University of Oklahoma Press.

9 comments:

  1. A better story than all these narco nonsense family stories.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Carlos mom accuses the girl's father and his family of the kidnap and of keeping secrecy.
    And the searchers found one body. Far away from their land in San luis Potosi, when nearby Veracruz needs the help because there are there clandestine graves all over the beloved state of eon's beloved governor, "la marrana sin cola" javier duarte de ochoa, a real mass murdering animal like epn.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Patrol agent kidnapped...

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  4. http://www.msn.com/en-ca/news/world/mexico%e2%80%99s-war-is-hell-it%e2%80%99s-next-door-it%e2%80%99s-getting-worse-why/ar-BBCv4Rx?li=AAggNb9
    decent article however missing the most important point. Fair taxation that can pay a good wage to security forces!
    Of course, strong imprisonment laws for the corrupt at all levels of gvt!
    RussoNazi

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. 12:22 are you badmouthing my mom?
      Ain' seen this java script Fortran for a while

      Delete
  5. El 20 arrested in culiacan

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  6. What is happening In Colima? what cartel is fighting with who? Just had a distant family member kill by a cop & dump in las brechas.

    ReplyDelete
  7. Javier Valdez is another martyr in a growing list of martyrs who are blowing the whistle of this evil called organize crime, drug cartel, violence. The body count is just piling-up with the victims thereof. God Bless the families of the victims. QEPD Javier. Alias el passion por el periodismo

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  8. Blame el pinchi Quirino, he wants to blame somebody else to steal their whole turf.
    All of epn's new narco-governors are doing the same thing and murdering for the hell of it.

    ReplyDelete

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