Monday, May 13, 2013

Mexican Moms Go on Hunger Strike

A group of thirteen people including numerous mothers have entered a fifth day of a hunger strike in order to seek answers over the whereabouts of their missing children.

Among the demands from the protesters residing in a makeshift camp outside the Attorney General’s Office (PGR) in Mexico City is the chance to talk with senior government officials including Enrique Peña Nieto.

“We are aware that the federal government is not entirely responsible for all the violence occurring in our country.  Yet it is their duty to recognize our appeal,” said Jaime Olivares Cruz, husband of one of the hunger strikers.

The protesters are allegedly in a “delicate” state of health and they were issued yesterday facemasks by a Doctors Without Borders medical delegation.  Some of them are reportedly battling chills, bone pains and other ailments after spending the past few days outdoors.

We will not leave until our cases have been resolved, the president meets with us and he gathers a working group to tell us when and how they will start to find our missing loved ones,” declared hunger striker Margarita López.  López said her “disappeared” daughter, Yahaira Guadalupe Bahena, was kidnapped two years ago by “armed men” and then tortured until she died. López has urged authorities to uncover a mass grave where her daughter was allegedly buried in but her pleas have thus far been ignored.

López was one of the participants in a seven-day hunger strike that took place last November and that ended after Mexico City authorities met with the protesters.

The current hunger strikers have received support from the likes of author Elena Poniatowska and anthropologist Martha Lamas, whom the protesters hope will bring awareness to their cause and also pressure the government to meet their demands.

Four months ago, Peña Nieto enacted a “Victims Law” that provides a mechanism for compensation of victims of organized crime as well as the creation of a national registry to record what happened to victims.  The Mexican president said, “With this law, the Mexican state hopes to give hope and comfort to victims and their families,” yet some human rights activists believe that more can still be done:

“This law came about as a result of sustained pressure from civil society, and is an important advance for the victims of human rights violations and crime in Mexico” said Javier Zúñiga, Special Adviser to Amnesty International. 

"The decision by the new president to remove the veto on the bill applied by former President Calderón is a positive sign that this government will begin to take seriously the rights of the victims of the violence.

“But for it to make a real difference, the Mexican authorities at all levels must ensure the law is complied with effectively. When abuses happen, victims and their family members have a right to know the truth, for a full and effective investigation to take place, receive protection and support and have access to reparations - we’ll be keeping pressure on the authorities to ensure this happens," said Zúñiga.
The hunger strike hasn’t ben the only recent action calling attention to the plight of families of “disappeared” Mexicans.  Hundreds of people demonstrated in several cities like Ciudad Juarez on Mexican Mother’s Day last Friday.

“We have nothing to celebrate on this Tenth of May.  Our daughters were taken away from us but we still have hope that they will be found alive,” said the mother of Luz Angélica Mena Flores who has been missing since August 2008.

Video Sources – YouTube via users teleSUR and Paris Martínez

Online Sources -; Amnesty International;;; WRadio; BBC News

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