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Shocking Stories of Loss Motivate Mourners of Mexico's Drug War Victims to Hold the U.S. Responsible

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In Mexico, where the authorities and the drug cartels are hard to separate, finding answers is often left to the survivors of drug war violence. Some survivors have dug through mass graves, turning over mutilated bodies, half-hoping to see the face of a loved one. Others have stared their children's killers in the eye while hearing the brutal details of how their kids were murdered. They interview incarcerated drug traffickers, desperate for some kind of closure. Determined to speak for the victims who have lost their voices, some relatives of victims have joined a new movement, the Caravan for Peace with Justice and Dignity. The Caravan has demanded justice for the dead in Mexico, and this summer, they delivered their message -- a call for accountability -- across the United States.

That is the story of Margarita Lopez Perez, the mother of disappeared 19-year-old Yahaira Guadalupe Bahena Lopez. Lopez Perez's expensive journey to find the truth led her to incarcerated drug traffickers who admitted to killing her child. In great detail, they told her the horror Yahaira endured. "They told me that they kidnapped my daughter, that they had her alive for many days," she said, "They were torturing her, raping her, before taking her to a faraway place, and decapitating her alive." Then, they played with her head, kicking it around like a soccer ball and kissing her cold lips. "They told me she was innocent, that they made a mistake," said Lopez Perez.

In Mexico, many of the drug war's dead are innocents. In the six years of drug war that have ravaged the country, more than 60,000 are dead and more than 10,000 are missing. Because only 2 percent of cases are granted judicial review, families of the lost regularly become their own investigators. They find, too often, horrors tied to the authorities themselves.


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