Relatives of people who have gone missing in Mexico are camped out in front of the country’s Interior Ministry on hunger strike. Shannon Young reports.
The women began their hunger strike on Tuesday as part of a last-ditch effort to pressure the federal government to take action on the issue of disappearances before the current administration leaves office.
The hunger strikers say the government has failed to keep promises it made during high-profile talks with drug war victims last year. Most of the women are mothers of people who have disappeared in the last six years.
But the hunger strike isn’t the only effort to keep the issue of drug war victims in the public eye and on the government’s agenda ahead of the change of power.
(roll Jorge Verastegui clip, fade down as reporter interprets)
Jorge Verastegui, whose brother and nephew were abducted in 2009, participates in an initiative to create a memorial for drug war victims by embroidering their names and stories in red thread on white handkerchiefs. He says the goal is to sew together all of the handkerchiefs into one big quilt to present in Mexico City’s main plaza the day President Felipe Calderon leaves office in order visually represent the magnitude of the crisis of violence.
Hard data on the number of victims is difficult to come by. It’s been nearly a year since the government released official statistics on drug war deaths, but independent counts by media outlets put that number well over 65 thousand. Calculating the missing and disappeared is even trickier, with estimates ranging from an outdated government figure of around 5 thousand to NGO estimates upwards of 30 thousand.
The current administration transfers power to a new government from a rival political party December 1st.
(Story produced for the Nov. 10, 2012 broadcast of the CBC’s “World Report”)
UPDATE: The women lifted their hunger strike on Tuesday, Nov. 13th after reaching agreements with federal officials. They said that, without advances, they will go back on hunger strike within 10 days.