The Casa de los Amigos, the Quaker house in Mexico City, is an MCC partner, and they recently hosted a very moving visit of Central American mothers searching for their children who have disappeared in Mexico while attempting to migrant to the United States to work. The kidnapping, extortion, sexual abuse, and killing of Central American migrants crossing Mexico has become an extremely serious human rights concern in the last couple of years. Below is a report from the Casa de los Amigos.
There is nothing more powerful than the search of a parent for a lost child. For the 33 Central American mothers who are visiting the Casa this week, this power is stronger than that of borders, governments, and cartels.
The “Caravana de Madres” are mothers from Honduras, Nicaragua, and El Salvador. They have uprooted themselves to search for their children who, seeking a better life and a way to support their families, disappeared on Mexico’s dangerous migrant trail. Bearing photos of their desaparecidos, the Caravana visits migrant shelters, hospitals, morques, brothels, and cemeteries, looking for any clue about the whereabouts of their loved ones.
On Monday night (Nov. 7, 2011), the Casa filled with many members of civil society, press, Casa guests, volunteers, and supporters of the Caravan. We listened to the testimony of the exhausted women, who are only at the halfway point of their ten-state journey.
“They left alive; we want them back alive.”
“She went looking for a better life…she didn’t find it.”
“I don’t know what to tell my two small grandchildren.”
“Let this support multiply, all around the world…let us form one single voice.”
We then facilitated an information session between the Madres and three Casa allies. The Catholic Commission for Migration offered counsel about registering the disappearances with federal authorities. Amnesty International gave a report on their work in Mexico on behalf of migrants. A Representative of the International Tribunal of Conscience gave an update on the statues of the charges leveled regarding crimes against migrants in Mexico.
The Caravan puts a human face on the invisible tragedy suffered by the thousands who try to pass through Mexico each week to go north. The National Human Rights Commission of Mexico registers more than 10,000 kidnappings of migrants annually in Mexico. The Madres represent all these families – their frustration, hope and pain.
This year on Day of the Dead, the Caravan performed a ceremony at San Fernando, Tamaulipas, in northern Mexico, the site of the August 2010 massacre of 72 migrants. For the women of the Caravan, the power of their witness in such a place outweighed any dangers of being there.
“We are on the heels of impunity’s footsteps,” declare the Madres. “While there is one mother searching for a lost child, …[we will not stop] searching and bearing witness no matter how long it take, no matter how much effort, danger or work it implies.”
We are grateful to be able to put the Casa at the service of this struggle.
The Casa de los Amigos Team.
For more on the Casa de los Amigos (Quaker House in Mexico City) and their work, see:
For more information and photos about the Caravan of Women, see: