The fourth murder of a volunteer search activist in Mexico since the beginning of 2021 was a mother looking for her missing child.
Esmeralda Gallardo, a leader in the search for her daughter, Esmeralda, 22, who was missing, was identified as the victim on Tuesday by activists.
Gallardo was allegedly murdered in the city of Puebla, which is east of Mexico City, according to the activist group “Voice of the Disappeared in Puebla.”
Puebla’s prosecutors acknowledged the murder and promised to crack the case “as swiftly as possible.”
However, the group urged officials to “set aside the flimsy statements and guarantee the safety of the victims, as well as the rights and safety of the families of the disappeared.”
According to the Mexican office of the United Nations on human rights, Gallardo was killed. Gallardo “had provided crucial information about her daughter’s disappearance which was not effectively taken into account throughout the search or the investigation of the crime,” the U.N. office said in a statement condemning the killing.
In January 2021, Betzabe Alvarado Gallardo, the father’s daughter, vanished in Villa Frontera, a working-class area.
Rosario Rodrguez Barraza, a search activist, was assassinated in August in Sinaloa, a state in northern Mexico that is the seat of the same-named drug organization.
Searcher Aranza Ramos was discovered dead a day after her search team found a corpse disposal site in the northern state of Sonora in 2021. Javier Barajas Pia, a volunteer search activist, was shot and killed earlier that year in Guanajuato, the most violent state in Mexico.
The reason behind those deaths is still unknown, and numerous searchers have publicly stated in the past that they are not looking for evidence to bring criminals to justice.
Most of the mothers of Mexico’s more than 100,000 missing people serve on volunteer search teams.
Many moms are obliged to conduct their own investigations or join search teams because of official delays or incompetence. These teams frequently act on tips and traverse gullies and fields while driving iron rods into the earth to detect the distinctive odor of decaying bodies.
Finding graves and identifying the remains are typically the searchers’ principal objectives, as are the police who occasionally join them. Search teams occasionally even get advice from anonymous sources regarding where bodies are buried, information that is likely only known to the murderers or their proxies.
But the mostly female volunteers frequently talk about receiving threats and being observed, perhaps by the same individuals who killed their siblings, children, and husbands.
A coalition of search organizations demanded protection for seeking mothers in a statement following the slaying in August.
The coalition declared that “no mother should be slain for trying to find her children.” Contrarily, the government is required to safeguard their safety as they carry out their searches as long as there are still thousands of unsolved cases of missing persons.