Mom Searching for Abducted Son Is Slain in Mexico

Rosario Rodríguez Barraza killed on day dedicated to the disappeared
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Sep 1, 2022 1:41 PM CDT
Mom Searching for Abducted Son Is Slain in Mexico
Families of disappeared and several peasant organizations look for clandestine graves in Iguala, Mexico, on Nov. 23, 2014.   (AP Photo/Christian Palma, File)

Yet another mother searching for her disappeared son has been killed in northern Mexico, becoming the third volunteer search activist killed in Mexico since 2021. Rubén Rocha Moya, the governor of the northern state of Sinaloa, identified the dead woman Wednesday as Rosario Rodríguez Barraza—"a tireless fighter, like many other women in Sinaloa who are looking for their loved ones," per the AP. Rep. Paloma Sánchez, a congresswoman from Sinaloa, said Rodríguez Barraza was abducted near her home and killed Tuesday, the International Day of the Disappeared, which was marked in Mexico by marches and protests. The motive in the killings remained unclear, because most searchers say publicly they aren’t looking for evidence to convict killers.

In a video posted by "Hasta Encontrarles," another search group, Rodríguez Barraza is heard saying the classic phrase, "I'm looking for my son, I'm not looking for the culprits." Her son, Fernando Ramírez Rodríguez, hasn't been seen since he was abducted in the town of La Cruz, Sinaloa, in October 2019. Rodríguez Barraza said armed men in a white car snatched her son, then 20. Since then—despite conducting her own investigation and offering prosecutors the evidence—she has not heard anything. That is a common tale in Mexico. Faced with official inaction or incompetence, many mothers of Mexico's over 100,000 missing people, most thought to have been killed by drug cartels, are forced to do their own investigations, or join search teams.

Despite their public vows, they often recount getting threats and being watched—presumably by the same people who murdered their loved ones. In 2021, in the neighboring state of Sonora, searcher Aranza Ramos was found dead a day after her search group found a still-smoking body-disposal pit. Earlier that year, volunteer search activist Javier Barajas Piña was gunned down in the state of Guanajuato. A group of search collectives issued a statement Wednesday demanding protection for searching mothers. "No mother should be killed for searching for her children," the coalition wrote. "On the contrary, the government is obligated to ensure their safety in continuing their searches, as long as thousands of cases of disappeared people continue to pile up." (Read more Mexico stories.)

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