Mexican officials again criticize volunteer searcher after she finds more bodies

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A Mexican volunteer searcher, who has faced criticism from the government in the past, recently discovered additional human remains in Mexico City. Once again, officials have attacked her for her findings.

The existence of clandestine body dumping grounds is a sensitive issue for Mexico’s ruling Morena party. Morena, which is running the former Mexico City mayor for president in Sunday’s elections, claims that the kind of violence plaguing other parts of the country has been successfully combated in the capital.

Ceci Flores, the volunteer searcher, has spent years searching for her two missing sons. She asserts that officials haven’t made sufficient efforts to locate bodies. This complaint is common among relatives of missing individuals in various parts of Mexico, where drug cartels and kidnap gangs use shallow pits to dispose of victims’ bodies.

In a video posted on Thursday, Flores revealed what appeared to be human femurs and craniums in the tall, dry grass of a hillside on the city’s east side. She suggested that there were at least three bodies, with the possibility of more on the hillside. In the video, she emphasized that they didn’t want to disturb the remains.

Despite her dedication, Flores has clashed with the government before, accusing officials of ignoring the plight of Mexico’s more than 100,000 missing people. In late April, she drew the ire of city prosecutors when she claimed to have found charred bones and at least two people’s identification cards in another semi-rural area on the city’s east side. Prosecutors quickly dismissed her findings, attributing the bones to dogs and suggesting that the ID cards had been discarded or stolen.

President Andrés Manuel López Obrador even played a government-produced video during his daily press briefing, accusing searchers like Flores of morbidity and claiming they suffered from “a delirium of necrophilia.” However, by Friday, acting Mexico City prosecutor Ulises Lara was forced to acknowledge that Flores had indeed found human bones. Authorities dispatched police, forensic experts, National Guard officers, and soldiers to the scene.

The situation raises an obvious question: Why had the vast team of official manpower failed to locate the bodies, while a lone searching mother armed with only a shovel succeeded?

Lara criticized Flores without mentioning her by name, asserting that the chain of custody of the evidence had been broken and that the bones had been “handled.” Flores responded, questioning why the authorities hadn’t known about the remains and emphasizing that they had done the work they were supposed to do.

Regarding accusations that other searching relatives were angered by her actions (mass searches like Flores’s are uncommon in Mexico City), she retorted, “They should be angry at you for not doing your job.”

López Obrador’s administration has devoted more time and resources to looking for people falsely listed as missing (individuals who may have returned home without notifying authorities) than to searching for grave sites that grieving relatives desperately need for closure.

Flores, a highly accomplished searcher, shares the deep sense of mission common among many mothers of disappeared people. Her sons, Alejandro Guadalupe (disappeared in 2015) and Marco Antonio (abducted in 2019), remain missing, and authorities have provided no information about their fate.

In her home state of Sonora, authorities confirmed in April that they had identified 45 missing people among 57 sets of remains at a body dumping ground known as “El Choyudo”, originally discovered by Flores’ group, The Searching Mothers of Sonora.

These “madres buscadoras” (searching mothers) are not seeking to convict anyone; they simply want to find their loved ones’ remains. For many families, not knowing a relative’s fate is worse than knowing they are deceased.

Source: ABC