Mexico's March For Peace Honors Victims Of Violence

Jan 27, 2020
Originally published on January 27, 2020 7:04 am
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RACHEL MARTIN, HOST:

Crime victims were on the street in Mexico over the weekend demanding that the government find their missing relatives and stop the skyrocketing violence happening there. Last year was the most murderous in Mexico's recent history with more than 35,000 people killed. Mothers, fathers, siblings and children of those murdered and disappeared filled blocks and blocks of the capital. NPR's Carrie Kahn reports.

CARRIE KAHN, BYLINE: Marchers walked in silence for miles through Mexico City's streets, stopping only a few times to shout their demands.

UNIDENTIFIED PEOPLE: (Chanting in Spanish).

KAHN: Truth, justice and peace yelled the marchers. Many held banners and pictures of their dead and missing, like 14-year-old Marlen Jasmine Mendoza (ph), who's desperate to locate her dad.

MARLEN JASMINE MENDOZA: (Speaking Spanish).

KAHN: "I just want someone to help me find him," she says. Her father was a bus driver on a routine trip when he disappeared last December. Authorities have done nothing, says his sister, Virginia Mendoza Hernandez (ph). We demand action, she says.

VIRGINIA MENDOZA HERNANDEZ: (Speaking Spanish).

KAHN: "Because he's not the only person missing. Unfortunately, every day, more and more people are disappeared," she says. While the Mendozas have been searching for their family member since last month, Leob ardo Tlpanco Mendez (ph) has been searching for his 14-year-old daughter for eight years.

LEOB ARDO TLPANCO MENDEZ: (Speaking Spanish).

KAHN: "We'll keep going. We won't give up," he says, "until we know the truth about what happened to my daughter and all the rest." Tens of thousands of people have disappeared since the government began waging its war on drug cartels in 2006 - 5,000 last year alone. The LeBaron family, who lost nine relatives last year, were at the front of yesterday's march. They're part of a religious community in northern Mexico who call themselves Mormons but are not affiliated with the Utah-based church. Some members of the group have vowed to form a militia to fight the crime gangs if the government won't. Three women and six children of the community were reportedly murdered by feuding drug gangs. Adrian LeBaron, whose daughter and four grandkids were killed, told the crowd that Mexicans have to lose their fear and start fighting back.

ADRIAN LEBARON: (Speaking Spanish).

KAHN: "We are fighting to live," he says, "not just to survive." Carrie Kahn, NPR News, Mexico City. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.