“Donde está, donde está? Nuestra madre, donde está?”
“Our mother, where is she?” the protesters chant outside the Mexican Consulate off US-59 on Caroline Street.”
Three of them, Mitzi, Nitza and Daisy Alvarado say they haven’t seen their mother since the military took her in 2009 in the Mexican state of Chihuahua.
This is 18-year-old Nitza with a translator.
“Pués, estamos exigiendo justicia hasta que aparezca mi mamá y mi familia...”
“We’re asking for justice until my mother and my family is found…”
“…y todos, y otras personas desaparecidas.”
“…as well as everybody else who has disappeared.”
After trying to find their mother for several years, the three sisters came to the United States in September because they feel like they’re no longer safe in Mexico.
Carlos Spector is their attorney in El Paso, and he’s helping them to seek asylum in the U.S. Spector hopes the protest is the beginning of a national campaign to denounce human rights violations in Mexico.
“If there were 10 people (who) disappeared in this country at the hands of the police, there would be a revolution in hand. Yet we have 26,000.”
That number is from a missing person database published by the Mexican government, which shows that more than 26,000 Mexicans have disappeared between 2006 and 2012. Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch have found that in many cases, the military or police are responsible for the disappearances.
Spector acknowledges that most of the abductions can probably be attributed to organized crime, but he says in Mexico organized crime only works with the complicity of federal, state or local government.
“It’s being done directly or indirectly by the state. And so we cannot look at organized crime as a separate entity from the Mexican government. It’s authorized crime.”
Spector specializes in asylum cases. He says one reason why more than 90 percent of asylum seekers from Mexico are denied is because judges don’t accept the grounds on which many seek asylum.
“They’re not being persecuted just by organized crime. Most claims are denied because it’s mere criminality and it’s not persecution on a count of one of the protected grounds, which is basically political opinion or membership in a social group. And so I think if we change the dynamics and the analysis, which is it’s ‘authorized crime,’ then it’s state.”
After about an hour of protesting outside, Consul General Luis Malpica de Lamadrid came out and told protesters that he passed on their concerns to the Mexican government.
The Consulate says it has no official comment on the protesters’ accusations.