In Chihuahua on May 8, 2018, loved ones of Mexicans who have disappeared read messages of concern and support written by Canadians. (Itzel Plascencia/Amnesty International)

Disappeared in Mexico: Canadians support affected families


Canadians have written messages of concern and support on paper butterflies delivered by Amnesty International Canada to Mexicans who have lost friends or family members. More than 35,000 people in Mexico have disappeared. Monarch butterflies make a yearly migration between Mexico and Canada and were chosen as a symbol of the close ties between the two countries.

The monarch butterfly symbolizes close ties between Canada and Mexico. (Itzel Plascencia/Amnesty International)

‘Families clamouring for truth, justice’

The disappearances are the work of organized crime, police and security forces and sometimes shadowy collusion between the two. “The families are clamouring for truth, justice, and an end to this nightmare,” said Alex Neve, secretary-general of Amnesty International Canada from Chihuahua, Mexico.

He and colleagues went to Mexico to present several hundreds of paper butterflies to people who have lost loved ones. The state of Chihuahua has been one of the hardest hit and citizens have erected a “Cross of Nails” to draw attention to the crisis of murdered and missing women there.


Alex Neve calls ‘the long-standing crisis of disappearances’ in Mexico one of the most alarming and devastating of the country’s very serious human rights challenges. (Amnesty International Canada)

Amnesty’s Alex Neve read Canadian messages to the families of the Mothers of the Disappeared in the State of Chihuahua, Mexico on May 8, 2018. (Itzel Plascencia/Amnesty International)

Canadian delegation joins march

Members of Amnesty International read messages from Canada and delivered the paper butterflies into the hands of affected families, and later joined mothers, children and other family members going to Mexico City for a march on May 10, 2018. Marches were also planned in the Canadian cities of Toronto, Ottawa and Vancouver.

Neve said there needs to be a strengthening of the mechanisms for investigating cases of disappearance in Mexico so families can find out what has happened to their loved ones and whether they are still alive. In cases where someone is dead, he said there needs to be justice and accountability for those responsible.

Families and friends of the disappeared marched on Mexico City on March 10, 2018. (Amnesty International Canada)

New must be enforced, say activists

Last year, the Mexican government brought forward new law on disappearances. Families now want full implementation of the law, adequate resourcing and the creation of institutions and mechanisms to ensure the law is applied. “Sadly in Mexico, there’s often a disconnect between laws that promise great things and then a failure to ensure proper implementation,” said Neve. “We absolutely don’t want to see that with this new law.

Canadians and other members of Amnesty International joined the march to protest the disappearance of 35,000 people in Mexico. (Amnesty International Canada)

Canada needs to ‘really push’ the Mexican government, says activist

Neve added Canada has a role to play on this issue in part because we are a major trading partner with Mexico and many Canadians travel to Mexico. On May 11, 2018 Canada’s ambassador to Mexico has agreed to receive a delegation representing mothers of the disappeared on May 11, 2018 .

Leaders of Amnesty International Canada wrote a letter to Canada’s Minister of Foreign Affairs before a recent high level dialogue on human rights held between the two countries.

Neve urged the Canadian government to raise the issue of the disappeared at all levels, “really pushing the Mexican government to commit to the (law) reform agenda, to ensure that the law that has been brought forward is fully implemented and to just make it very clear to the Mexican government that Canada is concerned, Canada is watching and Canada has some expectations.”

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One comment on “Disappeared in Mexico: Canadians support affected families
  1. Avatar Peter Ashcroft says:

    Life in Mexico is so fluctuating, with deaths and skirmishes.
    The Mexican Government must successfully implement all current legislation against gang warfare.