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.
‘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.Listen
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.
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.
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.”