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Families Of The Missing In Baja California Protest Students’ Disappearance

Video by Nicholas Mcvicker

The disappearance of 43 students from a rural teaching college in central Mexico has galvanized family members of missing persons in other states, like Baja California.

On Monday morning, Fernando Ocegueda crouched in front of the Baja California government seat, laying out a mosaic of vinyl posters printed with the names and photos of people who have gone missing in recent years, including his son who was kidnapped in 2007.

Ocegueda, who heads a group of family members of missing persons in the border state, plans to camp in front of the government building until authorities agree to meet a list of demands. Protests like these have taken place all over the country since 43 students, from a teaching college in central Mexico, went missing in late September.

Last Friday Mexico’s attorney general, Jesús Murillo Karam, announced that a drug gang had killed the students and burned their bodies. DNA tests are forthcoming.

Photo by Jill Replogle

The group, Unidos por los Desaparecidos de Baja California, holds a sit-in on Nov. 10, 2014 to protest the lack of progress in investigating the cases of missing loved ones.

The case has helped bring public attention to a nationwide problem: More than 22,000 people have gone missing across Mexico since the country’s drug war heated up in 2006.

But after years of pressing Baja California authorities for progress toward finding his son and other missing Baja Californians, Ocegueda doesn’t think the state government is serious about finding them.

“They always catalogue the victims as having been involved in organized crime,” Ocegueda said, “so their cases don’t go anywhere.”

Ocegueda’s group has documented 250 cases of missing persons in Baja California in the last seven years. Some groups say the total number is much higher.

The list of demands from Ocegueda’s group includes updating and making public the database of missing persons in Baja California, creating a special state prosecutor’s office to investigate the cases and purchasing radar equipment to search for remains of missing persons who have been buried.

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