Atoyac de Álvarez is a municipality in the State of Guerrero between the Sierra Madre del Sur and the Costa Grande, and as with many regions in Latin America, its veins remain open. It´s history, throughout the so-called "Dirty War" in the 70s, is paradigmatic of the history of State violence in Mexico: human rights violations through the militarisation of the area, forced disappearances and killings. If democracy fears remembering, and we become ill with amnesia, family members of disappeared people have incessantly sought their mothers, fathers, sons, daughters, brothers, sisters and friends. A long path of memory, truth and justice that has lasted for 45 years now.
It was in this context that, between 25th and 27th March 2019, PBI accompanied Tita Radilla and AFADEM (The Association of Families of Detained and Disappeared Victims of Human Rights Violations in Mexico) in the framework of the sixth excavation activity to search for disappeared people. The excavations, carried out between 25th March and 13th April, took place in the Ciudad de Los Servicios, an area that was a military base during the 70s and 80s and headquarters of the 27th Battalion, in Atoyac de Álvarez.
The ex-military base was the last place in which Rosendo Radilla Pacheco was seen alive, in August 1974. Rosendo was a social leader and father of Tita Radilla and along with 470, was forcefully disappeared by military members in the 70s. In 2009, the Inter-American Court of Human Rights released a sentence against the Mexican State in the Radilla Case. Ten years later, the reparations dictated by the Court, such as "the effective search and immediate localisation of Mr Rosendo Radilla Pacheco, or his remains". The sixth activity was carried out in the framework of the this sentence and was organised by members of the Public Prosecutor´s Office (FGR) and the National School of Anthropology and History (ENAH) and the National Institute of Anthropology and History (INAH) as well as counting on the support of the Mexican Forensic Anthropology Team. At the request of Tita Radilla, PBI accompanied AFADEM throughout the development of the excavations.
The sixth activity represents an relevant advance in the search for truth and justice for the victims and families of disappeared people, however, it is important to not the length of time these types of processes take which can affect the psychological integrity of the families and victims. According to what we have been able to confirm during the days we accompanied Tita Radilla and AFADEM, there were various problems with the activity, starting with the 3 year delay by the FGR in starting the excavations. We also observed logistical and administrative problems, with a limited number of economic resources and personnel. The families of the disappeared people attended the excavations and many physically assisted the excavations. Civil society organisations also supported with work informing the population in schools and churches of what happened in the municipality in the Dirty War.
Once the activities had finished, evidence was found, however, the Mexican State still has not given answers to Tita Radilla and the victims and families of the disappeared people in the Dirty War. The search for their loved ones continues and the veins remain open.