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Mexican Mother's Day march spotlights search for missing

From Krupskaia Alis, CNN
May 11, 2012 -- Updated 0236 GMT (1036 HKT)
Hundreds from different states in Mexico march in Mexico City against forced disappearance Thursday.
Hundreds from different states in Mexico march in Mexico City against forced disappearance Thursday.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Mothers and others march with pictures of their missing sons and daughters
  • They say they came to Mexico's capital on Mother's Day with the hope of being heard
  • "They took my son's life and they took mine," one mother says
  • Human rights commission: More than 5,300 people have disappeared in five years

Mexico City (CNN) -- Delia Garcia traveled hundreds of miles to spend Mother's Day marching in Mexico's capital.

It is her latest stop in the search for her son, who went missing more than two years ago after he was kidnapped by a group who drove up in trucks to the doors of her house in the northern city of Torreon.

"That day, they took my son's life and they took mine. They took half my life, because this half, I am using to search for him," Garcia said.

She was among a group of mothers and other family members marching in Mexico City on Thursday, Mother's Day in Mexico and several other Latin American countries. Holding signs with pictures of their missing sons and daughters, they said they came with the hope of being heard.

But they said they were also tired of waiting, claiming that the authorities have not done enough to find the thousands of people who have disappeared as a brutal drug war embroils the nation.

"The first few days I lived with fear. I lived with a lot of fear, but seeing that they were not doing anything, I decided to make my signs and go out and look for him, and let people know that I am searching for my son," said Irma Alicia, whose said her son disappeared in Mexico's capital on March 23.

Alicia said she was still waiting for answers.

Vanishing victims: The 'open wounds' of Mexico's drug war

Others told similar stories.

Jose Antonio Torres said communication was even more difficult for his family; many of them are deaf, including five people who went missing while selling calendars in the state of Coahuila on February 23.

"The authorities don't give any response. They don't give information, and there is a lack of communication between the authorities and people with disabilities. There are not translators in the government offices," he said.

Without information, they have searched on their own, finding whatever details they can about the cases.

"They were at an intersection in Piedras Negras, and we know that a black truck with armed and masked gunmen took them," Torres said. "They were simply working in the street, on a public road."

Such stories are becoming increasingly common throughout the country, where government statistics indicate more than 47,000 people have died in drug-related violence since President Felipe Calderon declared a crackdown on cartels in December 2006.

According to Mexico's National Human Rights Commission, more than 5,300 people have disappeared throughout the country in that same time period. And the bodies of 9,000 dead have not been identified.

Officials fear the total number of missing could be far higher, because many disappearances go unreported.

In October, Calderon said the "very high" number of missing people was a growing concern. He listed them among the victims of violence that he described as "open wounds" in Mexican society.

"We don't know the size of the problem," the president said during a speech inaugurating a new prosecutor's office aimed at helping victims.

But no matter the statistics, mothers marching in Mexico's capital Thursday said they would not stop until their children are found.

"This is a call for help, a call for an immediate search, but above all a call of love," Garcia said. "Let our children know that we love them, that we are searching for them and we need them."

CNN's Catherine E. Shoichet contributed to this report.

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