Photos of missing Mexicans printed on tortilla wrappers

A small effort to find more than 25,000 men, women and children

by David Agren

Wrap it up

Jose Luis Gonzalez/Reuters

In the U.S., milk cartons carrying smiling images of missing children once served as grim reminders of the unimaginable each morning around the breakfast table. Mexicans eat tortillas the way Americans drink milk; now tortilla wrappers are being used to drum up information on Mexico’s missing men, women and children. This month, three dozen tortilla mills in Ciudad Juárez’s bad barrios began wrapping their hot tortillas in paper ads pleading for information on the missing. Over the course of the drug wars, the border city has become notorious for brutal murders and disappearances. “The disappearances in Juárez have to disappear,” read the government-sponsored wrappers.

The scourge of disappearances there—once the murder capital of the hemisphere, but now calm enough to have recorded its first murder-free weekend in five years—dates back two decades, and has included hundreds of young women, whose cases have gone mostly unsolved. The tortilla industry seems anxious to be of assistance. “A friend of mine has been unable to find her daughter for a few years,” Esperanza Lozoya, a shop owner, told media. “We have to help out.”

The problem of missing persons in Mexico goes beyond Ciudad Juárez. New government data estimates a staggering 25,000 Mexicans have gone missing in the last six years. The government list, obtained by Maclean’s, collates physical characteristics—nose shape, tattoos and piercings—but often gives little more information than the missing person’s name, address and birthdate. “Went out to buy cigarettes, but never returned,” is the extent of information relating to a woman who went missing in the northeastern state of Tamaulipas. Her case remains unresolved, like so many in Mexico, where the country’s human rights commission estimates that just one per cent of murders result in a conviction.

The missing-person problem is now the responsibility of new President Enrique Peña Nieto. He promises to focus on kidnapping and extortion—not just nabbing cartel kingpins. Analysts urge him not to forget the missing. “No one is looking for them,” says Alberto Islas, CEO of Risk Evaluation in Mexico City. “Most could be dead or in mass graves.” But, he adds, police need to start looking.




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Photos of missing Mexicans printed on tortilla wrappers

  1. quiero un kilo

    • Mucho dinero

  2. Wow, smart move will reach millions, most Mexicans purchase tortillas everyday. It left me speechless though, they are so many missing, I really hope it helps.

  3. Extortion and kidnapping along with drug trafficking are also big revenue earners for Mexican drug cartels who are also rapidly expanding their activities into the US and Canada. This may also be our reality very soon.

  4. I bet half of those people are off working under the table in Southern California

    • You’re ridiculous. North Americans are so quick to point out that immigrants are taking money from North Americans by working under the table. I’ve never seen a caucasian last more then a day on a large scale farm, picking the fruit and vegetables we eat every day. When you find a big group of North Americans willing to work jobs like cleaning toilets, picking vegetables in hot conditions and working as housekeepers for 14 hours a day, then you may have the right to say something about it. Besides that, it’s the “Californian’s” that are paying them cash, so they aren’t being so righteous about the situation either now are they? In the mean time, have some compassion for people the missing or dead individual. Many of whom I’m sure had nothing to do with the drug trade and led ordinary and almost most definitely tough lives in Mexico and surrounding Central American countries.

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