Relatives of missing persons protested boisterously outside the Jalisco governor’s residence last Friday, causing some minor damage to the property and provoking a stern reaction from state authorities.
A small contingent among a hyped-up crowd of some 200 demonstrators pounded on the main wooden door of Casa Jalisco and daubed the walls with graffiti, as they called for Governor Enrique Alfaro or other senior state officials to come out and meet with them. The door was partially damaged in the fracas, which was eventually broken up by police.
The protest was organized after the May 1 disappearance of two women, Nayeli Herrera, 30, and Karla Vázquez, 28, who were last seen in the vicinity of the old Guadalajara bus station on May 1. Family members have criticized the response of state authorities, believing they have withheld information – specifically surveillance video – that could help in locating them. They have also accused the Attorney General’s Office of “revicitimizng” the pair. In a press conference, Blanca Jacqueline Trujillo Cuevas, the special prosecutor for missing persons, said the two women were in the habit of “frequenting bars,” a comment that angered family members, who said this implied there was a justification for their disappearance.
In a press release, the state government said resolving several thousand missing persons cases in Jalisco is one of Alfaro’s three main priorities. The missive noted that since the start of his administration (in December 2018), the newly formed Fiscalía Especializada en Personas Desaparecidas (Special Prosecutors Office for Missing Persons) has held 51 meetings with various groups representing the disappeared, 93 with relatives of victims, and many more to explain the strategies the agency is now using to investigate and resolve cases.
In addition, the press release said, much work has been done to improve coordination with other agencies – public security, human and victims’ rights, forensic science, Red Cross – in the effort to resolve the backlog of cases.
The state government reiterated its commitment to free protest, while adding that demonstrations should always be carried out with “respect.” According to some reports, authorities have not ruled out filing criminal charges against those responsible for the damage to Casa Jalisco.