Small Wars Journal

‘It’s a Crisis of Civilization in Mexico.’ 250,000 Dead. 37,400 Missing.

‘It’s a Crisis of Civilization in Mexico.’ 250,000 Dead. 37,400 Missing. By José de Córdoba and Juan Montes - Photographs by Yael Martinez V. - Wall Street Journal

One recent day, a line of grieving mothers armed with picks and shovels worked their way across a muddy field looking for Mexico’s dead and missing, their own children among them.

“It smells bad here,” said Lizbeth Ortega, a member of Las Rastreadoras de El Fuerte, or the Trackers of El Fuerte, a group of mothers who look for missing people.

The mothers literally wear their pain. Some don white T-shirts, like Ms. Ortega’s, which has a blown-up photograph of her daughter Zumiko, kidnapped almost three years ago and still missing. On the back, her shirt says “I’ll search for you until I find you.”

Other mothers wear green shirts with the words “Promise Fulfilled.” They are the ones who have found the bodies of their missing children.

That day, the mothers scoured the site outside El Fuerte, a town in Sinaloa state, on Mexico’s northern Pacific Coast, looking for one of two men presumably kidnapped by cartel gunmen in recent weeks. One body had already been found in a field. The women believed the other may be nearby. In the end, they came up empty…

Read on.