Mexico: Mother who fought for justice for her daughter gunned down on International Mothers’ Day

“They will kill me in the end. Of that I have no doubt” – and they did.

On the evening of 10 May, a group of armed men forced their way into the home of Miriam Rodríguez Martínez in Tamaulipas, in the north east of the country, and shot her 10 times. She was taken immediately to hospital, but was declared dead on arrival.

In 2012, Miriam’s daughter Karen Alejandra was disappeared. When the official investigation proved fruitless, Miriam undertook her own investigation and, for 2 years, she worked unceasingly to discover the whereabouts of her daughter, and to bring her killers to justice.

In 2014,  her work led to the discovery of a mass grave which also contained the body of her daughter. Further evidence supplied by her to the police led to a series of arrests and the prosecution of the alleged perpetrators, members of the Zeta gang. Miriam did not just focus on the search for her own daughter. She was one of the founding members of Colectivo de Desaparecidos en San Fernando, which campaigned for justice for the families of all the disappeared. She also helped to create a national network for the families of the disappeared.

When three of the gang members, charged with murdering her daughter, were among a group of criminals who escaped from the prison in Tamaulipas in March, Miriam feared for her life. In this interview she talks about how, despite the fact that she had requested protection from the authorities, it was never provided.

According to her husband, the threats started at the end of March. On one occasion gang members kidnapped her husband, but Miriam followed in her car, while calling the police, and managed to intercept the gang and rescue her husband.  Because of the repeated threats she had received over the years, Miriam had given up her market business and was working in a health centre. Just weeks before her death she confided in a friend that she felt that the gang would kill her in the end.

Miriam’s death is just the latest killing of a parent who has been  searching for the truth about the disappearance of a family member. Since 2010, at least 11 parents have been killed because they refused to give up the struggle to find out what had happened to their children.

  • Marisela Escobedo Ortiz
  • Nepomuceno Moreno Núñez
  • Sandra Luz Hernández
  • Luis Abraham Cabada Hernández
  • Bernardo Carreto
  • Cornelia San Juan Guevara Guerrero
  • José Jesús Jiménez Gaona
  • Heriberto López Gastélum
  • Emma Gabriela Molina Canto
  • Gerardo Corona Piceno
  • Míriam Rodríguez Martínez

According to local media reports there have been several recent instances of HRDs being followed, having their photographs taken by unknown people and of unmarked vans driving round their homes at night. With 5,682 people reported to have been disappeared in the last seven years, mostly at the hands of drug cartels, the State of Tamaulipas has the highest rate of disappearances in Mexico.