Calvary can take months or years … The failed search for missing persons is in many cases the efforts of single family members. "Wait, we'll let you know." "Leave things like this behind and avoid problems," are some answers from the authorities.
In El Salvador to disappear ten people a day, usually between the ages of 15 and 39. The pattern is usually the same: they went to work, studied or visited a friend and they did not return home. The Attorney General's office registered more than 3500 cases of missing persons in 2018.
Professor Blanca Lidia Rosales de Cortez is one of those thousands of missing names in El Salvador last year; Nearly eight months after his search, the family has only received answers from the prosecutor's office that the case is being investigated and that they are not passing there, his mother says.
In recent years, the authorities have concentrated on discussing whether the number of disappeared is really little in the solution and until last year they have issued a "protocol of attention and investigation of missing persons", an effort between Attorney, Police, Legal medicine, Attorney for Human Rights, among others.
Meanwhile, the unsuccessful search query of missing persons – in many cases – an attempt is only made by family members. Security experts say that if a family member doesn't come home the moment they usually return, if they spend 24 hours, the next 48 hours; and does not answer your cell phone in a country with more than 3,000 murders a year, and with more than 60,000 gang members in neighborhoods and neighborhoods, the outlook is not encouraging.
After that time it has even become normal for a Salvadoran family to make an effort not to find their loved one alive, but at least to find the remains to give a Christian funeral and to know where it will be. But in El Salvador, that possibility is not that simple.
The three options to find a missing person
Police sources involved in body repair, suppose there are several ways to find a missing person: that a criterion witness (gang member who participated in the event) cooperates and reveals where the victim is, the finding by chance; either because an animal scribbled and found human bones, or because it rained and water washed the ground and discovered the corpse.
The people who were registered as having disappeared in 2018 by the office of the Attorney General of the Republic
The sources claim that the state is not looking for missing people as their families do in canyons, farms, rivers and other areas. And while relatives come and go in search of their loved ones, new cases are added to the list of missing persons.
Daily social networks report new misconceptions such as those of the university Nicole Herrera Godoy, 18, who, according to her parents, has been missing since February 10 when she left her home in Nejapa for Apopa, went on to buy materials to do a job of the career she is studying. From this date his parents don't know what happened to his daughter.
The story is repeated with the teenager Manuel Alexis Pasayes García, 15, who left his home in Mejicanos on March 12 to visit his girlfriend in the residential town of Corinto in the same town, but in the way he disappeared, and since that day his parents are struggling to find him.
For example, the detectives mentioned the Pimentel family's finding on a farm in Nahuizalco last February; which focused on the information of a gang member who attended the event and who negotiated through the "witness-witness" figure about his legal process – with benefits in exchange for cooperation with authorities -.
This example leads them to the conclusion that, apart from these exceptions, the state does not investigate the dozens of complaints that the police and prosecutors reach. There is no human capacity or interest is small, or both.
Guadalupe Echeverría, the head of the Life Unit of the Public Prosecution Service, is aware of this reality and the shortcomings of the institutions in order to be able to respond to relatives in time. The official is clear that during "the ceasefire between gangs Between 2012 and 2014, "the murders fell away and disappeared", as a strategy of killing and burial to keep low figures in normal scenarios.
Bendes and clandestine cemeteries
The prosecutor agrees with the police investigators when she confirms that the disappearances are related to gangs who kill their victims and hide their corpses, a fact that cannot be clarified if it is not by someone who participated in the act . the clandestine cemeteries they are closely linked to disappearances and gangs and it is only possible to find these places with the testimony of a murderer or accomplice.
In other cases the neighbors themselves work together with the authorities. With that light it goes to the land, but it needs resources because you don't have the exact place of the cemetery, "but we have reached places where you have not found one, not two but ten and more than 14 appear," says the prosecutor.
It is also possible when a citizen is unaware of the criminal structure that has witnessed the release of the corpse or funeral and decides to cooperate with the authority. It also happens because of an accidental event due to natural problems that expose a body.
Echeverría said that there is a significant reduction in human resources and technical equipment in the Attorney General's office, which entails a high procedural burden (from 100 to 300 trials for each prosecutor). He said that the staff that sees the murders is the same as the missing men, in the case of children and women, they are responsible for special prosecutors.
The nuisance in attention
As if it was not enough to lose a family member, some people have told El Diario de Hoy that police, prosecutors and Legal Medicine employees do not care for them as care, on the contrary, they look at them with annoyance like they do arrive take their time, some hide in their offices, do not receive their phone calls and those who spend a minute listening to them, simply show them photo albums of corpses and make suggestions instead of helping them relieve their pain increases.
Some affected have stated that civil servants who go to institutions usually treat them with indifference. The acting director of legal medicine, Pedro Hernán Martínez Vásquez confirmed that the instructions to the staff cannot be mistreated the relatives of the disappeared.
"Special treatment must be given to our users or mourners." The official tried to interpret, although he clarified that it was not a justification, to receive the complaints and mistreatments that family members say from legal department staff, as an attitude of the state or the moment these people live.
"I introduce myself and try not to justify when these people express that there are complaints about abuse, it is because of the pain that overwhelms them, and at that moment, whatever is said to them, it will be abuse or someone Say & # 39; there is nobody here & # 39; and he will say they would not give him any information. & # 39;
"However, we have constant supervision, we have a specialized department for victims and all users," said the director. The department has specialized staff who record all the details of the disappeared person, followed by that, the family member is psychologically prepared to show him the photo album of the corpses, if he is not fit due to the pain that grabs him, another family member becomes called.
Martínez Vásquez is of the criterion that the patient must be treated with all empathy, "and that is only possible by placing himself in place, which is accompanied by an enormous pain in search of his missing family member or body and my clue is that he is served with dignity. " He said that with the desire to clear the lists of disappeared, family members are called from time to time to see if their family member has already been found. Each person receives a file with a case number.
The director of Legal medicine He stated that the institution would not tolerate the abuse of relatives of victims of violence and asked someone who feels offended by an official to let him know, and warns that his office is open doors "or call 2529-8600 or 2529-8602 .
Walter Guillén, the Chief Inspector of the National Civil Police, said that two protocols were working with the institutions of the field: one for investigating cases of missing persons and another protocol of action and strategy for searching for missing persons.
The UN Office for Drugs and Crime cooperates with the financial support of the Government of Canada. "They are proactive attention and action protocols in less than six hours after the disappearance is registered and no longer have to wait 24, 72 hours to report the disappearance," Guillén explains.
Prosecutor Echeverría confirmed that of all institutions the "Protocol of urgent action and search strategy for disappeared persons in El Salvador" has been created, the purpose of which is to search, coordinate and investigate the disappeared.
"For example, there is a missing person in San Salvador, but they are likely to find an unknown victim in the east, we don't know if it can correspond to that person, we still have no communication or link between legal medicine and the Attorney General "says Guillén.
The institutions are working on creating a platform for the exchange of information that incorporates a complaint from the Public Prosecution Service and the police and that has all the data of the victim to compare with the finding of a corpse brought up as not identified elsewhere.
What they propose with this protocol is that it requires a "click" in the system to gain access to missing data due to physical characteristics, special signals, clothing, which will optimize searches. The institutions also coordinate efforts with organizations looking for, trying to help hundreds of people who are confronted with the hard disappearance of a family member.