Launch of the Footprints of Memory in London! At Amnesty International, London.
On Monday 20th March, the exhibition Footprints of Memory opened in the offices of Amnesty International UK in central London, as part of an international campaign against enforced disappearances. The exhibition launch was attended by María de Jesús Tlatempa Bello, mother of José Eduardo Bartolo Tlatempa, one of the Ayotzinapa students disappeared on the 26th September 2014. Also in attendance was artist Alfredo López Casanova, who began the Footprints of Memory project. The exhibition, organised by the Footprints of Memory Collective and the Department of International Politics at Aberystwyth University, was also attended by London solidarity collectives, such as London Mexico Solidarity, Justice Mexico Now and Movimiento Jaguar Despierto, as well as Jeremy Corbyn, leader of the Labour Party in the UK.
During the exhibition launch, López Casanova and Tlatempa Bello spoke of the problems associated with enforced disappearances and the origins of Footprints of Memory in working with the families of those disappeared. Tilly Lavenas, a representative of Amnesty International, talked about the commitment Amnesty has to human rights in Mexico and said that they will continue walking alongside the relatives of the disappeared to demand justice. For his part, Jeremy Corbyn also confirmed his commitment to human rights in Mexico and his solidarity with the families of the many thousands of people disappeared in that country.
The Footprints of Memory exhibition consists of 40 pairs of shoes of the relatives of the disappeared, which are a window into the story of enforced disappearance in Mexico. Among the shoes that have travelled to the UK’s capital are those of Braulia Jaimes, the wife of Epifano Avilés Rojas, the first disappeared politician, registered in 1969, as well as more recent disappearances committed in the past year. Reading the stories behind the shoes demonstrates the connection between disappearances and the impunity that has existed in Mexico for decades, while also highlighting the fierce resistance of the families of the disappeared, who have travelled the country and indeed the world in the search for their missing loved ones.
This is the first stop of a European tour that aims to raise awareness about the crisis of disappearances in Mexico, as well as creating solidarity for the families who continue fighting. Before the exhibition launch, an action was carried out with supporters in London, who were photographed on the shores of the River Thames with some of the shoes from the exhibition in order to express their concern about the crisis of impunity in Mexico. Those in attendance also posed with a sign that read ‘30,942 disappeared’, making reference to the latest official statistics published by RNPED (the National Registry of Missing or Disappeared People) on the number of disappearances nationwide.
Alfredo and María de Jesús will take part in other activities in London and afterwards continue with the European tour, which will cover five countries in the following weeks. Next week the exhibition arrives in Wales, while at the same time an exhibit of the relatives’ shoes will take place in Paris. After visiting the French capital, the tour will take in various cities in Italy, Germany and Spain, so that the stories of disappearances in Mexico are heard throughout Europe.
We Do No Forget
This is an action of solidarity with the disappeared in Mexico and the project ‘Footprints of Memory‘, done in London by LMS and friends. We gathered to remember the names of those who have been disappeared for years in Mexico and to make their stories resonate around the world. Holding the shoes engraved by the artist Alfredo López Casanova with the stories of the disappeared, we also embraced the force of those looking for their loved ones, captured in the stories engraved in the shoes which printed give form to a material memory. We stand in solidarity with the disappeared and those looking for their loved ones.
From London, we demand justice and truth for the disappeared and their relatives.
London 19th of March, 2017.
My name is María de Jesús Tlatempa Bello, mother of José Eduardo Bartolo Tlatempa, one of the 43 students from Ayotzinapa who disappeared in Iguala, Guerrero, on the 26th of September 2014. What we are living through is very difficult, but with your support and that of the whole world, we will continue on foot in this fight until we find them. Alive they look them, alive we want them back.
I am Leonel Orozco García, I am 8 years old. My Dad, Moises Orozco, was detained and disappeared on the 22nd May 2012 in Apatzingán, Michoacán. I am searching for my Dad until I find him because he’s my Dad and we love him lots.
These are the trainers of Jorge Verástegui González, brother to Antonio and uncle to Antonio de Jesús Verástegui Escobedo, who were taken from their home on the 24th of January 2009 in Parras, Coahuila. With them I search the rocky places of enforced disappearance. We need to walk, move, so we don’t get paralyzed by pain of the search.
My name is Lourdes Huerta. I have been searching for my son since the 12th August 2010. Kristian Karim was a victim of enforced disappearance. I continue to search, I will find you.
I, Margarito Ramírez, am searching for my son named Carlos Iván Ramírez Villareal. He is a student at the Ayotzinapa Normal School. He was disappeared by police along with 42 of his schoolmates on the 26th September 2014 in Iguala, Guerrero.
I am Tita Radilla, daughter of Rosendo Radilla, disappeared by the army on the 25th August 1974. Father, I have walked a long time in search of you and I will not stop until I find you.
My name is Silvia Becerril, I am searching for my daughter Jaquelinne, disappeared on the 12th of January 2007 in Iztapalapa. I will search and search until I find you, my girl. We love and hope for you always.
I am Lucía Baca, mother of Alejandro Alfonso Moreno Baca, victim of enforced disappearance. My son disappeared on the 27th January 2011. I continue searching for you. My heart will follow your footprints.
I am searching for my mum Leticia Galarza Campos, disappeared on the 5th January 1978 in Mexico City. I hope that my love reaches you every day. I will continue until I find you. Your daughter, Alejandra.
I am Brenda Ivonne Rangel Ortiz, searching for my brother Héctor, disappeared by municipal police on the 10th November 2009 in Monclova, Coachuila. I search for you with all my heart and hope that peace will be restored in my parents on finding you, my boy.
My name is Braulia Jaimes, I am searching for my husband Epifanio Avilés, disappeared for his political activity since the 19th May 1969, in Altamirano, Guerrero. Those responsible for his disappearance are General Miguel Bracamontes, Arturo Acosta Chaparro, and Miguel Nazar Haro. Epifanio, I have searched for you and will continue to search with all my strength until I find you.
My name is Camilo Tovar Mónaco. I am searching for my grandparents Ester Felipe and Luis Carlos Mónaco, disappeared in Villa María, Córdoba, Argentina, on the 11th of January 1978. I ask my mum Paula, “When are we going to find your parents?” She replies, “I don’t know, but we are going to continue searching for them”. When they return, I am going to run to hug my grandparents.
I am Salchicha the clown, I have walked a lot searching for my darling daughter Mónica Alejandrina Ramírez Alvarado, kidnapped and disappeared in Ecatepec in 2004. Monis, my little girl: I miss you, I need you, and I will search for you until the last day that Hashem, The Eternal, allows me to live, for you are consecrated to Him.
My name is Cristina Bautista, I am searching for my son Benjamin, disappeared alongside 42 on his brothers from Ayotzinapa. The police were responsible and it was the 26th and 27th of September 2014 in Iguala, Guerrero.
I am María Elena, mum of José Esaú Ugalde Vega, disappeared on the 14th of September 2015 in Querétaro. With these shoes I went out to search for you daily, everywhere. They were desperate days, without sleep, without eating, hoping to be with you. On the 4th of December 2015 they found your remains. I love you, son, we will never forget you.