Miguel Angel Jimenez Blanco was found dead near his home in a small town in Guerrero after being shot in his own taxi. Jimenez was a leading political activist that played a major role in the uncovering of mass graves of presumed disappeared people in Mexico. Jimenez helped the families of missing students search for their relatives through search parties he organized or led himself.
Following the disappearance of 43 students in Iguala last September, Blanco actively led search parties that helped uncover mass graves and organized community-led police programs. It was with Jimenez’s help that the search parties expanded their search spectrum to include more missing people whose relatives had been too afraid to say were missing.
According to CNN, Jimenez was a vocal leader of self-defence groups in Guerrero. He did not shy away from openly criticizing local officials for purposefully hiding evidence that could have helped in the discovery of the 43 missing students.
While searching for leads about the students, Jimenez and the search groups uncovered a series of mass graves of other missing Mexican citizens. A week before his death, Jimenez told CNN Mexico that over 100 bodies were discovered in hidden graves in the wider Guerrero area since last November.
Jimenez also helped organize ‘The Other Disappeared’ a group comprising of women mostly and who met on Sundays to search for any remains of their missing loved ones.
“He was always looking for somebody to help,” Xitlali Miranda, an Iguala search group activist said. “He was one of the first people to say, ‘If these aren’t the students (bodies), then who are they?’”
Guerrero is an opium-producing state with a high rate of gang and drug violence. From January to June 2015, 943 people have been killed. As BBC reports, over the second weekend of August at least 15 people were killed, among them Jimenez.
The Mexican activist was found dead in a taxi he owned in the town of Xaltianguis at the outskirts of Acapulco bearing two gunshot wounds. The police have yet to link any suspects to the killing.
During a BBC interview Jimenez revealed that about 300 families had since come forward, saying they had missing relatives as well. Jimenez said:
“We have been saying from the start that this area is a cemetery.”
A statement has to be filed for a case of disappearance to be taken up by the police. However, this proves to be extremely rare as the relatives of missing people are discouraged from doing so in fear of retribution or of the police’s own involvement in the disappearances.