Mexican activist who took on drug cartels that killed her daughter murdered in her home

Miriam Rodriguez Martinez killed after setting up group for families with missing relatives

Gabriel Samuels
Friday 12 May 2017 10:19 BST
Miriam Rodriguez Martinez allegedly received death threats in the months before her murder
Miriam Rodriguez Martinez allegedly received death threats in the months before her murder (Facebook/Miriam Rodriguez Martinez)

A Mexican activist who pioneered a support network for the parents of missing children has been murdered by gunmen who invaded her home.

Miriam Rodriguez Martinez founded a local group of 600 families searching for their relatives five years ago after her daughter Karen was kidnapped and killed by the Los Zetas drug cartel.

Mrs Rodriguez lived in the municipality of San Fernando, one of the most crime-ridden areas in Mexico with the highest rate of kidnappings.

She was shot multiple times as she tried to escape the gunmen and died on the way to hospital.

In 2012 she provided police with information which allowed them to successfully capture her daughter’s killers, but reportedly began to receive death threats after one of the convicted gang members escaped from prison in March this year.

On one occasion she was forced to alert the federal army after Los Zetas attempted to kidnap her husband.

Mrs Rodriguez’s friends from the support group claim she had asked for protection from the police but was ignored, an allegation denied by the state which said police patrols guarded her house three times a day.

Mexico’s National Human Rights Commission (CNDH) condemned the murder of Mrs Rodriguez, claiming it was another example of the Mexican government’s failure to protect its citizens, particularly its human rights advocates who were putting themselves in danger for the good of others.

Erika Guevara Rosas, Amnesty International director for the Americas, said Mexico had become a “very dangerous place” for those who devote their time to searching for kidnapped people.

“The nightmare they face not knowing the fate or whereabouts of their relatives and the dangers they face in their work, which they perform given the negligent response from the authorities, is alarming,” she said.

According to figures released by the CNDH, the number of missing persons in Mexico rose to 30,000 last year, the majority of which are thought to be related to the cartels.

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