“Encontrarte”: the socio-artistic intervention that brings hope in the harsh framework of the disappearance of individuals in Chihuahua

● Encontrarte is a project that gives a voice to the families of the disappeared in Chihuahua and expresses their stories through mural art.

● 63 families have actively collaborated in community work activities carried out in the municipalities of Chihuahua, Hidalgo del Parral and Cuauhtémoc, to create more than 676 m2 of artistic intervention in nine murals.

Chihuahua, Chihuahua, September, 2021 – Encontrarte is a joint collaboration project among CEDEHM, Comex por un México Bien Hecho and Colectivo Tomate, within the framework of the USAID-funded program called “Justice for the Disappeared in Chihuahua”, which seeks to make visible the memories of the families of the victims of disappearance in the state of Chihuahua.

According to data provided by Centro de Derechos Humanos de las Mujeres (Women’s Human Rights Center – CEDEHM), up to May 2020, Chihuahua was the third entity with the highest rate of disappearances in the country. There is a particularly serious scenario in the western State Attorney General’s Office, in the city of Cuauhtémoc, where according to official records there are more than 650 disappeared individuals, mostly young men. Comparatively, this number represents a rate much higher than the national average.

As a result of this, USAID, CEDEHM, the Comex por un México Bien Hecho program and Colectivo Tomate, joined forces to carry out this project, which consisted of a socio-artistic intervention with 600 m2 of walls full of color. The stories shown were collected by the community.

“For CEDEHM, the goal of this project is to raise public awareness of the disappearances in Chihuahua, the impact on their families and the community at large, through art and community work. The group of families accompanied by CEDEHM believes that promoting enough adequate public policies for the search for the disappeared and for access to justice and comprehensive reparations, is a task that more people should support to prevent these events from continuing to happen, because we all miss disappeared individuals,” said Gabino Gómez, Coordinator of the CEDEHM disappeared individuals area.

Encontrarte was implemented in three different municipalities of the state: Cuauhtémoc, Chihuahua and Hidalgo del Parral. It began with discussions using artistic and cultural tools in the public space, fostering involvement and reflection on different messages relevant to the families of the victims of disappearance.

“With our social impact program, over the past 5 years we have seen the transformative power of color in public spaces, so we wanted to join this project to contribute our grain of sand using art and expression through murals, so that the dozens of families who are going through this unfortunate situation in Chihuahua can have one more tool to make their stories visible”, said Mai Hernández, Director of Operations of the Comex por un México Bien Hecho program.

Later, the painting process brought together art and color with citizen participation, capturing the memories of those who live in the communities that are the focus of the intervention. In the first stage, 3 264 m2 murals of artistic intervention were created in downtown Chihuahua; in the second stage, in the Centro 2 murals covering 207 m2 were created in downtown Hidalgo del Parral; and in the third and last stage, the result included a total of 4 murals spanning 205 m2 in El Mirador park in Cuauhtémoc.

Pio Diego, Julio Torres, Sara, Ana en Prosa and Terremoto are the Mexican artists who opened their hearts to listen and give a hopeful voice to the victims’s families’ stories.

“With participatory approaches, we can discuss these issues and bring hope, because in Colectivo Tomate we have found that an important element of the sense of belonging in the communities is recognizing organizational capacity, resignification and reappropriation of the public space.” Maribel Benítez, Founding Partner of Colectivo Tomate.

The public and private sectors, and civil organizations thank the families of each municipality for lending their voices to reflect the light of their memories and promote the building of bridges for collective understanding.

The U.S. Agency for International Development is the world’s leading international development agency and a catalyst for development results. USAID works to help improve lives, build communities, and promote democracy. USAID’s work promotes homeland security and economic prosperity in the United States, it displays American generosity, and promotes a path for recipients’ self-reliance and resilience.

Centro de Derechos Humanos de las Mujeres, A.C. (Women’s Human Rights Center – CEDEHM) is a civil association based in the city of Chihuahua, Chihuahua, Mexico that accompanies women and their daughters and sons in their search for justice as victims of gender violence, as well as other people who have suffered serious violations of rights, such as disappearances, human rights organizations who are at risk as a result of their work and communities forcibly displaced due to violence.

Comex por un México Bien Hecho
The México Bien Hecho social impact program is a Comex initiative that aims to improve the quality of life of people through color, intervening in public spaces, protecting and embellishing the lives of those who inhabit places, transforming them with inspiration and the art of experts or the talent of the communities themselves. With the México Bien Hecho program, Comex brings color, art and protection to vulnerable communities, offering dignified spaces that promote coexistence, collaboration and peace. Hand in hand with the community, artists, governments and strategic allies, we recover public spaces through social-artistic interventions that promote the sense of belonging and social participation of the communities.

Colectivo Tomate
A civil association that inspires to take action for transformation. Its goal is to facilitate the connection between individuals through dialogue, participation and art to build trust. Since 2009, through its Ciudad Mural (Mural City) project, it has intervened in different neighborhoods throughout Mexico. This project, in addition to creating links between the residents and visitors of the neighborhood, captures the stories that evoke the identity of the people and the community.

Media contact:

Alicia Guillén
[email protected]

Lidya Fresnedo
PPG Comex
[email protected]

Claudio Rodríguez
[email protected]

Laura Angélica Pérez
[email protected]

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Mexico is a country that suffers from a lack of social justice and in which there is still a long way to go to guarantee human rights for all people. Our work is medullary in the demand for truth, justice, and reparation. Continuing this cause is work that cannot cease and doing so requires solidarity and support. If you want to contribute to our cause, you can make your donation through PayPal.

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