On December 15, 2022, under the floor of an abandoned building in Zona 18 of Guatemala City, seven bodies were found in a hidden grave. Municipal firefighters, not forensics specialists, were tasked with recovering the bones. As is the case in many violent areas of Guatemala, Public Ministry staff do not enter this area of the city.
The buried bodies, found in a green house in the Lomas de Santa Faz area, belonged to women who had been reported as missing. This act of violence, like the thousands of instances of aggression against women that take place each day, worried organizations that call upon the State to guarantee all citizens a life free of violence.
The National Forensic Sciences Institute (INACIF) confirmed the identities of the victims: Lorena Nohemí Ramírez Mayorga, 27 years old; Joselin Maeli Punay Mayorga, 15; Lidia Susana Castro López, 18; Carol Mishel Díaz Ordoñez, 17; Estefani Edith Castañeda, 15; María de Los Ángeles Cubulé Ortíz, 20; and Ángela Viviana Noj Cándido, 34.
Three were minors for whom an Alba Keneth alert had been activated, something that is done when young people go missing. An Isabel Claudina Alert had been issued for the other four women, as is done when an immediate search for disappeared women is called. The State failed all seven, as they were not found alive.
From January 1 to November 8, 2022, 1,745 Isabel Claudina Alerts were issued. In the first week of 2023, 99 Alba Keneth alerts were issued.
These seven women and the many hundreds of other missing women in Guatemala have not and will not be forgotten. They remain in the memories of their families and groups of women who meet to demand justice and that the Government find them.
On January 7, a group of women of varying ages met in Quetzaltenango’s central park. They wallpapered the streets with posters of missing women. Speeches and songs demanded justice for the seven women and others killed and missing throughout the country.
Pilar Bagur, a member of the Feminist Bloc of Women of Quetzaltenango, explained that the increased normalcy of violence is worrying.
“The fact that the authorities do nothing is worrying because they all had alerts issued when they went missing. They had six months or more to investigate where thy were, and didn’t do it. These are very violent actions related to the mafia, not just gangs and drug trafficking, but also corrupt State mafias. Thanks to this corruption, public institutions fail to function like they should,” Pilar said.
The activist says that the union, coordination, and sisterhood of women is key to take on the violence. “We all have to come together and unite with a single voice, no matter who the victim is or if we don’t even know her.”
Protesters also remembered Génesis, the first girl to die from violence in 2023. The call for justice for all girls who have been victims of sexual violence and violent deaths in Guatemala spread.