The last time Roberto Galván heard of his son was on Jan. 25 this year.
That day, his 34 year-old son, also named Roberto, was relaxing in the central square of General Terán, a small town in the state of Nuevo León, when a group of state police officers arrested and took him to an unknown place.
Since then, Galván has been looking for his son in all the possible places. As many other parents of people who have disappeared, Galván has become an investigator. He has collected testimonies from people who saw the officers taking his son, he has interrogated police officers and he has obtained a lot of evasive responses from the local authorities.
Galván is one of the many parents who have joined Javier Sicilia, the man who heads the Caravan for Peace with Justice and Dignity that arrived yesterday to Ciudad Juárez.
Sicilia, a poet and journalist, has been traveling through the country heading a national movement that demands justice and an end to the government-led war against drugs. He started the movement after his son was brutally killed March 28 in the city of Cuernavaca, Morelos.
“When I met Sicilia I told him: ‘le dieron en la madre a mi hijo igual que al tuyo’ (they screwed up my son the same way they screwed yours)…and the third time that I told him the same, he gave me a hug and we cried together,” told me Galván while we were waiting for the beginning of the Caravan’s first demonstration of the day at the cotton field in Juárez this morning.
After his son’s disappearance, Galván abandoned his job as an entrepreneur and decided to devote himself exclusively to find him. He has been moving with the Caravan since June 4, where he has met many desperate parents just like him in states such as Michoacán, San Luis Potosí, Coahuila, Zacatecas, Mexico City and now Chihuahua.
“I decided to leave everything because this is really important. It is not just the loss of my son…it is the loss of all of our children,” he said. “Our country is falling to pieces and if we don’t stop it, we are going to lose it.”
Sicilia has brought some hope to hundreds of people who have lost relatives or friends during the five years of the government’s drug war. Today, he was saluted by the parents of dozens of women who have been killed or have been missing for months or even years. All of them share the pain and mourn for their loved ones.
In Galvan’s case, he is determined to follow up with the commitments that the authorities of the state of Nuevo León made with the members of the Caravan last Wednesday, which included an investigation of the cases of eight missing people, including his son Roberto.
“We should have a preliminary report on these cases in eight days, and later on, in 30 days, they should give us a complete report on what happened to these people. If we don’t get it, we will put more pressure on them,” he said.
In his speech this morning, Sicilia said that the pain shouln’t become a wall of woes. On the contrary, he said, it should be the seed for something different. He and the civic organizations integrating the Caravan will sign an agreement this evening demanding the end of the drug war and a more integral strategy to fight organized crime.
Tomorrow, Sicilia and the Caravan will be in El Paso.