Realized on assignment for the AVSI Foundation

When the first shadows of the night envelope Acapulco, crossing the street, entering a pub or taking a cab, can be very dangerous. One of the oldest beach resorts in Mexico, once known as a holiday destination for Hollywood stars and millionaires, Acapulco has recently been ranked as the second most violent city in the world with a rising number of extortions, kidnappings, and murders.

When the first shadows of the night envelope Acapulco, crossing the street, entering a pub or taking a cab, can be very dangerous. One of the oldest beach resorts in Mexico, once known as a holiday destination for Hollywood stars and millionaires, Acapulco has recently been ranked as the second most violent city in the world with a rising number of extortions, kidnappings, and murders. More than often, corrupted policemen are the ones who facilitate abductions and kidnapping for ransom. Just like violence against women forcibly taken from the streets. Flavia’s 23-year-old daughter Alejandra Magdalena Vega Domínguez disappeared on 6 October 2016. Flavia had been looking for her daughter for months, till 22 July 2017 when she was informed that a body matching the description of her daughter was found in Pradera de Costa Azul, one of the most dangerous areas in Acapulco, confirming that the cause of death was asphyxiation. The United Nations say that 4 of every 10 Mexican women will experience sexual violence, such as unwanted groping or rape, during their lifetimes, and that 9 women are murdered on average every day in the country. From the state of Guerrero to Oaxaca, corruption, uncertainty of justice and fear of violence  do not spare anyone. 

Across Mexico, almost 40.000 people are categorized as “missing” by the government. This widespread violence has claimed more than 250,000 lives since 2006. In this context, local NGOs supported by an international project promoted by the AVSI foundation and financed by the EU, are trying to change their future. 54-year-old Maria Emma Mora Liberato, still has her son’s clothes and no-one can enter what used to be his room. Jose Alberto Telles Mora disappeared on 20 September 2011 at the age of 14 years old. After 8 years, Emma was not yet able to find him and she is now the president of the NGO “Familias de Acapulco en busca de sus desaparecidos”, a civil organization run by family members of missing persons who are helping each other to find their beloved ones. Priest Jesus Mendoza helps people to fight together against their problems and he strongly believes in the importance of going to meet local communities and dialogue with them to promote social change. He celebrate mass in a humble rural congregation on the outskirts of the city, where he was transferred for his own protection, after serving for years at a church in the violent port city of Acapulco. According to the Catholic Multimedia Center (CCM), 27 priests had been killed in Mexico since 2012, making the country the most dangerous place in Latin America for priests. Despite that, father Mendoza believes that listening carefully to the pain of others, one can walk through obstacles, supporting each other, like in a family. The best antidote against the fragmentation of a civil society that is already fragile and full of open wounds. Walking down the same road, these associations are trying to generate and develope hope, so people can believe in themselves, but also in the possibility of a different future. And imagining the future, they can change the present, laying the foundations of their identity, towards a quest for peace.

QUEST FOR PEACE (2019)