Children in Mexico: Collateral victims of drug violence

From January to July, at least 97 children have lost their lives amidst drug-related violence in Mexico

Children in Mexico: Collateral victims of drug violence
Of the cases examined, 39 victims were under the age of 13. The youngest were Tadeo (8 months old), and three one-year-old babies - Photo: Sandra Sebastián/EFE
English 28/08/2018 13:47 Esther Sánchez Mexico City Actualizada 13:50
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On the morning of July 1, a bullet hit Sergio René’s left leg, cutting through his femoral artery. The attack was not directed to the 14-year-old; in fact, he hardly had any enemies at all. His crime: Being in the wrong place at the wrong time.

Sergio René Ortega, born in Hermosillo, Sonora, attended secondary school and enjoyed playing soccer in his time of leisure. He had the innocent gaze of a child. On the last Saturday of June, he attended a quinceañera party in the La Metalera neighborhood. Around 2:30 am on Sunday, the boy left the party and walked back home with his friends. Along the way, they saw an injured man running on the street, with one of his arms bleeding, chased by another man who carried a gun. The alleged offender -perhaps to intimidate his victim and stop him from escaping- shot his weapon, accidentally hitting Sergio’s leg.

In the shadows, Sergio René lied on the pavement; a constant stream of blood ran from his leg. When the ambulance arrived, a woman had already wrapped a rag around the wound to stop the bleeding. The boy spent 18 days in intensive care at the Children’s Hospital from the state of Sonora. During that time, he turned 15 and had his leg amputated.

The underage boy’s misfortune spread through local media and social networks. Each day, people kept up to date with his state of health, requesting blood and platelet donors, praying for God to save his life. However, the infection didn’t give in, and Sergio died on July 18.

Unfortunately, Sergio’s case is not an isolated one. A hemerographic documentation conducted by EL UNIVERSAL has shown that, from January to July of the present year, at least 97 people under the age of 18 have lost their lives in cross-fires, hit by stray bullets, shot during attacks against their families, or by falling victim to kidnapping.

It is said that the figure could be even higher, but official institutions from Mexico’s states and municipalities don’t always report on the ages of the victims on a day to day basis. To make things worse, the National Institute of Statistics and Geography (INEGI), which handles data on the number of deaths by murder, has not yet issued the corresponding report this year.

The list of 97 minors, collateral victims of the violence that has struck the country, does not include those who lost their lives at the hands of their caretakers, nor those who died in accidents or sexual assaults.

Of the cases examined, 39 victims were under the age of 13. The youngest were Tadeo (8 months old), and three one-year-old babies.

Both state and local governments lend their support to the families of collateral victims through coverage of funeral expenses, among other things, but there are very few people who turn to them for help, fearing corruption and false accusations against the victims when looking for justice.

The law in Mexico doesn’t exceptionally condemn the murder of children, which is why, according to specialists, minors will continue to suffer the consequences of the war against drug cartels and organized crime.


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