Mexico’s Dirty War

Talk Friday 30th October, 2009

In July the Inter-American Court of Human Rights heard the first ever case of forced disappearance to be brought against the government of Mexico. The case was that of Rosendo Radilla Pacheco, a respected community leader who disappeared after being detained by soldiers in 1974 in Guerrero state.
In 1974, Rosendo Radilla Pacheco disappeared at a military checkpoint in southern Mexico. As a prominent activist and mayor, Rosendo fought for access to health and education in Atoyac in the state of Guerrero – a region historically plagued by hardship and neglected by authorities.

Rosendo Radilla’s forced disappearance is one of 1,200 registered cases from Mexico’s "Dirty War", almost half of which took place in Atoyac. During the Dirty War period, the authoritarian Mexican government tried to extinguish social justice movements through the army, targetting many innocent civilians and leading to systematic human rights violations that to this day have not been prosecuted. The film tells the stories of Radilla’s daughter, Tita, and other relatives of the disappeared. They are seeking truth about the past to that justice can be possible in the future.
"This didn’t just happen a long time ago. It continues. Because if the families don’t know what happened, where they are, or where they are buried, the crime continues.” (Santiago Corcuera, UN Working Group on Forced Disappearances)

Tita Radilla Martinez, daughter of Rosendo Radilla and vice-president of the  Mexican Association of Relatives of the Detained and Disappeared (AFADEM).
Mike Tamblyn, coordinator of Peace Brigades International (PBI) in Mexico, which accompanies Ms Radilla for her protection.
Chair: Elizabeth Mistry (freelance journalist), Elizabeth has covered events in Latin America, specialising in Mexico, for almost 15 years. She was the Sunday Herald’s correspondent in Mexico, the stringer for the Independent and has also written for the Telegraph and the Times, Reforma, El Universal and the Miami Herald. Prior to joining the Mexico City Times she worked for a Mexico City-based human rights NGO. She is now based in the UK.
Peace Brigades International is an international human rights charity whose volunteers provide protective accompaniment to local human rights defenders living in areas of conflict. For more information visit