Tita is vice-president of the the Association of Relatives of the Detained-Disappeared in Mexico (AFADEM), based in Atoyac de Alvarez, in Guerrero State, Mexico.  For more than 35 years, Tita Radilla has been pursuing justice for the relatives of Mexico’s “disappeared”.

In Atoyac alone, 600 people were forcibly disappeared during the period of Mexico’s ‘dirty war’, in which social organisations and communities became victims of repression, and hundreds of people were tortured or disappeared. 
Tita’s father disappeared after he was stopped at a military checkpoint in 1974.

In an unprecedented landmark ruling in December 2009, the Inter-American Court of Human Rights (IACHR) of the Organisation of American States (OAS) condemned the Mexican government for Radilla’s forced disappearance. In its defence, the government claimed it could not be held responsible for crimes committed 35 years previously. However, the Court ruled that because the government has continually failed to investigate Radilla’s disappearance, the crime is ongoing and cannot be relegated to the past. And for his family, no closure is possible given that Rosendo Radilla is still missing.

Crucially, the Court recognised Radilla’s disappearance within the context of systematic human rights abuses against the civilian population, observing that these constitute crimes against humanity. It has ordered Mexico, as a signatory of the American Convention on Human Rights, to reform the military code which guarantees impunity to military personnel and to investigate the circumstances of Radilla’s disappearance after he was detained by soldiers at a military checkpoint in 1974.

PBI has accompanied Tita since 2003
""They’ve done excavations and they haven’t found anything. Why? Because the investigation isn’t adequate." Tita Radilla
"The families end up searching for and finding their disappeared relatives It just shouldn’t happen like that. It is the State’s obligation to search for them and find them." Tita Radilla
The IACHR’s important and symbolic decision is thus testimony to the determination and persistence of Tita Radilla and human rights organisations like AFADEM and the CMDPDH and an illustration of the power of popular activism and organising to salvage this brutal episode in Mexico’s recent past from the margins of history.
"Article 1 of the Constitution used to be “Individual Guarantees”, but now it is “Human rights and Guarantees” which has been derived precisely from this sentence." Tita Radilla
Such a high-profile legal ruling has additional ramifications in the sense that an investigation into Radilla’s abduction will inevitably mean scrutinising the historical context and circumstances within which it occurred, potentially opening new ground in exposing the dirty war against the civilian population in the 1970s and 1980s, a question of greater magnitude than that of one, although important, disappearance.

Despite this victory, which Tita fought for on behalf of all civilian victims of abuses perpetrated by soldiers, Tita has never been given the satisfaction of knowing the truth about her father or his whereabouts. Exhumations of possible clandestine graves continue, as do the anonymous threats warning her to let the past lie.
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