Latin America

Latin America’s history of forced disappearances continues today

Originally used as an instrument of terror by repressive governments, hundreds of thousands of Latin Americans are still disappeared today

disappearances latin america
Popular protest led by the Mothers of Plaza de Mayo against house arrest to the responsables of the genocides during military dictatorship. Photo: Maria Rocio de la Torre/Shutterstock

Every year since 2011, the United Nations has observed the International Day of the Victims of Enforced Disappearances. Unlike kidnapping or human trafficking, the specific crime of “disappearance” is typically an instrument of terror, carried out by authorities such as criminal gangs, law enforcement, or even governments. The procedure remains largely unchanged, people are not imprisoned, kidnapped for ransom, or even necessarily murdered, they simply vanish without a trace, leaving their loved ones without any notion of where they may be, or what may have happened to them.

While the UN points out that the phenomenon is “not restricted...

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