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Maquiladora Activists Find Themselves in Drug War Crossfire


He fears being identified will put his kidnapped girlfriend in even more danger, and it may also get him killed. The veteran labor activist in Tamaulipas State in Mexico said that for the last two years, he and many colleagues have had to go in hiding.

"Pues la lucha por la justicia amenaza cualquier interés."

The struggle for justice seems to threaten everybody these days, said the 35-year-old former maquiladora worker. His girlfriend was last seen eight months ago, when four men in a van took her away. He said she joins 56 others labor activists still missing, but there is no way to confirm that figure.

"Era muy querida en el mundo sindical. Desgraciadamente pues bueno, estamos un su búsqueda, no perdemos la fé."

He said she is admired in the community and they still hope to find her.

"This is a very dangerous time to raise your voice on almost any issue," said Andrew Selee, the director of the Mexico Institute at the Woodrow Wilson Center, a Washington think tank. Everyone from labor activists to political protestors risks becoming a victim.

"Sometimes they’re just targeted by lower-level members of a cartel or someone who has a gun for no real apparent reason," said Selee.

The unnamed activist with the missing girlfriend said he can’t tell anymore if he’s more afraid or more enraged. Either way, he said he’s ready to die every time he goes out the door.