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Mexico: Moved By Support for 43, Relatives Search For Others Missing

On a dry hillside above the now infamous city of Iguala, Mexico, 57-year-old Margarita Isidoro hacks the shrub with a machete in search of her son.

"Whether he is dead or alive, I want to find my son," said Isidoro, whose youngest, 22-year-old Orlando Catalan, went missing in April 2010 when he went out to get water, never returning.

Like Isidoro, dozens of parents have become emboldened by the international attention on the 43 disappeared college students and are hunting for children who have been missing for months or years.

Isidoro was afraid to search since she had been warned that those who took her son could come back for her or her family, but she said she is not afraid. "Now I'm ready, if they take me, they take me. I'm going to find my son."

In the past 8 years more than 22,300 people have gone missing in Mexico, according to government figures, though human rights activists think the numbers are much higher.

In Iguala, at least 10 secret graves were found during the search for the 43 missing students, spurring families to look for their own who have disappeared.

"For us, all of Iguala is a clandestine cemetery," said Claro Raul Canaan Ramirez, whose sons, 21-year-old Hiram Jafeh Canaan Avila and 24-year-old Omar Canaan Avila, disappeared Aug. 30, 2008, in Iguala.

Locals have helped families like Canaan find suspected graves. Relatives go out regularly with federal investigators into the mountains and have given DNA samples and filed reports, but many are still angry they must search for the missing themselves.

"I have a lot of fury, a lot of hatred," said Maria Ines Roman Sandoval. Since her 17-year-old son Marco Antonio Mendez Roman disappeared in April 2013, Roman has sold nearly everything she owned and has moved in with relatives to search for her son's body.

"I know his shoes. I know the shirt he was wearing. I know the pants he had on too," she says. "I am going to keep searching, I have to find answers."


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--The Associated Press