Across Mexico, more than 37,400 people have been categorized as ‘missing’ by official sources. The vast majority of those are believed to be dead—victims of ongoing violence that has claimed more than 250,000 lives since 2006.
These disappearances are the source of lasting psychological trauma for families left behind. The violence has its roots in the war on Mexico’s powerful drugs cartels instigated by President Felipe Calderón during his 2006–2012 term of office, and continued by his successor, Enrique Peña Nieto. The ensuing violence has led to a catastrophic rise in murder rates and in the number of unsolved disappearances, which is aided by corruption and impunity.
President Nieto promised an end to violence, but although homicides declined, authorities seemed unable to restore the rule of law or make much progress in the struggle against cartels. Among the states most affected are Sinaloa and Guerrero, which was included in a list of no-travel zones by the US government in 2018.
In 2013, with one of Yael Martínez's brothers-in-law killed and another two disappearing, he began documenting the resultant psychological and emotional fracture in his own family and in the families of other missing people to deliver a personal account of the despair and sense of absence that accrues over time.
The House the Bleeds was exhibited at our 2nd Annual Latin American Foto Festival. The book is published by KWY Editions.