The Brazilian Association for the Defense of Missing Children (ABCD), known as the Mothers of the Plaza Sé (“Mães da Sé” – the name of a large, central plaza in downtown São Paulo), held a street protest recently.
The reason they gave for the march was what they see as a lack of public policy for the solution of the problem of missing people in the country.
Carrying posters with photos of missing family members, the group took over the steps in front of the Sé cathedral.
Maria de Lurdes Ramalho had a photo of her six-year old son, Carlos Alberto, who disappeared 20 years ago in the city of Mairiporã, São Paulo.
“He was in front of the house waiting for his father to come from work and just disappeared. When we looked for him he was gone, just wasn’t there anymore. Nobody saw anything, nobody knew anything about what happened. We have been looking ever since,” she said.
The president of the Child Foundation (Fundação da Criança), Ariel de Castro Alves, says one of the problems is a lack of a national registration of missing persons.
“The national registration was actually created by law in 2009, but it has never effectively gone into operation,” he explained.
“There is reluctance on the part of the police to register a person as missing as soon as he or she is reported as missing. They always want to wait 24 or 48 hours even though the law says the registration should be immediate. We know that those first hours are very important in attempts to locate missing people.”
In the state of São Paulo alone 9,000 kids disappear every year. This represents close to 25% of all disappearances in the country. According to the ABCD, only 2,700 cases are solved.
The group, in their website – http://www.maesdase.org.br/ – lists the names of those children recently disappeared, with their pictures, dates of birth and disappearance and information on the circumstances of the disappearance.