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Updated Wednesday, November 14, 2012 at 10:45 AM

Tortilla-wrapper ads used to aid search for the missing in Mexico

By RICARDO CHAVEZ
The Associated Press

CIUDAD JUÁREZ, Mexico — A border state in northern Mexico has launched a campaign it hopes will be more effective than photos on milk cartons to help find missing women and children: It's using advertisements on tortilla wrappers.

At least three dozen tortilla shops have joined in the Chihuahua state campaign to print appeals for help on the thin paper wrappers that shopkeepers use to wrap up a pound or two of hot tortillas at a time.

"The disappearances in Juarez have to disappear," the ads read. They are accompanied by photos of "disappeared" people: a woman's bodiless clothing walks down a street appearing to hold a shopping bag; a little girl's shoes and socks stand on a curbside.

The wrappers include a phone number for reporting disappearances or sightings of missing people.

The campaign started this week, and has been welcomed by shopkeepers and customers in the violence-wracked border city of Ciudad Juárez, which is across from El Paso, Texas.

Ciudad Juárez was hit by a series of eerily similar kidnap-killings of more than 100 mainly young women beginning in 1993.

While those cases have tapered off, killings and disappearances continue.

A customer at the tortilla shop, who also didn't want her identity revealed, said the campaign could help.

"A lot of people don't have any way to watch TV or read the newspapers, they don't see the news, so this way they would at least know who to call or what to do in the case of a disappearance," she said.

Silvia Najera, spokeswoman for the Chihuahua state special prosecutor's office for crimes against women, said a total of 341 women had been officially reported missing since 1995. Of those, 316 have been found either dead or alive, while 25 cases remain open.

Women's rights activist Vicky Caraveo said she believes the women's killings of the 1990s and early 2000s haven't ended. Caraveo said women matching the same profile of those earlier victims continue to disappear.



Above: Esperanza Lozoya sells tortillas Tuesday packaged in wrappers that ask for help finding missing women and children in the northern border city of Ciudad Juárez, Mexico.





The ads appealing for help appear on the thin paper that shopkeepers use to wrap hot tortillas.




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