‘The dead keep coming’: violence overwhelms Mexico’s morgues

In a dark, windowless room with no air conditioning in southern Mexico, thousands of bones of unidentified people encapsulate the crisis of a forensic system overwhelmed by violent crime.

The morgue in Chilpancingo in Guerrero state is full of anonymous human remains — like many others in a country struggling to process a backlog of tens of thousands of bodies.

“The dead keep coming and people keep disappearing,” said Nuvia Maestro, 36, a forensic anthropologist in Mexico City.

On social media, Maestro declares her love for her cat Clementina — her “ray of light” — as well as cycling, wine and colorful jackets.

At work, the 36-year-old uses two electric cooktops that she and her colleagues bought themselves to boil ribs to remove tissue and carry out tests to determine the age of the deceased.

“You work and work and you don’t finish!” she said.

At the Chilpancingo morgue, incense burned by employees failed to mask the stench of death — or keep the flies away.

A forensic service worker browsed handwritten records of the remains, giving a shrug of the shoulders when asked why they are not digitized to facilitate relatives’ search for the missing.


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