The bodies of four women, all reportedly teachers and members of the same family, were found in a rural, mountainous area in northern Chihuahua state, a reminder of the dangers faced by educators in Mexico.
The bodies of the four women were found near a village in the Western Sierra Madre mountain range, reports EFE. They were reported missing on December 12, after they began traveling toward another village in order to attend a funeral. The bodies of the women, aged from 32 to 59 years old, displayed signs of torture, according to the Spanish news agency.
The state attorney general's office said officials had received reports of a roadblock set up by a criminal group on the highway where the women were traveling, on the same day that they disappeared, the AP reports.
The killings took place in the same region of Chihuahua where 11 people were recently reported killed in a single weekend.
InSight Crime Analysis
State authorities said that the women were most likely targeted not because they were teachers, but because criminals wanted to steal their car, a 2012 white Volkswagen Jetta, according to the AP. If the killings were in fact due to a carjacking, this highlights the basic insecurity along the highways in Chihuahua's Sierra Madre, and the state's inability to prevent illegal checkpoints manned by criminal groups.
However, educators have been affected by Mexico's drug violence in other ways, including being killed in targeted attacks and threatened with extortion. Last year, teachers in Acapulco went on strike after a criminal organization demanded that they pay half their salaries in extortion fees. The striking teachers forced hundreds of schools to close and eventually prompted the deployment of federal troops to the city.
Teachers have carried out similar demonstrations in the states of Michoacan and Guerrero, protesting insecurity. The reality faced by some teachers was memorably captured in a popular 2011 video, in which a teacher in Monterrey encouraged her kindergarten students to sing a song to distract them from the sound of bullets, while they crouched on the floor of the classroom.