Mexican activist Delia Quiroa recalls her early childhood days when she would take on challenges from her grandmother to dress up her Barbie dolls.
As Barbiemania was ready to conquer the globe ahead of last week’s premiere of Greta Gerwig’s comedy film on the iconic doll, Quiroa thought of ways to address Mexico’s ongoing epidemic of missing persons and decided to outfit the doll with a t-shirt featuring a picture of her brother, Roberto Quiroa, who disappeared in 2014.
The doll recently went on sale online for 500 Mexican pesos, about $29, to raise funds for a chapter of the Searching Mothers Collective in the northeastern state of Tamaulipas.
Delia Quiroa volunteers for the group and hopes that Mattel, the toy manufacturer, will come forward with some help that they feel the government has denied them, according to Mexican newspaper El Universal.
‘When I was a child I liked it a lot, I made clothes for them. My grandmother used to give me pieces, I have a girl and she has Barbies, seeing so much that everyone is in this frenzy, it occurred to me to dress a searcher Barbie to ask the Mattel company to see if they can help us with a donation,’ she said.
A collective of families searching for their missing loved ones is selling a Barbie that features the image of Roberto Quiroa, who was kidnapped in 2014 in Tamaulipas, Mexico. The doll is selling for about $29 to raise funds so that the Searching Mothers Collective can purchase two vehicles to transport remains that are dug out from mass graves. Quiroa’s sister, Delia Quiroa, hopes Mattel will come forward and help the group with funding
Roberto Quiroa has not been seen since he was kidnapped from his mother’s restaurant in March 2014 by members of the Gulf Cartel in Reynosa, Mexico
Quiroa said the group desperately needs help in purchasing two vehicles that are necessary to transport body parts that are dug out from mass gravesites.
The collective currently has two vans that have broken down due to batteries that no longer function and tires that have been severely punctured.
She alleges that the Tamaulipas anti kidnapping agency does not provide funding for the vehicles that are used in missions to find missing persons.
‘When remains are found, they have to be processed and the experts are in the sun and we are next to them watching. We already asked the Attorney General’s Office to send tents and they don’t want to, we asked the Search Commission and they didn’t do it either, so we opted to call on the Mattel brand,’ Quiroa said.
Delia, who founded the 10th of March Searching Mother’s Collective, said Roberto was first kidnapped in 2013 after members of the Gulf Cartel sought extortion payments to allow her mother, María Valdez, to continue to operate her own restaurant in the Tamaulipas city of Reynosa.
The family fled the town and her mother returned to sell all of her belongings.
The Barbie doll is being sold online for 500 Mexican pesos, about $29, with all profits being set aside to purchase two vehicles, tents and tables that are used in operations to search for missing people in the northeastern Mexico state of Tamaulipas
Delia Quiroa holds a Barbie doll that is outfitted with a t-shirt that shows the image of her brother, Roberto Quiroa, who was kidnapped in 2014
On September 18, 2013, Roberto was kidnapped and was released three days later after the family paid a ransom of 300,000 Mexican pesos (now about $17,700). He remained working in the restaurant despite the extortion demands from the cartel and was kidnapped again along with his mother on March 10, 2014.
While Valdez was freed after 40 days, Roberto remained in captivity.
Delia joined the police in a search mission for her brother and discovered a secret grave behind a house where bodies had been dumped.
In an August 2022 interview with Radio Formula, she and her mother said that there was a chance that Roberto’s body had been dumped in a grave site at a cemetery in the north side of Reynosa or on the grounds of a wasteland for construction materials in the southern or eastern side of the city.
Roberto, whose remains have yet to been found, is among more than 100,000 who have been abducted in Mexico since the government starting keeping stats in 1964.
Most of the kidnapping have come since the administration of former President Felipe Calderón declared war on drug cartel and organized criminal organizations in 2006.
According to non-profit organization Alto al Secuestro (Stop Kidnapping), 7,954 people have been kidnapped since President Andrés Manuel López Obrador took office in December 2018.
‘I feel sad because I never imagined that something nice from my childhood, which was dressing my dolls, would be used to dress a doll and make it different,’ Delia told El Universal.