“Volverte a Ver,” A Documentary Following Mexican Mums Digging for the Truth

By Jeffrey Sippe and Nina Rodriguez 

“Volverte a Ver” (To See You Again), directed by Carolina Corral, is a documentary that details one of the most egregious and infuriating derelictions of duty on the part of Mexican officials in the past decade.

The film focuses on a group of mothers who are searching for their children, their siblings, and their friends who simply disappeared off the face of the earth. In their quest to learn the fates of their loved ones the women discover the existence of a huge and secret burial pit where the government in Morelos—with the approval of the state attorney general, the former mayor and now representative, and the state governor—has dumped both identified and unidentified bodies. Just about everything about the burials is in direct violation of laws and official procedures, not to mention simple human decency.

One of the most astounding clips is an interview with the governor of Morelos who claims that the mass burial took place because the families did not show up to claim the bodies. He says, however, that the bodies in the pit have been identified which is not true. So were the families of these “identified” corpses notified? Apparently not.

The state’s original claim was that 35 bodies were buried in the pit supposedly all at once. Yet there are various layers of the pit in which bodies are found, clearly indicating that the inhumations took place at different times. In the end up to 100 bodies were found in the mass grave. And it turned out not to be the only one. 

The women whom the film focuses on remain incredibly dispassionate as they learn of the legalities of the burials, all of which have been ignored. Identification of the bodies and the cause of death are central to the government’s role. Clothes and property of the corpses are supposed to be separated from the bodies and kept for identification purposes. However, many bodies were found clothed, a clear indication that no autopsy was performed. In many—if not most—cases property retrieved was simply tossed in the garbage. One body of a woman with her hands and feet bound was excavated. Another female body, with an apparent knife wound in her thorax, had her cause of death listed as “undetermined.”

The film itself duplicates the dispassionate approach of the women searching for their lost family members. And, indeed, there is very little reason not to be dispassionate. The bare facts alone are provocative enough to disgust any viewer of any age and any nationality. There is no sensationalism here. The film is a memorialization of people whose lives have been entirely upended by official behavior that can only be described as barbaric.

The only ones depicted in this film who display any level of dignity are the women who have not seen their children, siblings, and other loved ones for years but appear to have finally discovered their resting place, wholly determined by the government.

In terms of filmmaking, “Volverte a Ver” is a straightforward depiction of the unfolding of what is truly a horrific situation in which the government has simply attributed unsolved deaths to the cartels and washed its hands. Those hands, however, are still very dirty.

“Volverte a Ver” is being released in cinemas nationwide this weekend and is screening at Compartimento Cinematográfico in San Miguel de Allende.