Mexico's controversial memorial for drug war victims

The memorial features 64 rusted steel panels bearing quotes from famous writers and thinkers

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A controversial memorial has been unveiled in Mexico to commemorate the tens of thousands of people killed during the brutal drug war.

The massive structure is divided into several steel walls, which feature poems and quotes from famous writers but have no names of victims.

It is located next to Mexico City's renowned Chapultepec Park.

But the monument has been rejected by some relatives of the dead and missing, who do not feel represented.

"This memorial remembers not only those who are gone, but also those who are still here," said Alejandro Marti, the founder of Mexico's SOS group, whose teenage son was kidnapped and murdered in 2008.

"This memorial should symbolise a common struggle for all Mexicans to avoid another Fernando, another Hugo Alberto, another Juan Francisco," he added, referring to other victims of the drug war.

Mexican Interior Minister Miguel Angel Osorio Chong, also speaking at the inauguration ceremony, said the country needed to turn the years of violence and pain into positive, generous and productive action.

Man walks past the controversial memorial Officials say no list of the dead exists, but some families feel the memorial does not represent them

"The victims of the violence are not numbers. They are stories. They are a pending agenda for the government and for all of society," he said.

Military base

At a cost of $2.4m (£1.6m; 1.9m euros), the 13,846-sq-m memorial was built with funds seized from drug cartels.

But a prominent opponent of the drug war, Mexican poet Javier Sicilia, declined to take part in the ceremony.

Mr Sicilia, whose son was kidnapped and killed in 2011, said members of his Movement for Peace with Justice and Dignity did not feel represented by the memorial.

He objects to the fact that it is located next to a military base and does not include names of the dead and disappeared.

Officially the memorial has no names because no list of the dead exists, although there is room to add them.

Mr Sicilia has called for the "Tower of Light", an existing monument built for the bicentennial of Mexico's independence, to be turned into a "Tower of Peace", in memory of the victims of the drug war.

Some 70,000 people have died in drug-related violence in Mexico in the past seven years, and many more remain unaccounted for.

President Enrique Pena Nieto, who took office in December last year, has vowed to quell the violence.

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