living documentary

Living documentary provides ‘digital megaphone’ for families affected by Mexico’s drug war

150,000 people have already lost their lives in the Mexican drug war. Anyone’s Child Mexico is a recently released ‘living documentary’ that seeks to draw attention to previously unheard stories from the front line.

The project is part of Anyone’s Child: Families for Safer Drug Control – an international network of families of have been affected by current drug laws and are seeking to legally regulate the drug trade. This latest project seeks to combine the forces of mothers who lost their children, with technologists from Brigstow Institute (part of the University of Bristol) to bring attention to the mothers’ plight.

Using a free phoneline set up in Mexico and connected to the site, people affected by the drug war are able to share their testimonies with the world in this continuously expanding documentary project. All the materials used in the interactive documentary have been crowdsourced by partner organisations in Mexico, creating a rich picture of what’s happening to families as a result of this war on drugs.

living documentary, Anyone's Child Mexicp

A testimony from the second chapter of Anyone’s Child Mexico

Scrolling through the four chapters, you are confronted with stories of mother’s whose children have been kidnapped or murdered, provided with contextual information about the international impact of the drug war and hear from activists who are seeking a peaceful solution. Jane Slater, spokesperson for Anyone’s Child said: “Mexico seems so far away, but these stories from the front-line of the drug war bring it closer to home. This is the first time these stories have been heard outside of Mexico. These people are the victims of a global drug war that both Mexico and the UK support and it’s wonderful that activists in the UK can use their technology to support the mothers’ calls for peace.

“These people are the victims of a global drug war that both Mexico and the UK support and it’s wonderful that activists in the UK can use their technology to support the mothers’ calls for peace”Jane Slater, Anyone's Child

“What these stories demonstrate is that there is no ‘war on drugs’. It’s ordinary people whose lives are being destroyed by our global drug war. The voices of the impacted families have spoken and our politicians must listen. We need a global approach to challenge the status quo. We must protect families. This project will hasten the end of the drug war and demonstrate why governments, not gangsters should control the drugs market.”

Also working on the project were executive producer Matthew Brown and creative technologist Ewan Cass-Kavanagh who were co-creators of Quipu; an interactive, multimedia documentary on the impact of unconsented sterilisation in Peru, which also used a dedicated free phone lines to collect testimonies from women. Anyone’s Child Mexico builds on Quipu’s methodology, providing a place for families to speak out, but also giving them the opportunity to listen to other testimonies that have already been left. The hope for this is to create an infrastructure of solidarity between families and activists across Mexico.

Ewan commented: “This platform acts as a digital megaphone for the families to share their stories as far and wide as possible, to create empathy and understanding of the horrors of the drug war. We now need policymakers, both in the UK and Mexico to listen and make change a reality, in the hope that some good can come out of these heart wrenching stories.”

Anyone’s Child Mexico has been funded by Bristol University’s Brigstow Institute as part of a new collaboration looking at using technology for social change and was produced by Transform Drug Policy Foundation. You can find out more Anyone’s Child here and experience the living documentary here.