She died in the northern city of Monterrey after several years of failing health.
Ibarra’s son, Jesus Piedra, belonged to an armed communist group and disappeared, apparently at the hands of the authorities, after being accused of killing a policeman.
Ibarra founded the Eureka Committee, a movement demanding information on the fate of her son and other missing persons, although her case was never fully clarified.
She was the first woman to appear on a Mexican presidential ballot in 1982, although she won relatively few votes for the Revolutionary Workers’ Party. She was twice a member of Parliament and once a senator.
“We will always remember her deepest love for children and her solidarity with those who suffered because of the disappearance of their loved ones,” tweeted President Andrés Manuel López Obrador, whom she considered a friend.
Yet even under López Obrador’s administration, in 2019 she refused an honor voted by the Senate, saying she would only accept it when Mexico learned the truth about her missing, who now number nearly 100,000. – 98% of them from 2006, during an era of cartel violence rather than “dirty war” politics.
“I don’t want my fight to be unfinished”, she said then in a text read by her daughter because her health prevented her from presenting herself.
Referring to the President, she added, “I leave in your hands the custody of such precious gratitude and ask that you return it to me with the truth about the fate of our loved and missed children and parents.”
His demands for information for decades – as well as amnesty for political prisoners – have taken the form of marches, hunger strikes, visits to military prisons and United Nations offices and have made she a widely respected figure on the left.
When López Obrador alleged fraud in the 2006 presidential election which he narrowly lost, he chose Ibarra to present him with a presidential sash in a ceremony declaring him “legitimate president”.
After his universally recognized victory in 2018, Ibarra urged him in his message to the Senate “not to allow the violence and evil of previous governments to continue to lurk.”
She lamented that enforced disappearances continue in Mexico and once again called for progress:
“The families of Eureka continue today as they did a few years ago,” she said in the letter read by her daughter. “The open wound will only stop bleeding when we know where our (loved ones) are.”