Things That Matter

President AMLO Just Released New Figures Detailing The Country’s Missing People And It’s Worse Than Previously Thought

New data directly from the government shows that previous estimates of Mexico’s disappeared were grossly under counted. Under President AMLO, the country’s National Search Commission has released updated figures that say there are more than 61,000 missing persons in Mexico – the vast majority of whom (almost one third) went missing just since 2006.

The Drug War has fueled the disappearances as cartels fight for control over important drug trafficking routes against increased scrutiny from the military.

The government said 61,637 people have disappeared since 1964, the vast majority since 2006, when then-president Felipe Calderón began cracking down on drug cartels.

More than 61,000 people have been forcibly disappeared in Mexico in recent years, government officials announced on Monday, a drastic increase of an earlier estimate of the toll of the country’s endemic drug-related violence and cartel warfare.

More than 97.4 percent of the total have gone missing since 2006, when then-President Felipe Calderon sent the army to the streets to fight drug traffickers, fragmenting the cartels and leading to vicious internal fighting. 

“These are data of horror,” Karla Quintana, head of Mexico’s National Search Commission which leads the efforts to find the missing country wide, said in a news conference. Behind the numbers, “there are many painful stories from families both in Mexico and of migrants,” she said.

Ms. Quintana said the new data comes from updated and carefully revised information from the offices of local prosecutors.

The new figures showed a sharp increase from a prior official estimate of 40,000 disappearances from early 2018.

The government announcement differed from those of past administrations, which often played down the issue of drug violence and offered little details about the extent of the issue.

More than half of the overall reported cases were of young people between 15 and 34 years old, 74 percent of whom were men, officials said. Mexican officials said most disappearances have taken place in 10 different states in swaths of the country with a heavy presence of drug cartels.

In Mexico, the number cases of disappeared people surged more recently amid raging violence as drug cartels battled each other over territory and trafficking routes.

As Mexican security forces were deployed to the streets to confront the ever-growing power of organized crime groups, criminals began implementing a highly efficient and vicious strategy: disposing bodies and tossing them into graves in desolate areas, rivers and mountains, to leave no evidence behind.

Last year alone, during the first year of leftist government of President Andrés Manuel López Obrador, more than 9,000 people were forcibly disappeared.

AMLO has adopted a policy of “hugs, not bullets” in dealing with violent crime, focussing on addressing inequality and tackling corruption, but the death toll has continued to climb.

The López Obrador government has faced criticism that it lacks an adequate security strategy to deal with the country’s rampant violence, underscored by recent cases like the siege of the city of Culiacán by the Sinaloa cartel and the massacre of nine members of a Mormon sect in northern Mexico last fall.

Almost a third of the total number of missing persons – 19,108 – disappeared between 2016 and 2018, the final three years of the Enrique Peña Nieto government.

More than 500 field searches across Mexico led to the discovery of 800 clandestine graves and the unearthing of 1,124 bodies.

The official said that between December 1, 2018 and December 31, 2019, authorities have carried out searches for hidden graves at 519 different locations across practically all of Mexico’s 32 federal entities. In February last year, Encinas described the country as a whole as an “enormous hidden grave.”

He said on Monday that the federal government will extend an invitation to the United Nations Committee on Enforced Disappearances to have its members visit Mexico this year.

The government was criticized last month for failing to keep its promise to allow the committee to visit the country and thus open up Mexico’s investigative processes to international scrutiny.

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Mexico City Could Soon Change Its Name To Better Embrace Its Indigenous Identity

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Mexico City Could Soon Change Its Name To Better Embrace Its Indigenous Identity

PEDRO PARDO/AFP via Getty Images

Mexico City is the oldest surviving capital city in all of the Americas. It also is one of only two that actually served as capitals of their Indigenous communities – the other being Quito, Ecuador. But much of that incredible history is washed over in history books, tourism advertisements, and the everyday hustle and bustle of a city of 21 million people.

Recently, city residents voted on a non-binding resolution that could see the city’s name changed back to it’s pre-Hispanic origin to help shine a light on its rich Indigenous history.

Mexico City could soon be renamed in honor of its pre-Hispanic identity.

A recent poll shows that 54% of chilangos (as residents of Mexico City are called) are in favor of changing the city’s official name from Ciudad de México to México-Tenochtitlán. In contrast, 42% of respondents said they didn’t support a name change while 4% said they they didn’t know.

Conducted earlier this month as Mexico City gears up to mark the 500th anniversary of the fall of the Aztec empire capital with a series of cultural events, the poll also asked respondents if they identified more as Mexicas, as Aztec people were also known, Spanish or mestizo (mixed indigenous and Spanish blood).

Mestizo was the most popular response, with 55% of respondents saying they identified as such while 37% saw themselves more as Mexicas. Only 4% identified as Spaniards and the same percentage said they didn’t know with whom they identified most.

The poll also touched on the city’s history.

The ancient city of Tenochtitlán.

The same poll also asked people if they thought that the 500th anniversary of the Spanish conquest of Tenochtitlán by Spanish conquistadoresshould be commemorated or forgotten, 80% chose the former option while just 16% opted for the latter.

Three-quarters of respondents said they preferred areas of the the capital where colonial-era architecture predominates, such as the historic center, while 24% said that they favored zones with modern architecture.

There are also numerous examples of pre-Hispanic architecture in Mexico City including the Templo Mayor, Tlatelolco and Cuicuilco archaeological sites.

Tenochtitlán was one of the world’s most advanced cities when the Spanish arrived.

Tenochtitlán, which means “place where prickly pears abound” in Náhuatl, was founded by the Mexica people in 1325 on an island located on Lake Texcoco. The legend goes that they decided to build a city on the island because they saw the omen they were seeking: an eagle devouring a snake while perched on a nopal.

At its peak, it was the largest city in the pre-Columbian Americas. It subsequently became a cabecera of the Viceroyalty of New Spain. Today, the ruins of Tenochtitlán are in the historic center of the Mexican capital. The World Heritage Site of Xochimilco contains what remains of the geography (water, boats, floating gardens) of the Mexica capital.

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Mexico Plunges 23 Places On The World Happiness Report As The Country Struggles To Bounce Back

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Mexico Plunges 23 Places On The World Happiness Report As The Country Struggles To Bounce Back

Hector Vivas/Getty Images

When it comes to international happiness rankings, Mexico has long done well in many measurements. In fact, in 2019, Mexico placed number 23 beating out every other Latin American country except for Costa Rica. But in 2020, things looks a lot different as the country slipped 23 spots on the list. What does this mean for Mexico and its residents? 

Mexico slips 23 spots on the World Happiness Report thanks to a variety of compelling factors.

Mexico plummeted 23 places to the 46th happiest nation in the world, according to the 2020 happiness rankings in the latest edition of the United Nations’ World Happiness Report. The coronavirus pandemic had a significant impact on Mexicans’ happiness in 2020, the new report indicates.

“Covid-19 has shaken, taken, and reshaped lives everywhere,” the report noted, and that is especially true in Mexico, where almost 200,000 people have lost their lives to the disease and millions lost their jobs last year as the economy recorded its worst downturn since the Great Depression.

Based on results of the Gallup World Poll as well as an analysis of data related to the happiness impacts of Covid-19, Mexico’s score on the World Happiness Report index was 5.96, an 8% slump compared to its average score between 2017 and 2019 when its average ranking was 23rd.

The only nations that dropped more than Mexico – the worst country to be in during the pandemic, according to an analysis by the Bloomberg news agency – were El Salvador, the Philippines and Benin.

Mexico has struggled especially hard against the Coronavirus pandemic. 

Since the pandemic started, Mexico has fared far worse than many other countries across Latin America. Today, there are reports that Mexico has been undercounting and underreporting both the number of confirmed cases and the number of deaths. Given this reality, the country is 2nd worst in the world when it comes to number of suspected deaths, with more than 200,000 people dead. 

Could the happiness level have an impact on this year’s elections?

Given that Mexico’s decline in the rankings appears related to the severity of the coronavirus pandemic here, one might assume that the popularity of the federal government – which has been widely condemned for its management of the crisis from both a health and economic perspective – would take a hit.

But a poll published earlier this month found that 55.9% of respondents approved of President López Obrador’s management of the pandemic and 44% indicated that they would vote for the ruling Morena party if the election for federal deputies were held the day they were polled.

Support for Morena, which apparently got a shot in the arm from the national vaccination program even as it proceeded slowly, was more than four times higher than that for the two main opposition parties, the PAN and the PRI.

Still, Mexico’s slide in the happiness rankings could give López Obrador – who has claimed that ordinary Mexicans are happier with him in office – pause for thought.

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