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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Mexican President Criticizes DEA For Role In Former Army Chief’s Arrest

Things That Matter

Mexican President Criticizes DEA For Role In Former Army Chief’s Arrest

Hector Vivas / Getty Images

President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador criticized the historic role of the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration in Mexico after a former Mexican army chief was arrested Thursday in Los Angeles on drug charges at the request of the DEA.

The former Mexican Defense Minister was arrested by the DEA on drug charges.

Salvador Cienfuegos Zepedas was the secretary of National Defense in the government of President Enrique Peña Nieto from 2012 to 2018. President Lopez Obrador claims that the arrest is proof of corruption from past governments.

President Lopez Obrador used the arrest to criticize the U.S. government and the DEA.

President Lopez Obrador, speaking at a press conference in Oaxaca, claimed that there is a double standard. While Cienfuegos Zepedas has been arrested by the DEA, the president claims U.S. officials have not been held accountable for trafficking arms into Mexico to track them to the cartels. According to the president, Mexican officials are being held at a higher and harsher standard than U.S. officials.

“Why is it that it’s just the people in Mexico who took part in these acts being accused or implicated, and (the DEA) aren’t criticizing themselves, reflecting on the meddling by all these agencies in Mexico,” Lopez Obrador said at the press conference. “They came into the country with complete freedom, they did whatever they wanted.”

The former defense minister’s arrest sent shockwaves through Mexico.

Cienfuegos Zepedas was the first high-ranking Mexican military official to be arrested in the U.S. with drug-related corruption. He was arrested at the Los Angeles International Airport and will be facing drug and money-laundering charges. It’s been less than a year since Genaro Garcia Luna was charged with taking bribes from the Sinaloa drug cartel led by Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman.

President Lopez Obrador wants to protect the military’s reputation.

Lopez Obrador also said he hopes that the armed forces aren’t blamed for this scandal and that Mexico must take care of institutions as important as the Secretary of National Defense. Mexico does not currently have an ongoing investigation of the retired general and will await the result of the U.S. investigation, according to the president of Mexico. 

Cienfuegos Zepedas is due to make a court appearance related to four charges in California on Friday, Oct. 23, 2020.

READ: This Is What Mexico’s AMLO Wants From The Pope For The Churches Crimes Against Indigenous Mexicans

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Showtime’s ‘Bad Hombres’ Is A Documentary Highlighting The World’s Only Binational Baseball Team

Entertainment

Showtime’s ‘Bad Hombres’ Is A Documentary Highlighting The World’s Only Binational Baseball Team

tecolotes_2_laredos / Instagram

Sports have a way of bringing people together. The experience of rooting for your team is a unifying feeling that transcends borders and culture. Showtime is exploring the importance of sports through the lens of the Tecolotes de los Dos Laredos.

“Bad Hombres” is a documentary highlighting immigration under President Trump through baseball.

Tecolotes de los Dos Laredos are the only binational professional baseball team in the world. The team splits their home games between stadiums in Laredo, Texas and Nuevo Laredo, Mexico. Director Andrew Glazer wanted to highlight the immigration issue through a sports lens to offer a different layer to the narrative.

“Most of the people trying to come into the U.S. are families and children trying to escape horrible violence in Central America,” Glazer told CBS Local’s DJ Sixsmith. “That story has been told, so what I wanted to do was show people in a way that I thought would be relatable to what life is like on the border. What life is like on those two sides and how interconnected they are. The thing that struck me to be honest is that initially in Laredo, Texas was how pervasive Spanish is spoken.”

The documentary shows the struggles of the baseball team trying to make sense of the volatile U.S.-Mexico border relations.

The Tecolotes de los Dos Laredos split time playing their home games between two stadiums in the U.S. and Mexico. The Trump administration’s constant battle with Mexico and threats to close the border put the team’s season in jeopardy. A first look teaser shows team managers trying to coordinate the release of game tickets in time with the ever-changing immigration announcements from the Trump administration.

“Bad Hombres” speaks politics without directly addressing politics.

“Even though my film has an overarching political message, the players are not covertly or overtly political in any way,” Glazer told CBS Local’s DJ Sixsmith. “They are baseball players and they are living their lives and a lot of them are trying to make it to the majors and some of them were in the majors and are now finishing their careers. There wasn’t a whole lot of political discussions.”

Glazer made sure to highlight the depths and complexities of the team members dealing with the political climate without politics.

“Inherently, what made the team fascinating is you had players from the U.S. who were Anglo-American players and Mexican American players who had a different perspective,” Glazer told DJ Sixsmith. “Then you had Mexican players and some Dominican players and Cuban and people from everywhere else. There were different languages and different perspectives. Seeing how that developed over time was pretty fascinating.”

“Bad Hombres” is streaming on Showtime.

READ: Veronica Alvarez Is The Coach For The Oakland A’s And Her Presence Is Giving Girls A Chance To Pursue Baseball

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