Things That Matter

More Than 30,000 Bodies Are Filling Up Mexico’s Morgues And Nobody Is Coming To Claim Them, This Is Why

It’s no secret that Mexico has been battling increased violence across the corners of the country. From the drug war that started in 2006 to the narcos fighting it out for territory near the US-Mexico border, violence has hit Mexico hard. In fact, 2019 is on pace to be the nation’s most violent year yet with more than 14,600 homicides in the first half of the year.

All of this violence has left the nation’s morgues full of unidentified and unclaimed bodies.

The problem has become so grave that the National Human Rights Commission issued a report on the thousands of unclaimed bodies.

There are more than 30,000 unclaimed and unidentified bodies as well as an unknown number of skeletal remains in Mexico’s morgues, the National Human Rights Commission (CNDH) said on Thursday.

There is “a crisis in the area of forensic identification,” the commission said, because morgues lack the resources, staff and equipment to properly examine the bodies they receive.

Federal human rights undersecretary Alejandro Encinas said in February that Mexico is an “enormous hidden grave.” 

The CNDH said that albums of photographs should be compiled when hidden graves are excavated in order to document clothing and other items that could aid in the identification of bodies.

High homicide numbers during the past decade have contributed to the accumulation of the huge number of corpses.

Many were found in hidden graves used by criminal organizations to dispose of the bodies of their victims.

The Guadalajara morgue has left some unidentified bodies to decompose for as long as two years before autopsies were carried out. Others have buried corpses in common graves but some have faced criticism because they didn’t collect tissue samples first.

Overcrowding at morgues has forced authorities in several cities to use refrigerated trailer containers to store unidentified bodies.

Credit: Mexico News Daily

One trailer containing 157 bodies was left on a property on the outskirts of Guadalajara, Jalisco, last year, drawing the ire of local residents who complained of fetid odors. The state’s forensics chief was fired by then governor Jorge Sandoval Díaz over the case.

Adriana Michelle Álvarez Orozco, a 16-year-old who disappeared in Jalisco in November 2017, was left in the Lagos de Moreno morgue in Jalisco for almost two years without being identified.

Family members searched for the girl since her disappearance but had no luck finding her until October 12 when a woman, the mother of one of Álvarez’s friends, recognized her in a photo held by Jalisco authorities. The girl’s mother was notified and finally able to recover her body.

While a recent mass grave was found near the popular tourist destination of Puerto Peñasco.

Credit: Agencia Ministerial Investigación Criminal

A total of 42 bodies and skeletons have been pulled from a burial pit in the Mexican desert near the Gulf of California beach town of Puerto Penasco, known to U.S. tourists as Rocky Point.

The Sonora state prosecutor’s office says the clandestine pit yielded a dozen bodies last week, but digging over the weekend found another 30 sets of remains, almost all complete skeletons. The skeletons still had some clothing on them, and items of clothing suggest two may be women.

The burial pit was originally located by groups of volunteers known as the Searching Mothers of Sonora and the Searchers of Puerto Penasco. The groups are made up of relatives of missing people who investigate reports of burial sites.

The National Search Commission said in January that there are 40,180 missing people in Mexico.

The highest profile missing persons cases is the 2014 disappearance of 43 teaching students in Iguala, Guerrero.

The federal government established a truth commission to conduct a new investigation into the case and has carried out extensive search operations but Encinas said on the fifth anniversary of the students’ disappearance that there had been no “positive findings.”

Notice any needed corrections? Please email us at corrections@wearemitu.com

Mexico Wants To Be The Hub Of Latin America’s Space Industry And This Is Their Incredible Plan

Things That Matter

Mexico Wants To Be The Hub Of Latin America’s Space Industry And This Is Their Incredible Plan

Paul Hennessy/SOPA Images/Getty

Although the world is still struggling with how best to contain the Coronavirus pandemic, many governments are forging ahead with long term goals and development programs.

One of the most important to new programs to launch in Mexico is central to its economic and scientific future – its future in space. Together with other countries in Latin America and the Caribbean (some of which already have their own independent agencies), Mexico is looking to become the leader in the region when it comes to space research and exploration.

The country recently announced its intentions for just such an agency, that they hope would be based in Mexico with foreign capital providing the seed money to get the project off the ground.

Mexico announced its intention to head up a Latin American and Caribbean space agency.

Mexico has launched an ambitious new project – creating a Latin American Space and Caribbean Space Agency that would facilitate the sharing of satellite images and aims to observe the planet. The agency would be dedicated to earth observation, satellite image sharing and multi-sector dialogue.

The project was presented by Javier López Casarín, Honorary President of the Technical Council of Knowledge and Innovation of the Mexican Agency for International Cooperation for Development (AMEXCID). López Casarín attended the meeting of the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC), where he presented the project for the creation of the Latin American and Caribbean Space Agency, an entity that will be at the same level as other agencies (think NASA and the European Space Agency) of world space research with which it hopes to exchange information.

As part of the same meeting, the Latin American coordinators highlighted the role of Mexico in charge of the presidency of the community of Latin American states and appreciated the proposal to create a joint space agency.

Mexico has had a space agency of its own since 2010 but they’re looking to expand the operations.

Mexico has had its own space agency, the Agencia Espacial Mexicana, since 2010. Plus, several other countries across Latin America and the Caribbean have their own similar departments that over see satellites, information gathering, meteorological date, etc.

Mexico’s space agency has been tasked with carrying out study programs, research, and academic support, however, its duties have never included the aim of space exploration with its own infrastructure.

One of the agency’s key objectives is to help increase internet connectivity across the region.

In 2019, the Agencia Espacial Mexicana announced it was developing its space program around the needs of Mexican society – that it would be for the social benefit.

Among other techonoligcal solutions, the government has made it a core principle to help expand access to Internet across the country. By merging various space agencies into one, this increased Internet connectivity will likely spread to other countries in Latin America.

Internet connectivity rates vary from around 27% in El Salvador to close to 80% in Brazil – so bringing that wide gap is seen as critical for sustained development in the region.

Notice any needed corrections? Please email us at corrections@wearemitu.com

The Little-Known Underground Railroad That Ran South to Mexico

Culture

The Little-Known Underground Railroad That Ran South to Mexico

Tyrone Turner / Getty Images

Latinos make up the largest minority group in the country, yet our history is so frequently left out of classrooms. From Chicano communities in Texas and California to Latinos in the civil rights movement of the 1950s and 1960s and the Underground Railroad – which also had a route into Mexico – Latinos have helped shape and advance this country.

And as the U.S. is undergoing a racial reckoning around policing and systemic racism, Mexico’s route of the Underground Railroad is getting renewed attention – particularly because Mexico (for the very first time in history) has counted its Afro-Mexican population as its own category in this year’s census.

The Underground Railroad also ran south into Mexico and it’s getting renewed attention.

Most of us are familiar with stories of the Underground Railroad. It was a network of clandestine routes and safe houses established in the U.S. during the early to mid-19th century. It was used by enslaved African Americans to escape into free states and Canada. It grew steadily until the Civil War began, and by one estimate it was used by more than 100,000 enslaved people to escape bondage.

In a story reported on by the Associated Press, there is renewed interest in another route on the Underground Railroad, one that went south into Mexico. Bacha-Garza, a historian, dug into oral family histories and heard an unexpected story: ranches served as a stop on the Underground Railroad to Mexico. Across Texas and parts of Louisiana, Alabama, and Arkansas, scholars and preservation advocates are working to piece together the story of a largely forgotten part of American history: a network that helped thousands of Black slaves escape to Mexico.

According to Maria Hammack, a doctoral candidate at the University of Texas at Austin studying the passage of escapees who crossed the borderlands for sanctuary in Mexico, about 5,000 to 10,000 people broke free from bondage into the southern country. Currently, no reliable figures currently exist detailing how many left to Mexico, unlike the more prominent transit into Canada’s safe haven.

Mexico abolished slavery a generation before Abraham Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation.

Thirty-four years before Abraham Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation, in 1829, Mexican President Vicente Guerrero, who was of mixed background, including African heritage, abolished slavery in the country. The measure freed an estimated 200,000 enslaved Africans Spain forcefully brought over into what was then called New Spain and would later open a pathway for Blacks seeking freedom in the Southern U.S.

And he did so while Texas was still part of the country, in part prompting white, slave-holding immigrants to fight for independence in the Texas Revolution. Once they formed the Republic of Texas in 1836, they made slavery legal again, and it continued to be legal when Texas joined the U.S. as a state in 1845.

With the north’s popular underground railroad out of reach for many on the southern margins, Mexico was a more plausible route to freedom for these men and women.

Just like with the northern route, helping people along the route was dangerous and could land you in serious trouble.

Credit: Library of Congress / Public Domain

Much like on the railway’s northern route into Canada, anyone caught helping African-Americans fleeing slavery faced serious and severe consequences.

Slaveholders were aware that people were escaping south, and attempted to get Mexico to sign a fugitive slave treaty that would, like the Fugitive Slave Act of 1850 that demanded free states to return escapees, require Mexico to deliver those who had left. Mexico, however, refused to sign, contending that all enslaved people were free once they reached Mexican soil. Despite this, Hammock said that some Texans hired what was called “slave catchers” or “slave hunters” to illegally cross into the country, where they had no jurisdiction, to kidnap escapees.

“The organization that we know today as the Texas Rangers was born out of an organization of men that were slave hunters,” Hammack, who is currently researching how often these actions took place, told the AP. “They were bounty hunters trying to retrieve enslaved property that crossed the Rio Grande for slave owners and would get paid according to how far into Mexico the slaves were found.”

Notice any needed corrections? Please email us at corrections@wearemitu.com