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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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