Mexico’s disappeared continues to rise

September 30, 2013

shutterstock_24590917Al Jazeera , 9/29/2013

Mexico’s mountain of unsolved disappearances continues to rise despite President Enrique Pena Nieto’s promise to tackle the problem which has devastated thousands of families since 2006. The disappearance of four people within six days close to the US border recently exposed the cruel mix of state corruption and organised crime still blighting the lives ordinary folks on Mexico’s mean streets.

“Mexico today has the worst crisis of disappearances in Latin America, arguably the world,” Nik Steinberg, senior researcher at Human Rights Watch, told Al Jazeera. “That there is still no single unified definition and many state authorities have no idea how to investigate disappearances shows the government has failed to take the problem seriously.”

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Mexico creates task force to search for the missing

May 29, 2013

IMG_7139Los Angeles Times, 5/27/2013

Responding to anguished families and mothers on a hunger strike, the government of President Enrique Peña Nieto on Monday created an investigative task force to search for thousands of missing Mexicans. The new effort comes as officials attempt to whittle down a list of more than 26,000 people who were reported missing — many seized by drug traffickers or by state security forces — during the previous six-year government of President Felipe Calderon.

“This will not be a forgotten issue,” Interior Minister Miguel Angel Osorio Chong said in assigning 12 investigators to the task force and setting up a single clearinghouse for missing persons reports. Until now, families of the missing have had to go state to state, morgue to morgue, jail to jail, in search of vanished relatives, with little support from authorities. “Having suffered the terrible drama of losing a loved one, [families] had to suffer the search … the terrible challenge of the bureaucratic maze,” Atty. Gen. Jesus Murillo Karam said. “Today we want to destroy that bureaucratic maze.”

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Mexico to create special police unit to search for the missing

May 20, 2013

Policia MexicoAssociated Press, 5/17/2013

Mexico’s government says it will create a special investigative unit to search for the missing, heeding a request by relatives of the disappeared who have been on a hunger strike for nine days. Attorney General Jesus Murillo Karam made the announcement Friday after meeting with a group of parents who have been on a hunger strike and living in tents outside his office.

Murillo Karam says the special unit will guarantee that the same investigators and forensic experts remain on the cases until they are completed. He said more details about the new unit will be made public in a week. President Enrique Pena Nieto’s government has said it has a database containing the names of least 26,121 people who went missing during his predecessor’s six-year administration.

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Mexico activists, government quarrel over how to grieve for drug violence victims

April 8, 2013

Mexico CityAssociated Press, 4/5/13

Mexico, a country suffering the turmoil of a drug war, can’t agree on how to honor the victims of a six-year assault on organized crime that has taken as many as 70,000 lives. The government’s official monument was dedicated Friday, four months after its completion, in a public event where relatives of the missing chased after the dignitaries in tears, pleading for help in finding their loved ones.

Only some victims’ rights groups recognize the monument, while others picked an entirely different monument to place handkerchiefs painted with names and personal messages in protest of the official site, which does not bear a single victim’s name.

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Weekly News Summary: February 22

February 22, 2013

Coffee by Flikr user samrevelThe Mexico Institute’s “Weekly News Summary,” released every Friday afternoon, summarizes the week’s most prominent Mexico headlines published in the English-language press, as well as the most engaging opinion pieces by Mexican columnists.

What the English-language press had to say…

This week, auto defensa vigilante groups in the state of Guerrero released the last of the 42 alleged criminals they had kept hostage for almost two months, avoiding a showdown with government authorities. The leader of one such group reported the first casualty since the movement began in early January. Human Rights Watch released a scathing report blaming Mexico’s police and military forces of involvement in several dozen missing person cases. The government pledged to address the issue by, among other things, collecting DNA samples from the families of the disappeared in an effort to match missing persons’ reports with thousands of unidentified corpses found in recent years. In Tamaulipas, an anonymous Facebook and Twitter campaign continued to attract thousands of followers eager to receive unofficial updates on organized crime. International observers drew attention to the lack of safety that journalists working in Mexico face.

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Mexico Counts Missing on Day of the Disappeared

August 30, 2011

InSight Crime, 8/30/11

As the world marks the International Day of the Disappeared, Mexico counts more than 3,000 people who have disappeared since 2006, when President Calderon began his assault on organized crime.

Since 2006, the United Nations estimates that 3,000 people have disappeared in Mexico, a figure which includes at least 32 human rights advocates. Mexican investigative magazine Contralinea reports that there have been 300 percent more disappearances in the last four years than during the entirety of Mexico’s “Guerra Sucia” (dirty war) of the 1960s and 1970s. The country’s foremost human rights body, the National Commission on Human Rights (CNDH), has counted almost 5,400 cases since the election of President Felipe Calderon and his declaration of war on the country’s drug cartels in 2006.

The situation of disappearances in Mexico provoked Amnesty International (AI) research director, Javier Zuniga, to draw comparisons with Southern Cone military dictatorships of the previous century.

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