A new report released Thursday by a Mexican civic participation group shows the alarmingly high number of missing persons reported in Mexico over the last six years of escalating drug cartel violence. The group, Propuesta Civica, or Civic Proposal, puts the number of missing from 2006 to 2012 at 20,851 people, 1,200 of them children under the age of 11. And incredibly, this database compiled by the Mexican Attorney General’s office is incomplete, according to the Washington Post.
Family members of missing people have complained to Mexican officials that their relatives are not listed in the database created under former President Felipe Calderon. The database has never been released to the public, but was leaked by government officials “frustrated by what they describe as a lack of official transparency and the failure of government agencies to investigate the cases,” the Post reported. The director of Civic Proposal told the newspaper “that although her group saw inconsistencies in the database, they decided to disclose it not only to help the public understand the scale of the violence, but also to pressure authorities to disclose official information on disappearances.”
Some media reports put the number of missing even higher, closer to 25,000. Add in the 70,000 confirmed deaths from drug violence since 2006, and it is clear the Calderon administration not only failed to get a handle on the continued violence terrorizing the country, but actually saw the bloodshed escalate.
“Critics say the outgoing government has been slow to collect data on those who disappeared and is burying the numbers because their publication would highlight Mexico’s failure to investigate the cases and undermine efforts by Calderon to show that his U.S.-backed fight against organized crime is working,” the Post reported, quoting the director of another group, Mexico Evalua, as saying, “Releasing the data would add to the already deteriorating forecast about growing insecurity, and publishing such a very large number, 25,000, it just reinforces the idea that the country is violent.”
Newly elected President Enrique Pena Nieto took over on Dec. 1. Though he promised to continue the “drug-war partnership with the United States,” the Post reported that Nieto “did not endorse the two countries pursing the kind of joint armed counternarcotics operations carried out by U.S. forces in Colombia and Central America.”