2014 A Record Year for Disappearances in Mexico

New statistics show that Mexico recorded its highest ever number of disappearances in 2014, in a timely reminder that the disappearance of 43 student teachers in Iguala was not an isolated incident.

Mexico’s National Register of Missing and Disappeared People recorded 5,098 cases between January and October 2014 — already 584 higher than 2013, which previously held the record for the highest number of disappeared, reported Animal Politico.

Of these cases, 162 are being investigated at the federal level, implying that they either involve federal officials or high-level organized crime groups.

By far the highest number of cases were registered in the violence-torn state of Tamaulipas, where 875 people have been registered as disappeared so far this year, followed by the State of Mexico with 495 and Jalisco with 430.

The number of registered disappearances has been rising since 2007, only dipping in one year since then — 2012 — as Animal Politico sets out. There has been a rapid increase since Enrique Peña Nieto assumed the presidency at the end of 2012: in total, Mexico has registered 23,605 cases, and 40 percent of those have been under Peña Nieto.

Despite the record numbers, and growing public outrage over the Iguala case, the Mexican government is set to slash the budget of a specialized federal search unit by 63.5 percent for 2015, reported Animal Politico.

InSight Crime Analysis

It is important to note that of the 5,000 people registered as missing or disappeared in Mexico this year, not all will have been abducted — the list also includes those who went missing for other reasons, not necessarily related to crime. Some of the increase in reported cases may be accounted for by the fact that Peña Nieto has shown a greater will to address the issue than his predecessors, developing a National Plan for Searching for the Disappeared, and founding a specialized federal unit to address disappearances.

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Nevertheless, the fact the rates of reported disappearances are highest in states wracked by organized crime-related violence suggests a strong correlation with criminal activity, and the numbers provide a disturbing statistical context for the mass disappearance of 43 students in Iguala.

Moreover, the increase in disappearances is accompanied by other indications of rising violence. Kidnappings were up by a third between January and October this year compared to the same period in 2013, according to statistics compiled by non-government organization Stop Kidnapping (Alto al Secuestro), reported Milenio. This simultaneous large rise in kidnapping suggests a deeply troubling pattern in criminal activity, and the continuing failure of the government to contain violence.