An unpublished government list of 25,000 people gone missing in Mexico during the Calderon administration has leaked to the press, revealing both the horrifying scale of the country’s disappearances and the government’s inadequate response.
The list, reportedly released by government employees alarmed by official inaction, was compiled by Mexico’s attorney general, reported the Washington Post.
The victim’s names are collected in a spreadsheet that contains their basic information and a few brief details on how they disappeared. The list includes a wide range of cases, from those who have simply vanished to those who have been forcibly abducted.
While the list is likely imprecise, given that some disappearances may have gone unreported and some of the missing may have returned to their homes, the number of victims far exceeds previous estimates of Mexico’s disappeared.
Human rights activists have sharply criticized the Calderon administration’s lack of transparency on the issue of missing persons, accusing the government of failing to properly collect data and of intentionally suppressing grim statistics that would undermine the administration’s anti-drug strategies.
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Previously released government estimates of Mexico’s disappeared have been conflicting. As Animal Politico has reported, the Attorney General’s Office (PGR) counts 4,800 disappearances while the Secretariat of Public Security (SSP), which is legally responsible for updating the national register of missing persons, has documented 2,044 cases.
The leak of the expontentially longer list follows many unfulfilled promises on the part of the Calderon administration to release a more comprehensive database of missing persons and unidentified bodies, the latter of which number 24,102 out of the 60,000 Mexicans that have died in circumstances related to the fight against organized crime since 2006.
President-elect Enrique Peña Nieto has pledged to improve transparency, but he will have to confront some major challenges. He is inheriting a broken judicial system, and a legacy of accusations that the government is both unable to solve and indifferent to the plight of Mexico’s thousands of disappeared citizens.