A list allegedly created by Mexico’s Attorney General’s Office (PGR) detailing over 20,000 missing people during the administration of Felipe Calderon was published by an NGO, a move which will likely increase pressure on the government to finally release official figures on disappearances.
The figures, released by NGO Civic Proposal (Propuesta Civica) on December 20 and which put the number of missing at 20,851 over the past six years, are said to have been obtained by LA Times reporter Tracy Wilkinson, reported the Associated Press.
In the list, details are given for each missing person, including age, gender, and the date and location they disappeared. The PGR has denied any knowledge of such a list.
The director of Civic Proposal, Pilar Talavera, said that certain inconsistencies in the list — which weren’t expanded upon — means that there is a chance the number of missing could be higher. However, the NGO made the decision to publish the data in an effort to pressure the government to finally release figures themselves.
Mexico City was the worst hit area for disappearances, according to the figures, registering 7,137 missing people.
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These figures come just a few weeks after the Washington Post published a report claiming it had seen a PGR list that put the number of missing at 25,000 people. The fact that both releases have come in quick succession, and place the figure around roughly the same mark, will serve to increase pressure on the government to release an official database on the matter.
Former President Felipe Calderon promised last year that a database would be ready by 2012 and Congress passed a law requiring such a database to be compiled. However, there has been a significant amount of inertia on the issue since.
Complicating the matter is the use of “disappearance” sites by certain criminal groups. A Milenio report found that the government had identified 15 of these sites where the victims’ are destroyed beyond recognition. This means that it will likely be difficult to put an accurate number on both homicides and disappearances since the victim’s body may never be recovered.
The new government of Enrique Peña Nieto may well take the initiative and begin compiling figures on the missing in an effort to distance itself from the previous administration. Officials have already been highly critical of Calderon’s crime policies since taking office on December 1.