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Why Thousands of People Disappear in Mexico Every Year

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Why Thousands of People Disappear in Mexico Every Year
On September 26 2014, 43 students disappeared on their way to a protest in Iguala, Mexico. The students, all men in their teens and twenties, weren’t the first to go missing. More than 100,000 people have disappeared or been killed in Mexico over the last ten years (1).

Mexico is a country of corruption and crime where drugs are manufactured to meet the high demands of the USA, just over the border. In 2006, President Felipe Calderón declared a militarized war on Mexico’s drug cartels and since then the violence in the country has escalated. People now risk kidnap and murder every day.

Those 43 students were attacked by police officers and reportedly handed over to a drug gang who have admitted to killing the students. A mass grave of 38 burned corpses was discovered. Just this week, it was confirmed that at least one of those bodies was confirmed to be that of Alexander Mora, one of the missing students (6).

The drug war isn’t straightforward. Many of the local police forces and politicians are corrupt, often working with the drug gangs to maintain their authority and wealth. Despite the drug gangs receiving much of the blame for the murders and kidnappings, Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch claim to have strong evidence that suggests in over half of the cases, the state authorities are directly involved (2).

It is reported that the mayor of Iguala, Jose Luis Abarca, and his wife gave orders for the police to intervene the 43 students and for the drug gang to kill them (3). Abarca and his wife have now been arrested over the incident along with over 50 other people, including local police officers (4).




The Motivation

Why so many people are kidnapped is unclear. Sometimes ransoms are demanded. Others are taken due to direct involvement with the drug gangs over dealing and monetary disputes. Some disappearances are revenge attacks, when incorruptible police officers and their children are stolen away. However, the vast majority don’t seem to have a logical motive.

Sometimes the missing are found, whether by design or accident, and so it is that families maintain their hope that they will see their loved ones again. Years after their disappearance, some have been recovered alive after being forced into working for the cartels. It seems that often the gangs will take professionals, such as engineers and technology specialists, to grow their operations.

Part of the problem is that in the past many families have been too afraid to report that their loved ones have vanished. They are often bullied by the local authorities into dismissing the case, being met with disinterest and told just to accept that their missing family member is dead or has freely joined one of the gangs. Even when kidnappings are reported, it seems the local authorities aren’t above handing over human remains to families without performing any DNA tests (5).

alexander mora

Fighting Back

It appears that these missing 43 students were the last straw for the bereaved and frustrated families of Mexico. They have come together, interviewing their own witnesses, tracing phone signals, scouring Google Earth and funding their own forensic tests in a powerful attempt to get the truth.

The Day of the Disappeared, in late August, is particularly poignant for Mexico and is acknowledged with marching protests of families holding up images of their missing while surrounded by armed guards.

It seems an impossible situation, when the people you should be able to trust are so corrupt that you can’t travel for fear of being attacked and kidnapped or killed, but the families of Mexico don’t seem to be sitting back and taking it anymore. Thanks to improved technology, and social media spreading their message, the people of Mexico are hoping for a revolution – just so that they can have their families back.

References & Image Credits:
(1) BBC
(2) Cosmopolitan
(3) Independent
(4) The Guardian
(5) Independent
(6) BBC

Originally published on TopSecretWriters.com

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