“His wife went to buy medicine and was never seen again,” is just one of the chilling details in a report compiled by Mexico’s attorney general that shows more than 25,000 children and adults have gone missing in Mexico in the last six years.
The unpublished documents were leaked by Mexican bureaucrats who are frustrated with the government’s lack of transparency and failure to investigate missing persons cases. As President Felipe Calderon prepares to leave office, the numbers chronicle the human cost of Mexico’s bloody crackdown on drug cartels and gangs.
According to the Washington Post, the list of missing persons is recorded in Microsoft Excel columns, along with the dates of their disappearance, their ages, the clothes they were wearing, their jobs and details about the last time they were seen. Some include, “her daughter was forced into a car,” or “the father was arrested by men wearing uniforms and never seen again.”
Only eight percent of crimes are reported in Mexico and only one percent are investigated, reports Slate. This makes it highly likely that while some family members have probably returned home since the listed was compiled, there are probably many other missing persons who were never reported missing.
For some time, human rights activists and families of the missing have said there was such an explosion of disappearances in the last six years that it overwhelmed the government. Other critics agree that the government was slow to collect data and has been “burying numbers” because they would highlight Mexico’s failure to fight drug trafficking.
Despite speculation, the reality is that incoming President Enrique Pena Nieto will be tasked with tracking down the 25,000 missing persons on the list.
When the Washington Post asked Calderon’s spokesman why the numbers had not been made public during his tenure, he declined to comment. The attorney general’s office also did not respond to questions about the list that its staff compiled.
“If the government releases the figures of the displaced, the missing and the dead, it would reflect badly on them, but they ignored us, they ignored the reality,”said Antonio Verastegui, whose brother and nephew were kidnapped by hooded men in 2009. He told the Post, “To release these figures would show that their strategies had failed, and they had failed us.”