A new study of reported disappearances in the official statistics in Mexico shows that during the EPN administration (Dec 2012-present) there have been 13 disappearances each day–a total of 9,384 people in 22 months. This is more than double to rate of disappearances registered during the previous administration of Felipe Calderon. These are some of the findings from an examination of the databases of the National Register of Missing or Disappeared Persons from Jan 2007-Oct 2014 maintained by the Executive Secretariat of the National Public Security System. The database contains a total of 26,569 cases. The article below is an excerpt from the current issue of Proceso, 1997. It includes this link to numbers of disappearances per state. – Molly
Thanks to Jim Creechan for these links to updates on the killings and disappearances of the 43 students. -Molly
Reports in La Jornada and a report from CENCOS:
Academic Investigators have refuted the claim that the normalistas were incinerated at the Cocula garbage dump. They provided a detailed analysis of why this was physically impossible. Some independent (academic) investigators have suggested that the students might have been incinerated in army crematoria or in other private crematoria. The investigators have called for the army to allow inspectors onto the base to check. The army rejects both the “possibility” that this could have happened and “access to inspect”. In fact, a letter in today’s La Jornada from a general argues that the army does NOT HAVE incinerators capable of burning bodies. Sanjuana Martínez interviewed an academic at the centre of these claims (on Sunday) and he suggested that there had been threats made against those who opposed the “official version”. On Monday, an opinion column in La Jornada warned about the growing signs of “suppression” and threats against those who oppose the official version.
Both the Mexican press and the intellectual class of Mexico continue to be worried that the ultimate government response to the missing students and the public protests will be another DIRTY WAR. And I’m guessing that these fears are even greater today after the announcement the death of one of the iconic voices of free speech [ Julio Scherer Garcia (Proceso publisher)died early this morning–http://www.washingtonpost.com/world/the_americas/julio-scherer-garcia-journalist-and-irritant-of-politicians-dies-at-88/2015/01/07/a50ebb82-96a0-11e4-8005-1924ede3e54a_story.html ].
El Diario reports a total of 429 homicides in Juarez in 2014–a decrease of 11.5 percent over 2013 when there were 485 murders in the city. Interestingly, a couple of days ago (Dec 28) El Diario reported that there had been a total of 447 murders in the Northern Zone of the state of Chihuahua. Both figures are from the state Fiscalia, so I’m assuming that the difference has to do with which municipalities are included in the count. The criminologists and sociologists interviewed by El Diario point out that the year saw several examples of domestic violence in which fathers or mothers killed their children and in some cases also committed suicide.
“Criminologist Oscar Maynez Grijalva said that the conditions in the border city, in addition to being next door to the country that consumes more drugs than any other in the world, also suffers from a lack of opportunities, a weak and corrupt justice system and thus the violence and murders remain high.
“Violence within the family he said, is a product of the crisis generated by many causes of stress and is a symptom of something happening, that society is failing to protect victims, especially children.”
Bajan Los Homicidios En 2014: Fueron 429 (El Diario)
Thanks to Jim for sending these links and analysis. – Molly
Comments from Jim:
Padre Alejandro Solalinde is proving to be a one-man wrecking crew undermining the Peña Nieto government attempt to push the Ayotzinapa massacre into the background.
He was the first one to report that the students had been executed and burned with diesel fuel (three weeks? before the Murillo Karam press conference).
And yesterday he addressed a group of students in Guadalajara and reported that the arrest of ex-Alcalde Abarca was a staged event for political reasons and an attempt to control the agenda.
> El gobierno “ha estado administrando esta información para aprovechar tiempos políticos. No es cierto que le interese la tragedia; lo que le interesa es sacar provecho electoral
> Se trata de un control de daños políticos, un control de daños partidistas. Han estado manipulando toda la información para beneficio del PRI-gobierno.–
According to Padre Solalinde, Abarca and his wife were captured in Vera Cruz. If you remember, I had previously sent out an email indicating that Abarca was arrested in Vera Cruz and I had based my information on an internet item that was briefly reported by ejecentral.com and at least one other daily. But those reports did not lead to any national coverage or follow-up of this report.
According to Padre Solalinde, the arrest of Abarca and his wife was staged in Itztapalapa in D.F. in hopes of gaining a political advantage. Basically, the argument is that the PRD was targeted by the PRI (…in spite of PRD cooperation in most for the Enrique Peña Nieto political agenda in the first 18 months). Itztapalapa is a PRD stronghold (based on demographics – it’s poor, and it has voted PRD consistently). Arresting Abarca in this “urban zone” would make it look like he had PRD help in hiding. He and his wife were supposedly hiding in a house owned by a family that has benefitted from PRD contracts (towing contracts). The circumstances of the arrest are strange – there was pre-arranged press-coverage, and Abarca emerged wearing a perfectly pressed suit from a hovel.
Unfortunately for the PRI, Padre Solalinde keeps bringing forward accusations that are backed up by evidence. And even more unfortunately, Enrique Peña Nieto has his own Marie Antoinette (La Gaviota) living in his own personal Versaille and doing much more than eating cake. -James (Jim) Creechan
LINKS below to recent op-ed articles by John Ackerman in Mexico. -molly
Links embedded in titles. Each article is a stand alone, separately crafted piece.
“A call for authentic democracy in Mexico”, Los Angeles Times, October 30th, 2014
“Massacred democracy in Mexico”, Huffington Post, October 7th, 2014
“Le soutien aveugle de la France au président mexicain”, Libération, October 16th, 2014
“Gefahrliche Komplizenschaft”, Suddeutsche Zeitung, October 23rd, 2014.
“Fin al narcogobierno”, La Jornada, October 13, 2014.
Seminario Zeta of Tijuana recently published a piece comparing homicide statistics from the Calderon and Pena Nieto administrations and has appeared in several newspapers and magazines in Mexico including Proceso, http://www.proceso.com.mx/?p=380354
The original piece is posted below.
The gist of the article is that even though EPN and his government secretaries say that homicides have been reduced significantly (30% or more), the truth is much more murky and that compared to the first 20 months of Calderon’s term, there have actually been more homicides, not less.
The discussion has to do with the fact that official homicide statistics come from two main sources: the SESNSP and INEGI. [I posted a brief explanation of these two sources here, http://fronteralist.org/2014/08/22/q-a-with-frontera-lists-molly-molloy/ ] written before this new Zeta piece was published.
Zeta also uses media reports and civic organization counts in different states and cities and comes up with tallies that are somewhat higher than the recent INEGI report: http://www.inegi.org.mx/inegi/contenidos/espanol/prensa/Boletines/Boletin/Comunicados/Especiales/2014/julio/comunica3.pdf
The INEGI report itself is not a final report for 2013, but a preliminary one. More recent statistics are available only from the SESNSP and from media. There is also an issue of which homicides are counted? Homicidios dolosos are those usually considered murder or intentional/aggravated homicide. There is a whole other category of homicidios culposos, usually translated as accidental or negligent homicides. Zeta points out that as the numbers of homicidios DOLOSOS is slightly lower than in previous years, the number of CULPOSOS (accidental or negligent homicides) are going up. This makes us wonder if the government is “adjusting” its classifications of causes of deaths to make it appear that many of the killings are the kinds of “ordinary” accidental homicides that do not indicate an organized crime problem, but just people behaving badly.
One comes away thinking several things: 1) It is becoming even more difficult to know how many people are murdered in Mexico. 2)The EPN administration is determined to pursue an aggressive media strategy to make things appear less violent. 3) Presenting the homicide numbers for arbitrary periods like the “first 20 months” of different administrations is not that useful for comparison. 4)The levels of homicide, forced disappearances and kidnapping are still extremely high in Mexico.
Even using the more conservative figures reported by INEGI and the lower homicidios dolosos numbers reported by the SESNSP, “more than 153,000 people–an average of more than 1,600 per month–56 people PER DAY–have been murdered in Mexico since 2007.”
An English translation of the article published in El Diario de Coahuila is provided from Borderland Beat. Also posted below… -Molly Molloy
What are the current stats and how do they compare to previous years?
There are two main sources of official Mexican government statistics on homicides. INEGI, Mexico’s National Statistics Institute, tallies numbers of murder victims based on data from medical examiners in morgues across the country. A death is counted as a homicide when a legal medical specialist determines that homicide was the cause of death. These statistics are cumulated and generally reported in July or August for the previous year. The INEGI report for 2013 came out in late July and provided the figure of 22,732 intentional homicides—an average of 1,894 homicides each month. This figure is down from the figure of 25,967 in 2013 and from the highest number of 27,213 in 2012—an average of more than 2,200 murders per month.
The national murder rate in Mexico in 2013 was 19 per 100,000, down from the highest point of about 24 in 2012. When evaluating murder rates, we also have to consider that many cities, states or regions in Mexico have much higher rates than the national average. The state of Guerrero has a murder rate of 63—the highest in the country—and the city of Acapulco is at the top of the list of violent cities. Chihuahua state had a murder rate in 2013 of 59, about the same as the murder rate in Ciudad Juarez. This is a dramatic decrease from the highest murder rate in the world in 2010 (approaching 300 per 100,000) but still the second highest state murder rate in the country.
The other major source of crime statistics is the Executive Secretariat of the National Public Security System (SESNSP), part of the Secretariat of Government (SEGOB). SESNSP provides data on homicides from crime scenes as reported on a monthly basis by the Fiscalias (the Attorneys General) in each state. These numbers are generally lower than the cumulative figures reported by INEGI and can probably be explained by the fact that those injured in violent crimes may die later and eventually be categorized as homicides. Also, SESNSP data reports a separate category of homicidios culposos (negligent or unintentional homicides) in an initial crime scene investigation, but some of these may also be determined to be intentional at a later stage of investigation. A total of 9,303 homicidios dolosos (intentional homicides) are reported for January-July 2014, an average of about 1,300 homicides each month. In comparison, there were a total of 18,388 intentional homicides in 2013—an average of about 1,500 per month—somewhat lower than the cumulative INEGI total. For more on the SESNSP data, see: http://www.secretariadoejecutivosnsp.gob.mx/es/SecretariadoEjecutivo/Incidencia_Delictiva_Nacional_fuero_comun
Adding the INEGI numbers for 2007-2013, and the SESNSP numbers for January-July 2014, there were a total of 153,648 murder victims in Mexico during the past 7.5 years. That averages to 1,688 homicides per month since the hyper-violence began in Mexico.
And, these numbers do not include the estimated 30,000 people who have been officially reported missing or disappeared. Mexican government spokespeople have addressed the issue of the disappeared, most recently in a press conference yesterday resulting in a flurry of media coverage trying to explain the “disappearing disappeared.” See: http://www.jornada.unam.mx/2014/08/22/politica/005n1pol
The reality is that there are no accurate or reliable numbers on people who have disappeared. The government never says how many were found alive and how many are confirmed dead. And it is certain than many of the dead are never found. One recent report by Michelle Garcia and Ignacio Alvarado Alvarez for Al Jazeera America concludes:
“People began to disappear in Mexico in large numbers after President Felipe Calderón launched his war against drug traffickers in 2006. By 2013, the Mexican government, under a new administration, pegged the number of disappeared at 26,121, adding that not all were criminally related.
Experts and several human rights groups, however, estimate that reported cases represent roughly 10 percent of the total, as most people are reluctant to appeal to authorities who were either involved in or suspected of having ties to organized crime groups. Based on their calculations, the actual number could be closer to 200,000 people.”
What is the most informative literary work to come out in the last year regarding the violence in Mexico? Why?
The Beast: Riding the Rails and Dodging Narcos on the Migrant Trail, by Salvadoran journalist Oscar Martinez.
Amnesty International estimates that as many as 70,000 Central American migrants have disappeared in Mexico in the past 10 years. Published in Spanish as Los migrantes que no importan…The Migrants who Don’t Matter, The Beast is by far the best account I have read of how criminal/government networks actually work and how and why the massive death toll in Mexico and in Central America keeps rising. The book not only helps us to understand Mexico, but it also is the skeleton key to understanding the recent crisis in child migration from Honduras, El Salvador and Guatemala. At least 60,000 unaccompanied minors have made it to the United States border in the past year and we do not begin to know how many have been lost on the journey—not to mention the numbers of adult men and women who die in the migration. Here is one paragraph from Oscar Martinez’ interview below with the Texas Observer:
“TO: What do you hope Americans will learn from your book?
OM: I believe the worst tragedies along the path—the rapes, the mass kidnappings, the torturing done by Los Zetas, the fee to cross the border—are things that the migrants who have suffered them, in my experience, don’t even tell their own families. I’m convinced that it’s something they don’t tell their employers or their friends if they have any friends in the United States. I think people in the U.S. know that migrants have a long and hard journey. But I’m convinced that the country in which they work—where they cut tomatoes and clean houses—has no idea at all that what the migrants are going through is actually a humanitarian crisis. In other words, it’s a humanitarian crisis where organized crime takes care of extracting the very last drop it can from people who are already leaving their country with practically nothing.”
What has been one of the most surprising news story you’ve read this year? why?
The rise of ISIS, or the Islamic State terrorist military force and its lightning take-over of much of Iraq and Syria. I know, it has nothing to do with Latin America. Or does it? I think of the several trillion dollars and thousands of U.S. lives and hundreds of thousands of Iraqi lives lost since our invasion of that country in 2003 and even more deaths caused by massive destabilization in the region, in part sparked by our interventions. And for what? The result seems to be the creation of one of the most violent and dangerous threats the U.S. has faced, ever.
Then I look at the media storm in response to the massive numbers of children fleeing from intolerable violence in the small Central American countries. And I think about the illegal U.S. proxy wars against “the Communist threat” in those countries resulting in the deaths of hundreds of thousands of Central Americans in the 1970s and 1980s. Our policies and actions 30+ years ago sowed the seeds for the destruction of these societies and now we are reaping the crops.
What do you see happening with immigration in the U.S. and how will it affect Latin America?
I am appalled by the inhumane reaction of our government to the recent Central American migration. Instead of seeing the migration as a human rights crisis, our government is determined to detain and deport people as quickly as possible with not even lip-service to human rights, international law, or due process in our own courts.
The American immigration gulag is expanding and becoming more repressive at every turn. And the loudest protests call for more repression, not less.
While the administration and activists continue to talk about the president bypassing the stonewalled Congress to mandate immigration reform through executive action, I fear such action will result in more draconian border security measures and provide little if any benefit to the immigrants most in need of relief.
I hope my sad predictions are all wrong.
By all means, let’s INCREASE military and security payouts to corrupt military and police in Central American countries. Remember that the murder rate in Ciudad Juarez exploded to nearly 300 homicides per 100,000 people AFTER the Plan Merida inspired military surge into the state of Chihuahua… Honduras already has a murder rate of 100… And the city of San Pedro Sula’s murder rate approaches 200. More guns, helicopters and training for police who already are experts at torture thanks to US military advisers and they may surpass Mexico in murderousness. The victims? Poor people. The result? An ever greater EXODUS of refugees showing up at the border. -molly
Excellent report from Cindy Carcamo in Honduras for the LATimes below. She also gave an interview on THE WORLD:
For those who have read Todd Miller’s book, Border Patrol Nation, this story about US trained and funded border police in Honduras will not be a surprise. I assume that the Obama funding request considers this kind of program in Central America a valuable contribution. There seems to be no awareness in US policy circles about the extreme levels of corruption in the military and police units we supply and train in Mexico and Central America. Expect more violence–robbery, rape, beatings, extortion–toward the desperate people trying to flee conditions in their countries. But do not expect to see much coverage of it in the US press. -molly
Below is another excellent report on the massacres in Allende, Coahuila…Yesterday I posted the piece from VICE.COM: How a Mexican Cartel Demolished a Town, Incinerated Hundreds of Victims, and Got Away, by Diego Enrique Osorno.
The July 5 report below by Michelle Garcia and Ignacio Alvarado at Al Jazeera America goes further in pointing out the actual involvement of Mexican government forces in the disappearance and killing of more than 300 people–activities that went on for months in 2011. Only after three years has a Coahuila state prosecutor begun to investigate and probably only now because of testimony provided by several people who left Mexico and are now protected witnesses in a Texas court proceeding.
A few excerpts:
“Missing from the official statements was any explanation as to how the Zetas — whose name means Z — were able to carry out days, if not months, of killings unimpeded by law enforcement. There was no indication that the military, which was posted at a base in Piedras Negras and operated a checkpoint outside of Allende, intervened.”
“… Questions about possible government complicity — directly or indirectly — generally dissipate when violence is branded as Zeta-related. Indeed, as violence in Mexico’s northern region continues unabated, in lieu of investigations and convictions, Zeta is the catchall explanation applied to criminality, one that has the effect of silencing further questions.”
…“Let’s suppose that there had existed a small, tenuous difference between the supposed legal and political system and the narco organizations, the cartels,” said Vera, who operates the Center for Human Rights Fray Juan de Larios, which defends migrants’ and prisoners’ rights. “That line is faded now because of the degree of corruption.”
The discovery of this latest atrocity can be added to years of similar events, some of which I tried to explain last summer here: The Mexican Undead: Toward a New History of the “Drug War” Killing Fields…
These questions remain: Which criminal element is actually the driving force–the cartels, or the government? And where in the mainstream US press can we find any reference to Merida Initiative billions of US taxpayer dollars going directly to corrupt and murderous Mexican police and military? And to what end? I think we need only look at the exodus of children and families from Mexico, El Salvador, Honduras and Guatemala to get a glimpse of how such policies play out on the ground. -molly