With 5,682 people reported to have disappeared in the last seven years — mostly at the hands of drug cartels — Tamaulipas leads the way.
The State of México followed with 3,369 and Jalisco with 2,653, according to the national missing persons registry, or RNPED, which last updated the missing persons’ tally on March 1.
The numbers may seem extremely high but as far as one citizens’ group is concerned, the true numbers are much higher.
By taking into account cases that go unreported, Guillermo Gutiérrez Riestra of the Collective of Relatives and Friends of Missing People of Tamaulipas estimated the real figure to be closer to 80,000 in Tamaulipas alone during the last seven years.
Regardless of what the correct figures are, the new state administration of Governor Francisco García Cabeza de Vaca has failed to install a commission to address the issue despite a campaign promise.
That promise was that a commission would be established within the first 100 days of his taking office. But 50 days beyond that deadline the process is stalled and a commissioner has yet to be named.
At the federal level, non-governmental organizations have criticized the government for postponing discussion on the General Law on Forced Disappearances and Disappearances of Individuals.
That law, based on an eight-point proposal presented nearly two years ago by an umbrella group of organizations advocating for and supporting relatives of missing persons, included the creation of a National Search Commission, through which the government and relatives would collaborate on designing search techniques.
It also calls for the creation of a National Search Plan to prioritize the search of people who may still be alive, the establishment of a national exhumation and identification program and a registry of clandestine mass graves.
The number of missing people nationwide up to March 1 has been pegged at 30,942, with the earliest disappearance recorded in 1971.
In December 2015 the total was estimated at 26,128.
The disappearances have generated no shortage of criticism, not only for the war against drugs that has largely caused them but for the government’s response. One strong critic has been Amnesty International.
A year ago it wrote that “systemic incompetence and a complete lack of will by state and federal authorities in Mexico to properly search for and investigate the disappearance of thousands of people are fueling a human rights crisis of epidemic proportions.”
The organization’s Americas director, Erika Guevara-Rosas, said: “Tragically, disappearances have become such a common occurrence across Mexico that they have almost become part of ordinary life. In the rare occasions when investigations actually take place, they are little more than a mere formality to pretend something is being done.”