Mexico has drawn international headlines for Iguala and the missing students of the Ayotzinapa teachers’ college. This week it is garnering more for the plight of foreign visitors, three of whom are missing and a fourth is in custody.
Three Americans from Progreso, Texas, disappeared more than two weeks ago when they crossed the border to visit their father in El Control, a small town near Matamoros, Tamaulipas. Yesterday, four badly decomposed bodies — a woman and three men — were found not far from where the three went missing.
Witnesses have said that they saw armed men, who identified themselves as members of the tactical police unit Grupo Hércules, forcefully take away Erica Alvarado Rivera, 26, her brothers Alex, 22, and José Angel, 21, and her Mexican boyfriend, José Guadalupe Castaneda Benitez, 32. Grupo Hércules is a special security force that began operating in Matamoros in July.
Yesterday, the mother of the missing Americans, Raquel Alvarado, accused the mayor of Matamoros of being responsible for the detention of her children. She has also gone to the United States Federal Bureau of Investigation, which is now looking into the case as well.
Mayor Norma Leticia Salazar Vázquez has not responded to the accusation.
While authorities said DNA testing is being conducted to determine the identity of the bodies, they have also asked the father of those missing what they were wearing when they disappeared.
The bodies were found in a rift known as Los Cuervos and each had a bullet wound in the head.
Mexico is also in world news for the story of Kylie Bretag, an Australian woman who traveled here for a holiday and to celebrate her 30th birthday. Following the advice of a travel blog, and reportedly to save money, she crossed the border from California on foot, took a flight to Guadalajara and another to Cancún, without obtaining a tourist visa.
Authorities checked her passport while she was traveling by bus in Tabasco and took her into custody upon finding she had no visa. She was held in a detention center for six days before being transferred to Mexico City, where she remains.
Her family has mounted a social media campaign urging authorities to allow her to return home. The story has been picked up international media services, which have dubbed the affair, The Mexican Nightmare.