Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador’s call for a "new census" is causing much backlash over missing people in his country, The Washington Post reported.
López Obrador says the number of Mexico's missing persons is much lower than the 100,000 listed last year. He has dispatched officials to check whether people initially reported as disappeared have returned to their families, The Post said.
Families and advocates of the disappeared persons, however, fear López Obrador is trying to lower the numbers artificially before an election year.
Karla Quintana, the head of the government commission responsible for the official count, abruptly resigned on Wednesday "in light of the current context."
Quintana emailed the entire database of missing persons – more than 110,000 cases — to the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights "for safekeeping," according to an email reviewed by The Post.
Quintana's departure raised questions about Washington's investment of tens of millions of dollars in the effort to help Mexico find missing persons — a bright spot in a U.S.-Mexico relationship often strained over the differing approaches to combating drug trafficking.
"She was a serious and committed person," a U.S. official told The Post. "She was a great spokesman for the work. That moves millions of dollars, in terms of assistance."
López Obrador called his critics "phonies."
"These phonies are saying that there are more disappeared now than in [former President Felipe] Calderón’s term," he told reporters this week. "Now we are searching, and we are finding a lot of people."
Calderón, president from 2006-2012, initiated the offensive against drug cartels in 2006.
A longtime leftist, López Obrador took office in 2018 promising to investigate some of his country's "darkest secrets," according to The Post. They included the mass disappearance of 43 rural college students from the town of Ayotzinapa in 2014, and the "Dirty War" disappearance of hundreds of students and leftist guerrillas starting in the 1960s.
A powerful military, politics and the ineptitude of the judicial system have derailed efforts to probe those events, the report continues.
Also, this month there have been new disappearances, including body parts of at least 13 people in freezers in the eastern state of Veracruz, and a video circulating on the internet of a young man slicing another’s neck with a knife, on the orders of his captors. Apparently, the two youths had vanished in the western state of Jalisco.
Miguel Agustín Pro Juárez Human Rights Center Director Santiago Aguirre said the scandals reflected the Mexican government's poor performance in security, justice and human rights.
"Faced with this reality, the federal government seems more focused on attacking the perception than taking responsibility for the poor results," he told The Post.
With López Obrador unable to prevent criminal groups from asserting control over much of Mexico, disappearances have mounted. The Post said people disappearing include land rights activists, extortion victims and people kidnapped to perform forced labor.
Charlie McCarthy ✉
Charlie McCarthy, a writer/editor at Newsmax, has nearly 40 years of experience covering news, sports, and politics.
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