Mexican authorities announced Monday that an estimated 61,637 Mexicans have disappeared amid the country’s drug war. A previous analysis in April of 2018 put the figure at just 40,000.
The figure was calculated based on analysis of data from state prosecutors. While the cases which were analyzed date back as early as the 1960s, more than 97 percent of the cases have occurred since 2006, when then-president Felipe Calderón began a military crackdown on drug traffickers. More than 5,000 people disappeared last year according to Karla Quintana, head of Mexico’s National Search Commission.
Forced disappearances in Mexico have been a human rights concern since the 1970s and 1980s, and the crisis has become one of the greatest of its kind in Latin American history. Guatemala’s 36-year civil war resulted in an estimated 40,000 disappearances, and 30,000 disappeared in Argentina’s “dirty war” from 1976 to 1983.
The increased figure is, in part, a result of an increased recognition and focus on the crisis by the administration of left-wing President Andrés Manuel López Obrador. However, according to Falko Ernst, senior Mexico analyst of the International Crisis Group, “What is being done to curb conflict, thus prevent numbers from rising further, is still unclear.” While López Obrador has created a new police National Guard to curb violence, few have signed up.
US President Donald Trump has volunteered to send troops into Mexico to help confront drug-trafficking groups, and has threatened to designate cartels as terrorist groups. Mexico has so far rejected all offers of American military deployment.