The United Nations Committee on Enforced Disappearances held a panel last Friday asking Mexico to be sanctioned for the 22,600 civilians reported missing in the past eight years. Not only is the number incredibly alarming, but most, if not all, of these disappearances are linked to abductions carried out by state authorities.
The most recent case made national headlines as 43 college students were kidnapped last September in the Mexican state of Guerrero. The ongoing investigation has already brought 99 suspects to justice, including the former mayor of Iguala, the town where the students were last seen. Mayor Jose Luis Abarca is currently awaiting trial as the accused mastermind behind the abductions.
At a news conference last Tuesday, Mexican Attorney General Jesus Murillo Karam confirmed that the students have been killed, burned and thrown into a nearby river. However, only one of the bodies has been identified, because it has been extremely difficult to extract DNA from the remains due to the ghastly burns. The victim's parents and local citizens have participated in protests and demonstrations throughout the country, which have often turned violent.
The U.N. committee is now calling on Mexico to create a specialized prosecutor's office to investigate these types of cases.
As if these disappearances and killings weren't already inhumane, one of the most off-putting factors has been the government's blatant insensitivity. In a report issued as a response to the U.N.'s recommendation, the Mexican government simply said it would "consider it."
Mexico's president seemed especially eager to move past being on the hot seat at an event last Tuesday.
"I'm convinced that we should not remain trapped in this instant, this moment in Mexico's history, of sorrow, of tragedy and pain. We just can't dwell here," President Enrique Peña Nieto said.
It's hard to understand how someone in his position of power, or any position, can possibly urge citizens to just casually turn the page. Mothers, fathers and loved ones are losing the most important people in their lives, and the president's idea of comfort is to say "move on." The government's remoteness should make people uncomfortable as they have not even agreed to a definite number of victims, suggesting that there could possibly be even more missing persons.
The U.N. expressed concern over the country's failure to investigate past abductions, and several human rights groups say officials have consistently ignored the problem. The investigation of the missing college students could very well be a knee-jerk reaction to the public outcry.
It's incredibly disheartening to realize that we live in a world where thousands can go missing, and the most we can do to bring justice is make "recommendations." There is no explanation as to why the numbers have gotten so incredibly high, and only now are officials being asked to provide answers. Mexican officials are openly kidnapping and killing their civilians, and it seems like all we can do is sit back and watch.
Radharany Diaz is a contributing columnist for the Central Florida Future.