The Mexican government published for the first time a map of the clandestine graves found since the war against drug trafficking began and into which thousands of bodies were dumped, to a large extent, they have not yet been identified due to the lack of capacity of the forensic services.
The data, which was compiled by the National Search Commission, was divided into two periods. The first covers from 2006 to 2018, that is, during the governments of Felipe Calderon and Enrique Pena Nieto, in which 2,835 graves were discovered.
The second accounts since December 2018, when President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador took office. Since then, 2,701 have been found, representing 49%.
In total, there are 5,545 clandestine graves that demonstrate the crisis of violence that Mexico is suffering and that includes hundreds of thousands of people murdered, more than 110,000 disappeared, and tens of thousands of bodies that have been found, but those that have not yet been found. they can be identified.
These figures also grow daily because the violence does not stop. According to the map, between 2006 and 2018, the states with the highest number of clandestine graves were Tamaulipas, Veracruz, Chihuahua, Guerrero and Zacatecas.
The order changed between 2018 and 2023, since the list of states with the highest number of graves was headed by Colima, Sinaloa, Guerrero, Jalisco and Michocan.
On the contrary, none are reported in Mexico City, Guanajuato, Queretaro, Hidalgo, Chiapas and Yucatan.
The information was collected by the National Search Commission, based on reports from the Attorney General’s Office and state prosecutors’ offices, but it is not even closed data because new graves continue to be searched for and found every day.
The National Search Commission clarified that the map data corresponds to an internal record and is not the National Registry of Mass Graves and Clandestine Graves that should be created by law, but it doesn’t exist yet.
They also explain that the time of discovery does not allow determining the date of disappearance and death of the people, nor the date on which the grave was made.
This means, for example, that the 2,701 graves found during the Lopez Obrador government could have been dug in past administrations. The date can only be determined through forensic examinations of the bodies found.
“The platform allows for a spatial and geographical visualization of clandestine graves. In addition to the visualization from the geographical dimension, numerical data on clandestine graves by state and municipality can be obtained,” details the report that accompanies the map.
As soon as the map was published, criticism began from activists and journalists because the number of victims found in the graves was not specified.
Almost half of the graves located in Nuevo Leon published by @Busqueda_MX on the Clandestine Graves Findings Map they do not have the municipality registry. What good is it for us to know that 90 graves have been located without locating them? How to perform a context analysis? pic.twitter.com/ECWuGw3YjT
— Chantal Flores (@chantal_f) March 24, 2023
“Those who have more accurate data are the familiesthat we are the ones doing investigative work,” said David Molina Rodriguez, leader of the Collective of Relatives of the Disappeared in Guerrero Lupita Rodriguez, after considering that there is an underreporting of graves reported in that state.
The sociologist Jorge Ramirez, for his part, assured that the Government’s failure to create a National Registry demonstrates “the total irrelevance” that is given to the subject.
“A map of graves by federal entity is almost no information. Neither on the map nor in the files that seem to feed it is there information from the municipalities. A count of graves, then, is an unreliable indicator, and less so over time,” Ramirez considered, explaining that the information is of little use if it is not contrasted with the number of victims found.
The forced disappearance of people, which is a crime against humanity and therefore imprescriptible, became a central problem in Mexico starting in 2006, the year in which former President Felipe Calderon declared war against drug trafficking.
Since then, the criminal organizations that operate in the country have multiplied and, in many cases in complicity with officials, commit massacres and hide the bodies of their victims, or what remains of them, in clandestine graves.
The governments of Calderon and Pena Nieto did not recognize the magnitude of the humanitarian crisis nor did they help the relatives of the disappeared, which forced them to organize on their own to create search groups.
It was they, in particular groups of mothers, who dug up land with their bare hands and precarious tools and began to discover mass graves throughout the country.
Unlike his predecessors, Lopez Obrador did assume the seriousness of the human rights violations and recognized the responsibility of the State.
Last October, the Undersecretary for Human Rights, Alejandro Encinas, presented a report in which he reported that during this government, 2,386 clandestine graves had been located and exhumed more than 4,000 human bodies.
Before, he had already recognized that the violence and the number of victims overwhelmed the forensic services and caused there to be 52,000 unidentified bodies.