At least 61,637 people have been forcibly disappeared in Mexico, authorities announced Monday, amid a decade of extreme violence since Mexico launched an all-out crackdown targeting organized-crime groups in 2006. The leftist government of President Andrés Manuel López Obrador released the estimate after authorities had previously put the number of victims at 40,000. The numbers confirm that Mexico is suffering another dire crisis of “the disappeared,” following a similar epidemic in the 1970s and 1980s when governments systemically detained and killed opponents. Roughly 40,000 people went missing during Guatemala’s 36-year civil war, which ended in 1996, and an estimated 30,000 disappeared during Argentina’s “dirty war,” which lasted from 1976 to 1983.
Authorities said that most of the disappearances are at the hands of narco-traffickers and other criminals, many of whom likely worked with corrupt police and politicians. Mexico has been suffering more than a decade of staggering violence, with a record-setting 31,000 homicides last year through November. The numbers reveal how López Obrador’s government has prioritized finding the missing as he faces criticism for his lack of a sufficient plan to fight violence in the country.