~ This article was originally published by La Jornada de Veracruz on October 5, 2014 ~
From the time Javier Duarte assumed the governorship in December of 2010 until March of 2014, the State Prosecutor’s Office (FGE), with the Attorney General’s Office (PGJ) has registered at least 104 cases of disappeared women in the state that have thus far gone unresolved. Of those, 35 percent correspond to girls between 11 and 15 years old, 15.5% are adolescents aged 16 and 17, 27 percent are youth between 18 and 24, and 7 percent are women aged 25 to 29. So of the 104 disappeared women, 85% are girls, adolescents and youth. In the last three years, 29 cases were reported in Xalapa and another 17 in the port of Veracruz.
Isolated statistics have revealed that the Federal Attorney General’s Office (PGR) opened 189 investigations into forced disappearances during the last five years; which is to say, those cases in which government officials participated. The years 2013 and 2014 have been the darkest in terms of the growth of that crime.
Within the national statistics, Veracruz stands out as the state where the most people have been forcibly disappeared by functionaries in the last four years. With 51 cases registered with the PGR, Tamaulipas is second.
While in 2010, 2011, and 2012 an average of 20 investigations into forced disappearance were opened per year, in 2013 and 2014 an average of 64 investigations were opened, which represents an increase of 315 percent over the preceding three years.
Even when the statistics on disappearances in the country are variable and contradictory (to the extent that the Geneva Convention recommended to Mexican authorities that they obtain reliable statistics) from April, 2007 to April, 2015, it is mentioned that at least 25,955 people have disappeared, of which “government agents” were responsible for 191. Of this nationwide number, the data for Veracruz is alarming, as 51 of the disappearances were the responsibility of government agents, according to the PGR, and the range of reported disappearances to state and federal authorities from 2010 to 2015 go from 104 in some counts to 818 in others. What is clear is that the number is high and demands the attention of the authorities, but they have proven incapable of even offering a diagnostic of the police investigations and proposing a public policy to stop the national tragedy that millions of families are experiencing.
The timid creation of the “Homogenized protocol for the search for disappeared persons and the investigation of the crime of forced disappearance” by the PGR is a recognition of the incompetence in investigative techniques and the training of investigating prosecutors, as well as well as an acknowledgement of the 33 (at least) organizations of family members of the disappeared who have not received a response from the state. But it is a manual of good intentions that will not matter unless it produces results; the appearance of the “absent,” punishment of the guilty, information about the gangs engaged in human trafficking, and a public policy of attention to the problem.
In this context, the document produced under the international legal mark of the international and inter-American system of human rights, the Constitution, Mexican jurisprudence, and the Interamerican Court of Human rights (CIDH) such as the cases of Blake v. Guatemala, Bámaca Velásquez v. Guatemala, Molina Theissen v. Guatelamala, Blanco Romero and others v. Venezuela, González and others (“Campo Algodonero) v. Mexico, Radilla Pacheco v. Mexico, Chitay Nech and others v. Guatemala, Gomes Lund and others (“Guerrilha do Araguaia”) v. Brazil, Gelman v. Uruguay, among others.
The Protocol, unlike those developed by the court, lays out an explanation of the reality and the theory, which is lacking, but among other statistics that it provides it establishes that Veracruz, along with the states of Baja California Sur, Guerrero, Chiapas, Tabasco, the Federal District, Mexico State, Yucatan, Quintana Roo, Morelos, Nayarit, and Queretaro have not classified the crime of forced disappearance in their legal codes.
Although it does not clarify why, it is worth remembering that the same institution filed a claim of unconstitutionality against the Law to Prevent the Trafficking of Persons approved in Veracruz in March of 2013 and which the Supreme Court declared unconstitutional in articles 1, part II, and 8 to 31, considering that they infringed on the faculties of the PGR since the state law established classifications and penalties that, in the opinion of the Court, belonged to the federal sphere of action.
Journalist Norma Trujillo Báez reports for La Jornada from Veracruz. This article was published by La Jornada de Veracruz on October 5, 2015 under the title “Alza de 315% en desapariciones forzadas de 2013 a 2014” and is available at: http://www.jornadaveracruz.com.mx/alza-de-315-en-desapariciones-forzadas-de-2013-a-2014/
Translation by Michael Lettieri, Trans-Border Institute