Saturday, October 06, 2012

The Disappeared

We've been broadcasting from deep within the belly of The Great Satan for most of the last seven months, thinking that, after five or six years of setting a good example, we could trust the state of Querétaro to take care of itself for a little while. We stopped back in May to bury a couple of bags of money in the desert, and got our first indications that discipline was unraveling in our absence, but we assumed that was just a blip and that, at the very least, Darwinism would sort out the biker-themed gay bar down the street.

Turns out, things are worse than we had imagined. Not only is it hard to get a decent cocktail along the Plaza de Armas anymore, but apparently women and girls have been disappearing at an alarming rate, and the local authorities and press are aware of it, but doing very little to shed any light on the subject.

As far as we can tell (and we haven't been paying close attention), this first came to light in February, in a report in Libertad de Palabra, which probably does the best journalism in the entire state, but which looks like a cheaply-produced supermarket circular, so hardly anyone reads it.  LdeP reported that data from the state prosecutor's office (PGJQ) shows 330 people had disappeared between 2006 (when we set up shop here) and 2011 - 265 in 2010-11 alone.  More disturbingly, LdeP said that the prosecutors had resisted even showing them that document, and refused to let the reporters have a copy of it. The number is presumably a lowball estimate; for March 2010, when 33 queretano migrants disappeared in a highly publicized case, the office lists only 8 disappearances, none of which are those 33. The number of active investigations into those 330 missing people was approximately nada.

Last month, the PGJQ's website listed four boys, five men, three women and 15 girls missing.  But the chief prosecutor admitted that in fact there were at least 48 cases of missing girls.  Since the streets of Querétaro aren't exactly littered with bodies, it's safe to assume that many of these children are gainfully employed at a brothel near you.  When this was reported in Proceso, the prosecutor responded that it wasn't an important problem.  The agency's digital milk carton still shows only 15 girls.  Hey, whatever, right?  Kids are resilient.  No reason to rush into some kind of investigation or something.

In the annual Independence Day parade last month, the city's vast array of overpriced paramilitary hardware was on display.  Here's one from the Mad Max Collection - an armored, machine-gun mounted all-terrain dune buggy!

Now if that doesn't give you an absolutely massive erection the way it does Gov. Calzada, the state police and the PGJQ, well there's at least a few dozen teenage sex slaves out there that might be able to help you with that.


Anonymous said...

Sounds worthy of a documentary to expose what's happening right here. That would keep you nearer to home for awhile too. Want some inspiration? Watch the movie "The Trade".

Mexfiles said...

OTOH, "disappeared" may not mean murdered, or sold into bondage... it may mean just mean heading north, or leaving one's family (or spouse) for any number of reasons. Not that I discount the concern, nor that there is an excuse for the state's failure to investigate, but that the tendency in Mexico (especially by foreigners) to assume the worst is not always productive.

Burro Hall said...

Perhaps. Though I would still argue that it would be more productive if the PGJQ didn't always assume the best.

jaxinmexico said...

Mexfiles is correct in saying there is little data on human trafficking in Mexico, though the Inter-American Commission of Women under the OAS is attempting to cross-reference reports. A heroic attempt in my opinion, since it's notoriously difficult to quantify criminal activity.

As an American living in Mexico,I do NOT want to nurture a tendency to assume the worst, and as a woman, I hope many of these young women have simply left under their own steam. But as a long-time activist, I am not sanguine.

Burro Hall, I think you've taken the right tone in your post. Human trafficking - or let's just call it by it's right name, slavery - is as old as time and generally ignored by authorities and society until it's one of yours.