SAN DIEGO (Border Report) — State and federal officials appear to be at odds when it comes to the number of missing persons cases in Baja California.
According to Renata Demichelis Ávila, director of Mexico’s Human Rights Organization, 17,306 missing persons cases are active in the border state.
The figure is heavily disputed by Baja’s Attorney General’s Office, which claims there are only 2,300 missing people in the state.
Nevertheless, Demichelis Ávila calls it a crisis throughout Mexico, not only in Baja.
“We have come to realize the Attorney General’s Office does not send information to the national registry and that’s why you have discrepancies in the number of cases,” she said, adding that the actual number of missing persons in Baja has doubled since 2011.
During a forum on Wednesday night called “Missing in Baja California,” Demichelis Ávila said that 274 clandestine graves have been found around the state with almost 2,000 human remains in them.
And she also stated that most of the missing cases involve girls and women between the ages of 12 and 18, and men aged 26 to 35.
At the forum, many women involved with the searches for missing people claimed they look for everyone, not just their loved ones.
“There’s a lot of indifference and a lot of bureaucracy on the part of authorities,” said Milagros Galaviz, who is part of the Ensenada-based search group called “Following Your Steps.”
Others who attended the forum, like Angélica García, who is from the small town of San Quintín, about 150 miles south of the border, say investigators rarely respond or follow up when someone goes missing.
García said police dispatch officers once a month to gather information about missing people.
In her case, her son has been missing since March of last year.
“We go searching every Sunday for our children,” she said. “We go to hillsides, landfills, the beach, places we never imagined we’d check out — we traded our Sundays with our families for shovels and digging bars to go search because authorities don’t do anything.”