For several years now, a narrative has been built about the murders counted per presidential term. In such macabre stories there is a kind of competition about whether Felipe Calderón’s period was worse or better than Enrique Peña Nieto’s, and these, whether together or separately, better or worse than López Obrador’s. The dispute seems to lie, notably, in the number of people murdered during those periods. Also, in the figures for specific periods and their corresponding increases or decreases. The issue has already been so normalized that it has managed to separate itself from the people affected to give rise to an apparent strictly numerical rivalry. I say that it seems this way because the disputes over figures are only the final example of the qualitative war deployed in different dimensions to directly affect said figures or to displace them towards other indicators, all in the crazy competition to demonstrate the superiority of the current six-year term. compared to that of the aforementioned competitors.
Given the relevance of the number of murders that occurred during his presidential period, López Obrador began by referring to the inheritance received. He alluded to the fact that a very important part, if not all of the bad things that happened during his presidency, had to do with what happened during those of Calderón and Peña Nieto. On some occasions this was pointed out by pointing out the social inequalities that generate violence or the poor security strategies that had been implemented in the past. Without completely abandoning these narratives, he later added the one that had to do with the factious role that the media was playing in publicizing inflated or flat-out non-existent figures. All of this, of course, to harm the government action that was carried out properly from the Obradorist perspective. Balancing between these narratives, it was time to accept that the total number of those murdered was at least equal to, and most likely greater than, that of the two previous periods.
Such acceptance was made with its corresponding seasonings. In the presidential speech, the deaths continued to be due to the usual external factors. Poverty, cursed inheritance, media distortions or wars between cartels. It was for this reason that there was no room left to question—of course self-critically—the rearrangements of the federal security forces, the “hugs and not bullets” strategy or any other action or omission on the part of the president or his collaborators.
Regardless of the figures reported and admitted, the truth is that the presidential speech repeated daily in the morning conferences managed to prevail in some communication segments. From the figures side, there is the perception that this six-year term is not, at least, as bad as the previous two. Even more so, he competes with them in the gruesome dance of the dead. From the side of the causes, there seems to be a mixture of the justifications put forward by the president, as well as, I fear, a growing social indifference regarding the very phenomenon of murdered people. By repeating numbers and making strictly quantitative comparisons, not only empathy seems to have been lost, but also the understanding of what is at stake.
It was in this kind of numbness, resignation or disinterest in the murdered, in which a new phenomenon made its appearance and, in some way, began to take its place. I am referring to the issue of missing persons, which did not arise in this six-year term. It has been under construction for years, although in an ambiguous, if not concealed, way. At first it was seen as an extra-state matter. The drug traffickers killed each other and then disappeared each other as well. In those years, the missing people were or were linked to crime. This superfluous and largely classist vision had to give way in order to incorporate an evident reality. The disappearances went far beyond some isolated phenomena, so much so that they involved migrants, innocent people and citizens in general.
The work of the search groups, especially the women linked to the missing people, made the issue visible and ended up separating it from crime. Additionally, the involvement of the security forces, including the armed forces, ended up involving him with the state itself. The promises made by President López Obrador during the campaign and fulfilled in some way at the beginning of his six-year term, in order to differentiate him from his predecessors, ended up giving him a narrative centrality with the president as the great narrator. But, again, the accumulated numbers caused a crisis. At the beginning, and as happened with those murdered, the president was able to compare himself with Calderón and Peña Nieto, and emerge, if it can be said, the winner in such a sad contest. Then he turned to the history of social causes or past mistakes. However, this discourse also ran out and could no longer cover the graves, the missing, their remains, their bodies and their families.
It was here that what until today seems to be, if it can also be said that way, the government’s strategy on the matter began. Basically, it aims to demonstrate the errors in the records and the bad faith implicit in their construction, and then support the excesses of the numbers. This is demonstrated by the demand for the resignation of the head of the National Commission for the Search of Missing Persons in Mexico, the recommendation of the National Human Rights Commission and the proposal to carry out a household survey to identify the real and authentic missing persons.
As happened with those murdered, we are already experiencing a competition to demonstrate that this six-year term is better than its predecessors when it comes to missing persons. To demonstrate to ourselves and to show us that their number is not as large as the media and civil organizations consider, but that, as with so many other things, it is all about the efforts of conservatism to discredit them. Having achieved some type of success in the bloody battle to dilute those murdered and the inherent responsibilities of the State, the fight is open to identify the missing persons and those responsible, be they individuals, authorities or, as it seems to be, the inextricable complicity of each other.
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