Do Not Go to Mexico

AP Photo/Eduardo Verdugo, File

Maybe you've heard that two Australians and an American were murdered in Mexico recently. The three men were on a surf vacation and apparently came across a group of carjackers who had no hesitation in murdering them.

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The men who were killed were Australian brothers Callum Robinson, 33, his brother Jake, 30, and their American friend Jack Carter Rhoad, 30...

The three men were on a surfing trip in Baja California and were expected to check into an Airbnb in Rosarito on April 27 but never showed up, according to Debra Robinson, Callum and Jake’s mother...

Mexican authorities have determined that the three men were killed by thieves who were looking to steal their white pickup truck in order to sell its tires...

The bodies of the victims were found about 4 miles from where they were killed, just south of the city of Ensenada. A tent the men were staying in, as well as their burned-out truck, was found nearby.

It's a tragic story for the families involved but also not a very surprising one in this part of the world. In fact, the 50 foot deep well where the bodies of the three men were found also contained another body, unrelated to this case. The situation is bad enough that last year the State Department put out a warning to Americans about visiting parts of Mexico. The warning advised that Americans not travel to six states within Mexico and reconsider travel to seven other states including Baja.

The only really surprising thing about the murdered tourists is that they were found. Kidnapping and disappearances are very common in Mexico but resolution of these cases is relatively rare. As of last November there were 113,275 people on the missing persons registry maintained by the government. But Mexican President AMLO ordered an audit which critics saw as a way to bring the numbers down without actually solving the cases.

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When López Obrador came to office in 2018 as a leftist reformer promising to reduce crime and violence, the official number of disappeared was about 53,000. His administration boosted funding for the government search commission set up to help find them.

But by 2022, the total topped 100,000. López Obrador, who often cites “other data” when disputing statistics he doesn’t like, began to express doubts about the veracity of the numbers. He ordered an exhaustive new census of the disappeared...

In December, the government released the results: Of the more than 110,964 people officially listed as disappeared as of August, only about 11% could be corroborated as missing.

But the same article opens with the story of a mother whose son disappeared in 2020. She got a call from the auditors working on the list.

“We have information that your brother has appeared,” he told her. “We would like to have an interview with him.”

That was news to her. She checked with relatives, her brother’s friends, his old co-workers, the police and the hospital where he worked in the port city of Veracruz. No one had seen or heard from Osvaldo Julián García Colorado since October 2020.

“It was all a lie. My brother is still disappeared,” she said. “And everything was the same.”

Karla Quintana, the lawyer who headed the search for the missing quit her job last August. She had nothing good to say about AMLO's audit.

"The intent is, clearly and regrettably, to lower the numbers of disappeared people" without them necessarily having been found, Karla Quintana, a long-time human rights expert, said during a university seminar last week.

Quintana also said she resigned from her post as director of the search commission in August because she opposes the review and planned changes to the registry. It's unclear what those changes will be when the review is over.

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The bottom line is that the real situation is probably even worse than the numbers suggest and it seems to still be growing.

In 2017, state prosecutors opened about 760 disappearance investigations in Baja California. In five years, the number jumped more than threefold, according to Elementa DDHH.

“This is an ongoing phenomenon, and it’s increasing exponentially,” said Ms. Demichelis, adding that several factors are contributing to the worsening disappearance crisis in Baja California, such as drug trafficking, internal displacement, migration and gender violence.

 Most of the missing are either Mexican nationals or migrants passing through, but as of last year there were at least 558 Americans missing in Mexico. If you choose to visit parts of Mexico at this point, you are taking a real risk.

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John Stossel 5:30 PM | July 13, 2024
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