Saturday, March 11, 2023

WaPo Breathless About 550 Americans Missing In Mexico

WaPo  |  Lisa Torres was glued to her phone, watching news reports on the kidnapping last week of four Americans in the Mexican city of Matamoros. She lived in the Houston suburbs, hundreds of miles away, but knew well the pain of having a relative snatched on the other side of the border. Her son, Robert, was just 21 when he vanished in 2017.

As Torres flicked through social media posts describing the Biden administration’s rapid response to the abductions, she grew increasingly upset. Finally, after the Americans were found on Tuesday — two alive, two dead — she took to Twitter.

“I’m so angry I couldn’t sleep, thinking about how my U.S. government acted in Matamoros with the kidnappings,” she wrote in Spanish. What happened to the Americans was sad, she wrote. But at least they were recovered. “This only confirms that my U.S. government can help, and they didn’t, in the case of my son. WHY?”

More than 550 Americans are reported as missing in Mexico, a little-known facet of a broader tragedy that has honeycombed this country with mass graves. Soaring violence and government dysfunction have fueled a crisis that’s left at least 112,150 people missing, according to government records here.

Americans make up a small part of that ghastly toll. And they are a tiny percentage of the millions of U.S. citizens who travel to Mexico every year for tourism, work and family visits. But just as there’s been an uproar in Mexico over the government’s all-out effort to find the four Americans, compared with its far more limited search for its own abducted citizens, relatives of the Americans still missing are asking why their loved ones haven’t been a higher priority for Washington.

Mexico's Gulf Cartel delivers 'kidnappers' — and an apology

“We see that when the U.S. government makes strong statements, there are results,” said Geovanni Barrios, a lawyer whose 17-year-old son, a U.S. citizen, was abducted in the border city of Reynosa in 2008. “But there aren’t only four Americans disappeared in Mexico. We don’t see [the U.S. government] making these statements about the hundreds of other missing Americans.”

The kidnappings on March 3 in Matamoros, across the border from Brownsville, Tex., drew attention in part because a passerby recorded men in bulletproof vests dragging three of the victims into a truck a few blocks from the Rio Grande in broad daylight. The video quickly went viral, and the abductions were swept up in a turbocharged American political debate. Lawmakers in Washington were already expressing alarm about Mexican cartels’ exports of fentanyl, which accounts for two-thirds of overdose deaths in the United States. Some Republicans have called for military strikes on the armed gangs.



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