Water Shortages Threaten to Increase Violence and Disappearances in Mexico

The U.S. government must fund water-saving efforts in Mexico if it wants to quell the nation’s drug violence

February 15, 2023 | Source: Scientific American | by Jordan Kinard

In 2006, Mexico declared war against drug traffickers in the wake of escalating inter-cartel warfare. Since then, there have been more than 300,000 murders in the country, a death toll escalated by violence between law enforcement, the military and the cartels. An official list of the missing has risen to over 100,000 people, called los desaparecidos—the disappeared. Many of them are presumably among the ­­roughly 52,000 unidentified bodies in Mexican morgues. The disappeared are, legally speaking, neither alive nor dead; they include people whose remains are undiscovered or unidentified, and others who may be still alive and held in captivity.

In 2021 and 2022, with the No Están Solas project, I worked with Mexican human rights advocates who were trying to locate and identify the remains of some of the disappeared. I learned the crisis in Mexico is one with many faces: cartel violence, forced migration, and clashes between the Mexican government, its people and the drug traffickers who offer jobs, protection and resources, often through coercion.