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Kidnappings in Mexico up by 9%

August 18, 2008 | 10:30 am

The number of kidnappings in Mexico grew by 9.1% in the first five months of the year, according to figures published this week.

The statistics, from the anti-kidnapping branch of the attorney general's office (Procuraduria General de la Republica, PGR, in Spanish), will serve to justify the fear currently gripping the country over insecurity and high crime levels. A march is planned at the end of the month in Mexico City to protest the rising level of crime and public insecurity.

The discovery this month of the bullet-riddled body of a 14-year-old kidnap victim prompted a public outcry in Mexico as kidnappings rise and drug-related violence takes a heavy toll on the civilian population.

Since the body of Fernandez Marti, the son of the owner of a chain of sport shops in Mexico, was found in the trunk of a stolen Chevy after his parents had reportedly paid a hefty ransom for his safe return, political posturing over the issue of high crime levels has been all over the press.

Mexico City Mayor Marcelo Ebrard announced a program of anti-crime reforms, and he and President Felipe Calderon have agreed to meet to discuss the problem to come up with some new solutions.

Ebrard is a member of the left-wing PRD — Revolutionary Democratic Party — which refuses to recognize Calderon, a conservative, as the legitimate president after 2006's disputed election, which Calderon won by a whisker.

But the tragic death of Fernandez outraged the nation, pushing its leaders into action. His funeral was attended by Calderon, and so many flowers were left in respect for the boy that they had to be trucked to the cemetery.

There are between 62.5 and 64.6 kidnappings a month in Mexico now — more than two per day.

It appears that some kidnappings are, to some degree, aided by Mexico’s own law enforcement branches — two police officers have been arrested on suspicion of involvement in Fernandez's case.

— Deborah Bonello in Mexico City

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