Alexis Cervantes: The disappearance of a basketball player in Michoacán reveals the humanitarian crisis in the region

Alexis Cervantes, during a training session, in 2019.
Alexis Cervantes, during a training session, in 2019.Giants of Jalisco

A black hole of violence surrounds the hot land zone. The region between Jalisco, Colima and Michoacán have made this last state the most violent in the country. Michoacán will close 2021 as the region with the most murders in the country. According to the Executive Secretariat of the National Public Security System (SESNSP), from January to November of this year there were 2,016 homicides in Michoacán, which represents more than six homicides a day or almost every four hours in a region that does not reach five million population.

According to data from the Michoacán State Prosecutor’s Office (FGE), from 2019 to date there are 3,800 disappeared people in Michoacán: an average of five a day that Alejandro Encinas, undersecretary of Human Rights, Population and Migration in the Ministry of the Interior (Segob) described in front of the United Nations a “humanitarian crisis.”

The latest case is that of basketball player Alexis Cervantes, a professional from the Mexican National Basketball League (LNBP), who was reported missing in Michoacán. The Federation confirmed that the last time he was seen was on December 22 at around two thirty in the afternoon in the vicinity of the Los Reyes municipality bus station, where he had participated in some games amateurs end of the year, says the newspaper Reform.

In the investigation of the Prosecutor’s Office, it was learned that Cervantes boarded a taxi in Los Reyes bound for Guadalajara, the capital of Jalisco. The vehicle was driven by the taxi driver Marcos Sandoval Julián, who is also missing. According to a statement, Cervantes was traveling to meet his family in Guasave, Sinaloa, to spend Christmas and the end of the year holidays. However, it never came.

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Investigations indicate that the First Plus line bus that the player boarded could not reach Guadalajara, so the player, 31 years old and almost two meters tall, had to return to Michoacán. There he chose to take a taxi. Through social networks, the official account of the Mexican Basketball League shared a message from the family: “We ask people who have it to consider my brother’s situation, he has no problems with anyone, he has always dedicated himself to sport. For us it is very distressing, we ask them to touch their hearts, to let him continue with his life, his career and his trade ”.

According to the records of the United Nations Committee against Forced Disappearance of the UN, in Mexico there are 94,000 thousand disappearances, and the Mexican authorities indicate that the year will end with more than 100,000 disappeared. In this macabre count, Michoacán is the third territory with the highest number of disappearances and the hope of the player’s family is that, in the case of that region, approximately 50% of the disappeared are found alive, according to data from the State prosecutor’s office.

However, the disappearance of Alexis Cervantes reveals the putrefaction in which the State is immersed due to the violence and lack of control of the armed groups. Until 2012 the region was controlled by the Knights Templar, but in recent years the Jalisco Nueva Generación Cartel controls the area and fights with blood and fire for to conquer new populations in the hands of self-defense groups.

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The consequence is uncontrolled violence that increases year after year. As a reference, during the six-year term of former President Enrique Peña Nieto, there were 6,943 murders from December 2012 to November 2018, while in the first three years of Andrés Manuel López Obrador’s mandate there were 6,453 crimes. For the experts, the violence unleashed is a consequence of the fragmentation of the violent groups towards almost familiar and less vertical structures where self-defense groups and cartels mix in a murky line that only spews out more crimes. Added to the atomization of violence is the incorporation of new criminal categories, beyond drug trafficking, which add more gasoline to the Michoacan fire.

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George Holan

George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.

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