Prosecutors in western Mexico located on Tuesday 23 sets of skeletal remains in a lakeside community known for its highly acidic hot springs and mud pits.
The prosecutors office in Michoacan said only eight of the bodies had been identified, mainly by clothing or dental records.
The rest of the bodies were so badly deteriorated that DNA testing might be necessary, the office said Sunday.
It is unclear if criminals intentionally dumped the bodies in the area known as Los Negritos, after the black mud facial masks popular there, so they would disappear more quickly.
The area is near the town of La Barca, where authorities in 2013 found more than five dozen bodies in mass graves linked to the Jalisco cartel.
Drug cartels in Mexico frequently using clandestine burial pits to dispose of the bodies of kidnapping victims or rivals. Mexico currently has more than 100,000 people listed as missing.
After ordering the expulsion of the Missionaries of Charity established by Mother Teresa, the Nicaraguan government has now gone after one of the few local newspapers that dared to report on the nuns being removed.
Two drivers for the independent newspaper La Prensa have been jailed and police raided the homes of two reporters, according to an employee of the newspaper.
The reporters had covered the expulsion on Thursday of 18 nuns of the Missionaries of Charity after the government of President Daniel Ortega had ordered the organization closed in late June.
It came amid a crackdown by Ortega’s government against opponents and almost any civic organization not allied with his regime.
The La Prensa employee, who asked their name not be used for security reasons, said Friday that the two drivers had been taken to the infamous “El Chipote” prison, where many political and media figures are being held.
The government has imprisoned nearly 190 people who are considered political prisoners by human rights groups and the U.S. State Department, including 7 people who could have challenged Ortega for the presidency in his reelection last November.
Renata Holmann, daughter of Juan Lorenzo Holmann, the jailed manager of La Prensa, said Thursday that her father suffered from chronic illnesses and additional health problems acquired in prison since his arrest last August.
Holmann was arrested when police raided and took over the La Prensa offices.
He was later sentenced to nine years in prison for supposed money laundering — a charge often lodged against government opponents or journalists.
The closure of the local branch of the Missionaries of Charity brought to 758 the number of nongovernmental organizations shuttered in Nicaragua over the last four years.
The government says the groups didn’t comply with a 2020 requirement to register as “foreign agents.”
While Ortega started by cancelling groups he viewed as having ties to the opposition, the government now seems intent on wiping the landscape clean of any organization it does not control.
The Missionaries of Charity had been in Nicaragua for 34 years, operating a children’s center, a home for girls and a facility for the elderly.
The missionaries offered children music and theater classes as well as vocational training for child victims of violence.
The closures have been aimed at a wide breadth of groups, among them the Society of Pediatrics, the Nicaraguan Development Institute, the Confederation of Nicaraguan Professional Associations and the Nicaragua Internet Association.
Also already closed were the Cocibolca Equestrian Center, the western city of Leon’s Rotary Club and the Operation Smile Association that financed free surgeries for children with cleft lip and cleft palate until it was cancelled in March. A prominent businessman associated with that group had participated in antigovernment protests in 2018.
Many of the organizations were dedicated to helping the most marginalized people in an impoverished nation.
Ortega has accused nongovernmental groups of working on behalf of foreign interests to destabilize his government.
The United Nations (UN) estimated this week that the world’s population will reach 8 billion on Nov. 15 and that India will replace China as the world’s most populous nation next year.
In a report released on World Population Day, the UN also said global population growth fell below 1% in 2020 for the first time since 1950.
John Wilmoth, director of the UN Population Division, said at a news conference to release the report “World Population Prospects 2022,” that the date when the U.N.’s projection line crosses 8 billion is Nov. 15.
But, he noted, “we do not pretend that that’s the actual date … and we think that the uncertainty is at least plus or minus a year.”
According to the latest UN projections, the world’s population could grow to around 8.5 billion in 2030, 9.7 billion in 2050 and a peak of around 10.4 billion during the 2080s.
It is forecast to remain at that level until 2100.
The report says more than half the projected increase in population up to 2050 will be concentrated in just eight countries: Congo, Egypt, Ethiopia, India, Nigeria, Pakistan, the Philippines and Tanzania.
Deforestation in the Brazilian Amazon during the first half of 2022 broke all records, a measure of the increasing destruction taking place under the presidency of Jair Bolsonaro.
Satellite images taken between January and June show 4,000 square kilometers (1,500 square miles) of forest destroyed, more than in any six month period in the seven years of record-keeping under the current methodology. The extent is four times the size of New York City.
What makes the statistic more remarkable is that the forest cutting is taking place during the rainy season.
Deforestation is historically higher in the drier second half of the year when it is easier to access remote areas on the region’s unpaved roads.
Brazil also will hold presidential elections in October, which typically reduces law enforcement in the Amazon. Bolsonaro will run for a second 4-year term.
Currently he is trailing former President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva in polls.
The area destroyed in the first half of 2022 is 80% larger than the same period in 2018, the year before Bolsonaro took office, according to an analysis from the Amazon Environmental Research Institute, or IPAM, a Brazilian nonprofit.
Around half of the felling occurred on public lands, according to the IPAM analysis.
The pattern in Brazil is that criminals seize public land expecting that the areas will be legalized for agriculture or cattle-raising in the future.
Other illegal real estate and timber transactions plus lack of enforcement contribute to the increasing deforestation rates, according to Ane Alencar, IPAM’s science director.
“Those who control the Amazon don’t want it preserved. The standing forest has no value in today’s Amazon,” Alencar told the Associated Press in a phone interview.
The most rapacious cutting took place in Amazonas state, overtaking both Para and Mato Grosso, which historically register more tree loss.
That is a worrisome trend, as Amazonas is deep in the rainforest and has remained pristine relative to other Amazon regions.