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Rage One (blog)

miércoles, julio 16, 2008

Mexico Week in Review (7/7/08)

Published since 1994, 'Mexico Week In Review' is a service of the Committee of Indigenous Solidarity (CIS). CIS is a Washington, D.C. based activist group committed to the ongoing struggles of Indigenous peoples in the Americas. CIS is actively supporting the struggles of the Indigenous peoples of Mexico while simultaneously combating related structures of oppression within our own communities.

To view newsletter archives, visit:

"Para Todos, Todo; Para Nosotros Nada"


For the past two weeks, some 200 troops from Mexico's elite Federal Preventive Police (PFP) have occupied the village of Zimapán, Hidalgo, the scene of protests over a toxic waste site that the Spanish firm Befesa is scheduled to open this month. Heavily armed troops-some in ski masks and full riot gear-arrived in military-type trucks backed up by helicopters June 12, and continue to patrol the town's streets. The former bishops of Chiapas, Samuel Ruiz García and
Ra?l Vera L?pez, have demanded the withdrawal of the PFP. Residents of the local community of Boti?a, where the plant is being built, have joined with the civic group Todos Somos Zimapán in calling for a general municipality-wide plebiscite on the waste facility.

Source: 07/11


In a grim disclosure, Mexico?s Ministry of Foreign Affairs (SRE) recently released its count of the number of Mexican migrants who died struggling to reach El Norte in 2008 so far. Until June 9, the SRE documented the deaths of 117 migrants who perished while attempting to cross the Mexico-US border. According to the SRE, most of the deaths, or 72 to be precise, were registered in the state of Texas. The McAllen area of the Lone Star State proved to be the deadliest point for would-be border crossers, with 26 undocumented Mexicans losing their lives in the zone. Additionally, 14 migrants died in the El Paso area and 4 around Eagle Pass. Nonetheless, the dangerous terrain surrounding Tucson, Arizona, was the deadliest single zone for migrants, claiming 40 lives during the first half of the year. The Arizona numbers suggest migrant deaths could be on a downswing in comparison to the last two years. Still, it's important to note the reported deaths were registered before some of the hottest days of the year pound the border region.

The US Border Patrol's Tucson Sector reported 204 migrant deaths during the 2007 fiscal year that ended on September 30 of last year. The death toll represented a 21 percent increase from fiscal year 2006, when 165 deaths were registered. However, the Tucson-based
Human Rights Coalition reported a higher death toll for the region than did the Border Patrol. The immigrant rights group cited 237 deaths for FY 2007, a number 32 higher than in FY 2006, when the coalition documented 205 deaths.

In 2007, 409 Mexican migrants died in the entire Mexico-US border region, according to the SRE. Official Mexican migrant death statistics for this year report most victims were individuals in the 18 to 45-year-old age category, with the death of one minor recorded. Since 2001, the SRE has tallied the deaths of 2,956 Mexican migrants in the northern borderlands. The federal agency has identified the main causes of death as dehydration (1062), drowning (583) and vehicle accidents (247). In terms of geographic origin, ill-fated migrants from the states of Mexico, Guanajuato and Mexico City topped the list of victims.

Sources: Frontera NorteSur (FNS): 07/08; La Jornada: 07/06


On June 30 El Heraldo de Leon, a newspaper based in Leon in the central Mexican state of Guanajuato, released two graphic videotapes showing police agents from Leon's Special Tactical Group (GET) torturing other agents during training sessions. The victims, who had reportedly volunteered, were subjected to a practice known as the tehuacanazo, in which mineral water is forced up the nose, and were threatened with the pocito, in which the subject's head is submerged in excrement. In one scene, a trainee collapses and throws up; another agent then pushes him into his own vomit. Leon police chief Carlos Tornero Salinas said the tapes were made in April and that the training went on for 160 hours over the course of 12 days. The sessions were conducted by an unidentified person of English nationality, according to Mayor Vicente Guerrero Reynoso, a member of the center-right National Action Party (PAN) of Mexican president Felipe Calderon Hinojosa.

(Note: Narco News has reported that the company responsible for the training is Risks Incorporated of Miami, Florida, and Great Britain, Narco News has learned. The Mexican daily El Universal identified the leaders of the torture workshop as "Jerry Wilson" of Great Britain and Cuban-Mexican Gerardo Arrechea on July 3, but officials refused to identify the company for which they worked. Source:

Leon public safety secretary Alvar Cabeza de Vaca Apendinni acknowledged on June 30 that GET agents had received the training "because we need to have a special group to respond to certain conditions" due to the spread of organized crime in the city and the state. "It's extreme training for extreme conditions," he said. The course was to prepare the agents to deal with "high- stress" situations, police chief Tornero explained on July 1. "This doesn't imply...that the training was for the application of methods of torture." He said the tortures were just simulations, and complained that by airing the videos journalists were trying "to discredit the institution [the police department], one way or another." "Please, be more ethical, be more responsible," Mayor Guerrero Reynoso told reporters. "You're doing a lot of damage to society."

On June 30--the day of the Guanajuato torture revelations--in Washington, DC, US president George W. Bush signed a supplemental appropriations bill into law providing $162 billion for the US occupation of Iraq and $465 million for the Merida Initiative [see Update #952]. This initiative, which critics call "Plan Mexico," allocates $400 million to Mexico and $65 million to Central American countries to fight drug trafficking. The law provides for 15% of Mexico's allotment to be held up until the US secretary of state certifies that the Mexican government is showing improvements in various areas, including respect for human rights by the military and police, and the prohibition of torture.

Source: Weekly News Update- Nicaragua Solidarity Network Of Greater New York: 07/06


Forensics experts began digging for secret graves on an army base in southwestern Mexico this week to find proof of government atrocities during the country's 1970s 'dirty war.' Using high-tech scanners, picks and shovels, they searched for bodies of community leaders who were abducted by soldiers, taken to the isolated base at the Pacific town of Atoyac de Alvarez in Guerrero state and never heard from again. Human rights advocates said it was the first time dirty war excavations have taken place at a Mexican military base. The team is headed by Argentine experts with experience digging up evidence from that nation's dirty war.

Atoyac de Alvarez was the base of an armed guerrilla movement in the 1970s, and some 470 people "disappeared" from the town when security forces and senior government officials crushed leftists and students. Survivors hope that finding the remains of their loved ones will lead to some sort of justice. "They say the bones talk. The bones will tell us what happened to
them; they will tell us if they were tortured," said Tita Radilla, whose father Rosendo was a community leader in Atoyac before he was arrested. "I know my father was at the military base. Witnesses who were there saw him, but they never saw him leave," she said. Rosendo, who built schools and medical clinics in Atoyac de Alvarez and briefly served as mayor, was arrested by soldiers for composing pro-guerilla songs, said Alejandro Juarez, a spokesman for a rights group who works with Radilla's lawyers.

The excavations could take several weeks as forensic specialists work alongside public prosecutors to scour the base's shooting range, basketball court, wells and latrines for signs of buried remains. "We have no idea how many bodies could be buried on this military base," Juarez said. "But what we do have are eyewitness accounts from people who were detained on the base and saw farmers, social activists and guerrilla sympathizers getting tortured, killed and buried there." The Institutional Revolutionary Party, or PRI, which ruled Mexico for seven decades until 2000, clamped down hard on leftists in the 1960s and 1970s, but few officials were ever prosecuted for their actions. Some 1,200 people disappeared nationwide, hundreds of them in Guerrero. Prosecutors say the campaign against them was mainly orchestrated by Luis Echeverria, the interior minister from 1964 to 1970 and president from 1970 to 1976.

Radilla's father disappeared in 1974 and she fought for decades to bring his case in front of an international court, putting pressure on the Mexican government to investigate. The Argentine forensic investigators have an international reputation and are often sent to probe massacre sites around the world, having conducted extensive searches at home.

Echeverria, who painted himself as a leftist, is widely blamed for a 1968 massacre in Mexico City when police opened fire on student protesters, killing hundreds, shortly before the city was due to host the Olympic Games. Now 86, Echeverria has been living quietly under house arrest in Mexico City since 2005 when prosecutors brought genocide charges against him. He has always denied any charges against him and attempts to bring him to trial have foundered. "The Mexican government has always been very careful to guard its image as a protector of human rights. That's why not much is known about this time period," said Radilla. "For us it was a catastrophe," she added.

Source: Reuters: 07/08


The Mexican government says UNESCO has added a Monarch butterfly reserve in southern Mexico to its list of World Heritage sites. Mexico's Foreign Relations Department says the reserve located in the states of Mexico and Michoacan was declared a natural heritage site by the U.N.'s World Heritage Committee meeting in Quebec City. Each September the butterflies begin a 3,400-mile (5,470-kilometer) journey from the forests of eastern Canada and parts of the U.S. to the central Mexican mountains. The voyage is considered an aesthetic and scientific wonder. But illegal logging and development threaten a delicate migratory route that has spanned across a million square miles (2.6 million square kilometers) for some 10,000 years.

Source: Associated Press: 07/08

The above articles were originally published and copyrighted by the
listed sources. These articles are offered for educational purposes
which CIS maintains is 'fair use' of copyrighted material as
provided for in section 107 of the US Copyright Law.

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