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By: Paula Chouza / Inés Santaeulalia ElPais
Gunmen stormed into the house of the Vega family in October 2008 in the state of Tamaulipas. The wife hid in the bathroom with her children and called the emergency number, 066, to alert the authorities.
|Image of the arrests by the Navy in June 2011 of six men who have never reappeared|
Local police illegally detained 8 friends who were coming back from hunting in Zacatecas in December 2011. Two escaped. Hours later, security cameras located in a gas station captured the police officers delivering the men to unidentified men. Seven police officers were indicted for collaborating with organized crime. No trial has yet begun for the officers detained and nothing is known about the whereabouts of the 6 remaining friends.
The wife of José Fortino Martínez darted to her car to follow a convoy of 14 vehicles, some with the logos of the navy, who minutes before had raided her house and taken her husband without a warrant. The police operation made several stops around Nuevo Laredo (Located in the north part of Tamaulipas). At a gas station, the wife asked one of the officers about the whereabouts of her husband. The officer threatened to shoot her if she continued following them. That night on June 2011 they took 6 men. Photos from the families prove of the involvement by the military. The Navy acknowledged that they moved them to the town of Miguel Alemán in the same state “for their safety”. Today, their whereabouts are still unknown.
The missing, are the greatly ignored from the previous 6 years in México. They are watching Felipe Calderon, who is now currently a visiting fellow at Harvard University. Under his term there were at least 60,000 deaths (more deaths are reported elsewhere) during the ongoing drug war. More than 35,000 signatures were collected on the website Change.org in a petition saying that “Calderon is responsible for the deaths of thousands” and that he should not be able to teach in the U.S. They describe him as a “man covered in blood.” All of the previous cases are documented in the report by Human Rights Watch (HRW) The Missing of Mexico, which includes the 249 disappearances since 2006, of which 149 have benefited from the involvement of security forces. The report details the involvement in 20 cases from the Navy, 13 from the federal police, and 95 from local police. In the case of the Navy, the paper proves that there is a pattern that repeats in all interventions, a modus operandi (method of operation) which suggests that higher authorities were aware of the situation (The supreme commander of the military is the president of the Republic (Mexico)).
The executive director of the Americas by the Human Rights Watch, José Miguel Vivanco, said that these are just a few among “thousands of cases”. The report, which in addition to the forced disappearances, denounces the mistreatment towards the families of the disappeared and shows little or no interest from local and federal authorities to solve the cases, puts the spotlight on the previous administration, but challenges the new administration of Enrique Peña Nieto to get into a well that hides thousands of names. "Calderón’s government ignored the case for 5 years with great arrogance. This government, which has no responsibility for what happened, has shown sensitivity towards the issue” Vivanco said by phone before traveling to the U.S., where he says that he will continue to monitor the government’s performance.
For now, the secretariat for Legal Affairs and Human Rights of the Ministry of National Defense (Asuntos Jurídicos y de Derechos Humanos de la Secretaría de Defensa Nacional), Lía Limón said on Wednesday of the existence of a database with the names of 27,523 people missing between 2006 and 2012. The head of the Attorney General’s Office, Murillo Karam said on Thursday that he has found an Attorney General (PGR) “very pulverized” that needs to be “reassembled”, but vowed to search for the missing. “I cannot commit to finding them dead or alive, but in what I can commit to is that we will be doing everything in our power.” Similarly, the interior minister, Miguel Angel Osorio, announced on Friday of the creation of a special commission to search for missing persons, with the help of several institutions.
“The government of Peña Nieto may be tempted to not investigate the disappearances because it is the tradition; Mexico is the country of impunity. But there are various factors that can change things such as: a strong movement of victims, international attention on Mexico, and the existence of a strong flow of opinions against impunity in Mexico,” said Sergio Aguayo, a professor at the Center for International Studies at the College of Mexico. “This is a very serious case of violation of human rights. I think there are elements to open a judicial inquiry against Calderon and his top officials,” he adds. In November 2011, a document with more than 20,000 signatures filed a complaint with the International Criminal Court of La Haya towards the government at the time and to the drug traffickers “for war crimes and crimes against humanity.” Aguayo, who did not sign the document at the time, ensured that if he knew that there was an official list with thousands of names on it, then he would have signed it.
|Raúl Plascencia Villanueva|
The president of the National Commission of Human Rights, Raúl Plascencia Villanueva, said that in recent years the Commission has found 30 cases of forced disappearances with the involvement of law enforcement and believes that each of these should be resolved independently. “There seems to be direct responsibility by some public servants, but I would not dare make anymore wider accusations.”
|"The navy should say what they did to my son" -|
Photo by:Sanjuana Martínez
The start of an investigation to solve the disappearances would provide an alleviation in part of the frustration of many who been familiar victims, the main victims of official inaction. In June 2011, 10 armed and masked men wearing Navy uniforms, took René Azael Jasso, a 26 year old taxi driver, from his own house. It was the last time his family saw him. Oziel, the victim’s brother, says now: “We have tried to be strong, really strong. It feels really bad coming home from work and seeing my mother crying, coming home from work and seeing my dad sitting in a chair, without saying a single word.”