Tuesday, October 21, 2014

México: Country Facing Its Worst Human Rights Crisis Since 1968 Massacre of Protesters

According to The Latin American TribuneMéxico is experiencing its worst human rights crisis since the October 1968 massacre of student protesters in this capital’s Tlatelolco square, Americas director of Human Rights Watch (HRW) said in an interview published on Monday (October 20).

“The crisis that is sweeping México since the (2000-2006) term of (President Felipe) Calderón is, I would say, the most serious... since the times of Tlatelolco,” HRW’s José Miguel Vivanco told El Universal newspaper.

Vivanco cited the case of 43 young people who have been missing since September 26 after police attacked students from Ayotzinapa Rural Normal School, a teachers college in the southern state of Guerrero, leaving six dead and 25 wounded.

“There have been many people who disappeared in Mexican history, but I don’t know of a single case of this magnitude in real time (in all of) Latin America in the last 30 years,” he said.

“Impunity is the only explanation” for why such events continue to happen, Vivanco said.

COMMENT: The protection of fundamental human rights, such as the continuing disappearance of law-abiding citizens over decades of time represent a rule-stick by which all countries will ultimately be judged.

In this regard, the México of today has little difference from that of centuries ago. A sad commentary. 

President Enrique Peña Nieto’s first reaction to the mass abduction was “to wash his hands” of the matter by saying that the federal government could not do the job of state authorities, as if Guerrero “were Guatemala,” the head of HRW’s Americas desk said.

The current administration thinks that public discussion of crime and human rights projects “an image of an unsafe country,” Vivanco said.

Peña Nieto’s strategy is to sweep such problems under the rug, resorting to damage control “only if there is a scandal of gigantic and international proportions,” according to Vivanco.

But thanks to the missing students and to the still-unfolding scandal of Tlatlaya, which involved soldiers summarily killing at least eight civilians and then altering the scene to make it appear the fatalities died in a gunfight, the Mexican government’s image is now “in the dirt,” Vivanco said.

“Like the previous administration, it seems the current one is not inclined to do anything to change the existing impunity,” he said.

“Public servants, police and military personnel have the certainty that they will not be held accountable,” Vivanco said.

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