My article of this week in El Universal.
La versión en español la pueden ver haciendo clic aquí.
Tlatlaya and the Parallel World of the President
The country is going through its worst crisis in human rights in recent years. With a few weeks apart, two different agencies responsible for protecting the population, the army and a local police, perpetrated acts of harassment and violations of human rights against it. In the first case, the Mexican army is accused of having carried out extrajudicial executions of at least 15 people in the community of Tlatlaya, State of Mexico. In the second, the municipal police of Iguala and Cocula are accused of involvement in the murder of 6 people and the disappearance of 43 students from the Rural Teacher Training School (Normal) of Ayotzinapa in Guerrero.
The first of these cases has already been the subject of an investigation and a first report of the National Commission of Human Rights. This report, released on October 21st, concluded that "the elements of 102 Infantry Battalion of the Ministry of National Defense violated the right to life." Moreover, according to the report, "this violation is compounded by the fact that the arbitrary deprivation of life was made in a deliberate way, according to the victims’ recount, i.e., intentionally and with no justification whatsoever. In addition, the victim’s vulnerability must be assessed, since they had surrendered, and they witnessed how some of their teammates were put to death, before themselves losing their lives."
Finally: "The National Commission cannot fail to note the particular gravity of this case, given that three of the victims of the violence are adolescents (...). In this sense, the behavior of the responsible authority not only violates the right to life, but many international instruments (...) which places a duty on the State to adopt special measures of protection and assistance for children and adolescents under their jurisdiction."
On October 22, i,e,, the day after the submission of the report of the National Commission of Human Rights, in a relatively unusual event, the President held a public meeting with senior army commanders. The justification of this meeting was, to say the least, unconventional. It was nothing less than the opening of a branch of the Military bank (Banjercito) in Apatizngán, Michoacán. There, the President made a glowing tribute to our armed forces:
"To the Chairman of Banjercito, whom I thank for his message, which he has just now delivered, and that certainly leaves accredited how our Mexican army, our armed forces are loyal and devoted to good causes in our country."
"They are important to sustain the democratic institutions of our country. And they have been working precisely to support the work of the Mexican State in favor of Mexicans in various fields."
"And so, today, as President and Supreme Commander of the Armed Forces, this space gives me occasion to let faithful testimony of the gratitude, recognition and pride that we Mexicans feel of having armed forces which are loyal and devoted to Mexico."
So, at the stroke of a pen, the President reiterated his confidence in the Armed Forces, recognized his loyalty and his contribution to good causes in the country and even its role in sustaining democratic institutions (whatever that means). Of course, in his speech the President did not make the slightest mention of the issue of human rights or the Tlatlaya case. No one should be surprised by this speech. On the issues of security, violence, and respect for human rights, the President seems to be living in a parallel world where nothing happens, where everything is under control, and where the army is a force loyal and devoted to the best causes of the country. It is a pity that not everyone lives there.