Yesterday evening, Mexico’s Defense Ministry (SEDENA) announced that eight military personnel -- an army officer and seven soldiers -- had been detained in connection with the June killing of 22 people in the state of Mexico. It’s still unclear what the individuals have been accused of, but the fact that authorities are moving forward with an investigation into the alleged massacre is a positive sign.
It is also somewhat surprising considering that both state and federal authorities have maintained that there is no evidence of wrongdoing in the June incident. Only recently does there appear to have been a shift in the official attitude, with President Enrique Peña Nieto telling reporters in New York that the Attorney General’s Office was pursuing a full investigation into the alleged massacre.
According to El Universal, a SEDENA press statement released last night asserts that the men are being held in a military jail “for their alleged role in offenses against military discipline, disobedience and breach of duties in the case of the officer, and a breach of duties in the case of the enlisted personnel.”
Fortunately, because of reforms to Mexico’s Military Code of Justice passed earlier this year, a military investigation does not prevent civil authorities from investigating and prosecuting alleged abuses separately.
The Associated Press, which has been keeping tabs on the story ever since it noted suspicious irregularities at the site of the killings in the days after the June 30 incident, offers a summary of its findings in its coverage of the detentions:
At least five spots inside the warehouse where the bloodshed occurred showed the same pattern: One or two closely placed bullet pocks, surrounded by a mass of spattered blood, giving the appearance that some of those killed had been standing against a wall and shot at about chest level.
This fits with the statements of witnesses who told the press that all but one of the 22 had been executed after being interrogated.
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- In an interview with Bloomberg earlier this week, Mexico’s Peña Nieto told journalists that he does not support legalizing marijuana, saying doing so would be “opening the door to a large intrusion of drugs that is very damaging to the population.” The position stands in stark contrast with the position of Colombia’s Juan Manuel Santos, who in a recent Global Commission on Drug Policy report called for a new shift in drug policy, saying: “If that means legalizing, and the world thinks that’s the solution, I will welcome it.”
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- Mark Schneider of the International Crisis Group has an op-ed in the Miami Herald in which he asserts that “international mediators need to have a virtually permanent presence in Caracas” in order to persuade both the Venezuelan opposition and the government of President Nicolas Maduro to establish dialogue on certain issues, like naming new members to an independent electoral council.
- In a Foreign Policy column published this week, conservative figure Roger Noriega criticizes the agreement reached in Latin America regarding the rotation of a regional UN Security Council seat, which is more or less guaranteed to Venezuela. Asserting that regional leaders will regret allowing the Maduro government to represent Latin America’s interests on the council, he also attacks the Obama administration for not challenging Venezuela’s bid. Obama, Noriega asserts, has no constructive agenda in the Americas compared to “the Bush years,” in which “the U.S. foreign policy team of which [Noriega] was a part helped save Colombia, doubled aid to the region, and offered mutually beneficial trade to Central American and Andean countries.”
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