Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Report: Mexican Federal Police Involved in Ayotzinapa Disappearances

On Sunday, Proceso magazine published an investigative report that directly contradicts the official account of the disappearance of the 43 students of Ayotzinapa. The investigation, which is based on leaked government documents and a Guerrero state report on the events leading up to the September 26 disappearances, implicates federal police officials in the crime.

According to Proceso, the Guerrero report shows that federal forces were aware of the students’ protests in Iguala that day and were watching them closely. The magazine claims the report clearly shows that federal police joined in the repression of the student demonstration, in which officers and unknown gunmen shot and killed at least six people.

The article also claims that internal documents from the attorney general’s office question government of President Enrique Peña Nieto’s handling of key witnesses and suspects in the case. The documents reportedly show that the main witnesses all bore signs of torture and abuse at the hands of police interrogators.

As Proceso author Anabel Hernandez told HuffPost for the latter’s helpful rundown of the magazine investigation, the piece reveals that the Peña Nieto administration is purposefully covering up the extent to which corrupt federal officials knew about or even facilitated the disappearances. “We have information that proves the federal government knew what was happening in the moment it was happening, and participated in it,” Hernandez said.

If true, the allegation would prove a point that security analysts and human rights groups have been arguing for years: state or federal police are not necessarily less corrupt than their local counterparts. This is an important argument, as it refutes the logic of “centralization equals greater police accountability,” which underpins Peña Nieto’s plans to place local police under state control.

News Briefs
  • Today’s headlines contain another story with alarming implications for Mexico’s insecurity crisis and rickety justice system. According to Milenio, yesterday a judge in Mexico State ordered the release of two women held for over five months following the alleged army massacre of 22 suspects in June. As the AP reports, newly-inaugurated CNDH President Raul Plascencia has said that the two were tortured and blackmailed into corroborating the official version of the deaths.
  • Mexico’s El Universal has an in-depth investigation which illustrates the power that the Guerreros Unidos gang has in the state of Guerrero, describing how after the disappearance of the 43 the group ordered locals to support corrupt local police and to man road blocks outside their communities.
  • Yesterday saw a troubling development for security policy in Honduras. For the first time in the country’s history, an active-duty military general has been named to head the country’s Security Ministry. El Heraldo reports that General Julian Pacheco Tinoco will take office on January 15, and that he will also retain his current position as head of state intelligence.
  • Haitian President Michel Martelly has not yet announced who will replace ousted Prime Minister Laurent Lamothe. But in a press conference yesterday, a spokesperson said that the president intends to follow the other recent recommendations of an advisory commission, including releasing political prisoners and ordering the resignation of an electoral council.
  • In Venezuela yesterday, thousands of government supporters took part in a rally to mark the anniversary of the country’s new constitution and protest impending sanctions against Chavista officials. President Nicolas Maduro appears to have taken advantage of the rally to announce some important shifts in his administration moving forward. El Universal reports that in a speech yesterday, the president said he would delegate his political agenda to Vice President Jorge Arreaza and his cabinet in order to focus his efforts on “winning the economic war.” The paper also notes that in response to the U.S. sanctions, Maduro suggested tasking a commission of jurists to look over the human rights abuses committed by “imperialist countries.”
  • The Cuban government continues to roll out important economic reforms on the island. As BBC Mundo reports, on Monday officials issued a resolution that allows for companies receiving foreign investment to negotiate salaries on more favorable terms for workers. Meanwhile, in a Sunday editorial the New York Times issued yet another call for U.S. President Barack Obama to take executive action in order to loosen the terms of the U.S. embargo on the country.
  • The NYT reports that the Peruvian government has said that Greenpeace is refusing to hand over the names of the activists accused of damaging the country’s famed Nazca Lines, and that authorities are considering seeking their extradition.
  • A vote on a Colombian bill to legalize medicinal marijuana in the country that has been gaining support among policymakers has been delayed. As Radio RCN reports, the Senate will not take up the bill until March of next year. The Uribista opposition has said it would oppose the measure, and Uribe himself argues that a presidential decree alone would suffice to allow patients to treat their illness with the drug.
  • The Economist has a nuanced look at the way that machismo plays out in Latin America, noting that it is hardly a cultural phenomenon exclusive to the region.  The magazine highlights particularly interesting violence prevention programs run by an NGO in Nicaragua, which focus on deconstructing gang members’ unhealthy attitudes towards masculine identity.