The horror

Reforma 05/12/17
Carmen Aristegui

Barely had the Mexican government replied to the report from the International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS), which states that “Mexico was the country where more people died violently in 2016”, only behind Syria, when horror and violence once again reared up their heads. Puebla, Tamaulipas, and Veracruz were shaken, along with the rest of the country, by a chain of events that challenged to a “technical” debate between the government and international specialists. In under a week, we were shown the videos of Palmarito with soldiers and civilians dead in circumstances where one side and the other perform criminal acts. The overwhelming images show the shooting down of a soldier from behind, and the execution of a civilian, with a head shot, while lying on the ground. It is impossible not to recall Tlatlaya with an official version confronted by videos.

Still unrecovered from the horror of Palmarito, we Mexicans found out—hours later—that in Tamaulipas, on Mother’s Day no less, activist Miriam Elizabeth Rodriguez Martinez, of the Group of Missing Family Members of San Fernando, had been murdered in an act of cowardice, by a commando of armed men. Miriam became one of the most important figures in the search for missing people and for justice in Tamaulipas. She took up that cause seeking for her own daughter, Karen Alejandra, whose remains she found, in 2014, in a clandestine grave in San Fernando. She investigated and found evidence of the culprits, which she turned over to the authorities. She continued to help others in the search for the missing people.

One of the people she identified as the killer of her daughter was captured and sent to prison. In March this year, that person escaped through a tunnel, together with 29 other prisoners, from the Ciudad Victoria jail. When she heard of the escape, Miriam requested protection, which was not provided right away, as should have been the case. She was shot down on the evening of May 10 at her own home. Miriam represented hundreds of families and orphans of San Fernando, that place which was marked by the murder—among many others—of 72 migrants in March 2010. Her murder, Amnesty International says, “…reveals the danger faced daily by those who seek the more than 30,000 missing people in the country”.

Following the horror of Palmarito and Miriam’s death to boot, we heard the news—only hours later—of the five men executed in three different areas of the suburbs of Veracruz-Boca del Rio. The Jalisco Nueva Generacion Cartel claimed the murders leaving a sign, next to the bodies, to announce that they would start the “cleansing” in that place. No one knows what these murders forebode.

In Mexico, IISS reports, 23,000 died last year alone—63 people per day. This places our country above Afghanistan, with 17,000, and Iraq, with 16,000; only below Syria, with 50,000, according to the Annual Armed Conflicts Report 2017, published in London. Antonnio Sampaio, associate researcher of Security and Development at IISS, noted—according to BBC World—that “…it is very rare that criminal violence should reach similar levels to armed conflict… but this has happened in the North Triangle of Central America (Honduras, Guatemala, and El Salvador) and, particularly, in Mexico”.  The specialist stated that, while in the North Triangle there has been some modest improvement, in the case of Mexico the matter is “worsening”.

The Mexican government denies that we are facing an “international armed conflict” and questions that it should be given a “…similar treatment to that of nations with completely different phenomena, that are not comparable or measurable against one another… (The report) uses figures whose origin is unknown, reflecting estimates based on uncertain methodologies, and applying legal terms erroneously”.

If the Mexican government does not like what the report from international experts says, let them explain then: What are the differences between what happens in war zones and what happened in Mexico this week alone?


Text translated by the Instituto VIF from the original published by Reforma.