The Mexican "drug war" has taken a turn for the worse. Since the return of the old guard Party of the Institutional Revolution (PRI) to the presidency in 2012, violence has expanded and increasingly targeted political activists, journalists and human rights defenders. And two recent massacres committed by government officials indicate that the country may be headed towards a rerun of the "dirty wars" of the 1970s, in which the government hunted down and killed or jailed thousands of activists.
It is time for international public opinion to shift Mexico from the "democratic" to the "authoritarian" column. The upcoming Senate hearings on President Barack Obama´s nomination for the new US Ambassador to Mexico, Maria Echaveste, present an excellent opportunity to take a hard look at the crude reality south of the Rio Grande.
This past June 30th, soldiers brutally executed 21 youth in a warehouse in the town of Tlatlaya, less than 90 miles from Mexico City. Both federal and local officials immediately covered up the incident by announcing that the dead were supposedly kidnappers and had died in a gun fight. It took independent reporting by the Associated Press, and a public exposé by a witness in the Mexican media, in order for the massacre to come to light. It is now clear that the Mexican military, which has received billions of dollars in US assistance in recent years, assassinated dozens of youth in cold blood.
This past September 26th, another massacre has confirmed suspicions about the use of the "drug war" as a cover for political repression. In the city of Iguala, less than 50 miles from Tlatlaya, local police opened fire on dozens of peaceful, unarmed youth activists, all students at a local teacher training school renowned for its commitment to social change and progressive education. Six people were killed, over a dozen injured and more than 40 have disappeared. One cadaver later appeared with his face brutally skinned, sending a clear message that the choice of victims had not been accidental. This weekend various mass graves were discovered nearby with the burned corpses of what are likely the students...
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