On Dec. 9 Mexican authorities released 56 of the 69 people who had been in detention for more than a week on suspicion of “attacking public peace” during protests in Mexico City against the inauguration of President Enrique Peña Nieto. A total of 106 were reportedly arrested on a day that included violent confrontations between police and protesters and widespread property destruction, but 28 were quickly released. Judge María del Carmen Mora Brito of the Federal District (DF) court system ordered the Dec. 9 releases after “analyzing videos, testimonies and expert witnesses’ reports,” the DF Superior Court of Justice (TSJDF) announced in a communiqué. (Europa Press, Dec. 10)
The judge’s action followed a week of demonstrations against police repression and charges that agents had repeatedly attacked, beaten and arrested peaceful protesters and bystanders while failing to arrest the people who had been engaged in vandalism. There were also accusations that agents provocateurs had infiltrated the protests. Complaints about the police seemed to be supported by videos that circulated widely on the internet. One, a compilation by the student video collective Imágenes En Rebeldía, appears to show unprovoked police attacks, arrests of nonviolent protesters, and men dressed in civilian clothes and armed with crowbars and chains standing and walking among uniformed federal police agents behind metal barriers around the Chamber of Deputies building.
On Dec. 6 the DF Human Rights Commission (CDHDF) reported that the DF police had arrested at least 22 people arbitrarily and that four people showed signs of having been tortured. A total of 88 people claimed to have been arrested without justification, the governmental commission said; 15 youths were charged with taking part in vandalism on Juárez Avenue even though the vandalism occurred after the time of their arrests. Among the people arrested on Dec. 1 was Mircea Topolenau, a Romanian photographer covering the events for a magazine. CDHDF president Luis González Placencia noted that his organization was only reporting actions by the DF police and that it was up to the National Human Rights Commission (CNDH) to investigate alleged abuses by the federal police. (La Jornada, Mexico, Dec. 7)
On Dec. 7 the Mexican branch of the London-based human rights organization Amnesty International (AI) presented President Peña Nieto and Miguel Angel Mancera, the head of the DF government, with 20,000 signatures from Mexican citizens demanding an investigation of police abuses. “Every innocent person arrested, accused of a crime he or she didn’t commit, not only represents a tragedy in itself and a clear violation of human rights, but is also a reflection of a system of justice that has failed to try the guilty party and is maintaining impunity,” AI Mexico impact and mobilization coordinator Daniel Zapico said. (LJ, Dec. 8) Mancera took office on Dec. 5, succeeding Marcelo Ebrard; both men are members of the center-left Party of the Democratic Revolution (PRD), which has governed the DF since 1997.
Two protesters were seriously injured during the Dec. 1 protests. Drama teacher Francisco Kuykendall Leal was hit by a tear gas canister and was hospitalized with cranial injuries. He is an active supporter of The Other Campaign, a political movement inspired by the rebel Zapatista National Liberation Army (EZLN). Uriel Sandoval Díaz, a student majoring in environmental and climate change studies at the Autonomous University of Mexico City (UACM), lost an eye and suffered fractures when he was hit by a rubber bullet. “This struggle won’t end until poverty ends,” Uriel said from a wheelchair as he was being released from the General Hospital on Dec. 6. “An eye is nothing [when] every day thousands of human beings have nothing to eat.” (Kaos en la Red, Dec. 4, from Desinformémonos; Milenio, Mexico, Dec. 7)
In related news, an online petition has been started calling on Harvard University president Drew Gilpin Faust to withdraw the offer of a fellowship at the university’s John F. Kennedy School of Government to outgoing president Felipe Calderón Hinojosa (2006-2012). Tens of thousands of Mexicans have died in the militarized “war on drugs” Calderón initiated soon after he took office in December 2006. The petition is at http://www.change.org/petitions/harvard-university-president-faust-deny-outgoing-mexican-president-felipe-calderon-employment-at-harvard
From Weekly News Update on the Americas, Dec. 9.