According to Mexico’s National Defense Secretariat (Sedena), the military has taken responsibility for 44 cases of violations of civilians’ human rights since December 2006, when President Felipe Calderón Hinojosa ordered soldiers to join in the fight against drug trafficking. Sedena says it has initiated criminal or administrative proceedings against 223 soldiers, including officers, in these cases. However, no general has faced charges so far, and no soldier has received a sentence in cases resulting from recommendations by the government’s National Human Rights Commission (CNDH). A total of 5,055 complaints against the military have been received by the CNDH during this period; the military dismisses some of these as “presented by members [of criminal organizations] to discredit the military institution and in this way to limit its operations.”
The military has opened criminal proceedings in five new cases this year.
One stems from an incident the night of June 20, 2009, on the Chilpancingo-Las Peñas-Puebla federal highway in the southern state of Guerrero. Soldiers at a roadblock stopped a bus and inspected the passengers, arresting one for “probable” unauthorized use of an official uniform. The military says the bus driver then tried to drive away despite orders to stop and the soldiers fired on the bus, killing one person.
In another case, soldiers fired on a family car the night of Sept. 5, 2010, on the Monterrey-Nuevo Laredo highway in the northern state of Nuevo León, killing Vicente de León Ramírez and his 16-year-old son, Alejandro Gabriel de León Castellanos, and injuring six other people.
In a third case, on Sept. 30, 2009, officials of Emiliano Zapata municipality in the southern state of Tabasco reported that 10 people with their faces covered took detainees to a military base, where they were allegedly mistreated. There are also proceedings related to a newspaper report that a civilian had died during a confrontation between the military and a criminal organization; Sedena didn’t indicate where or when this took place.
In the fifth case, the complainants were riding in a van at night on Sept. 18, 2009, in Comitán de Domínguez municipality in the southeastern state of Chiapas when soldiers at a checkpoint apparently told them to stop and fired on the van when they didn’t respond to the order. One person was killed and three were wounded. (La Jornada, Mexico, June 24)
From Weekly News Update on the Americas, June 26.
See our last post on the conflict in Mexico.