Mexico: rights activists threatened as more mass graves unearthed

The number of bodies found in clandestine graves in the northern Mexican city of Durango reached 104 after the discovery of eight more corpses April 27. The total bodies pulled from two sets of clandestine graves this month is now approaching 300, after 183 were also found buried in the border state of Tamaulipas to the northwest. The prosecutor general’s office for Durango state said the 104 bodies had been found in hidden graves around the city since April 11, and that they had been buried for at least one year.

At a press conference—in which questions were not allowed—federal Prosecutor General Marisela Morales on April 26 upped the toll of bodies discovered around the Tamaulipas town of San Fernando to 183. Authorities said many of the those unearthed at San Fernando were killed by a blow to the head with a sledge hammer. The victims are believed to be mostly migrants who were abducted while headed for the US border. The Central American governments are supplying Mexican authorities with information on missing migrants to try to determine if they are among the victims. The criminal paramilitary network Los Zetas are held responsible for the Tamaulipas killings.

Army troops liberated 52 Central American migrants who were being held captive at a residence near the Texas border in Tamaulipas, Mexico’s defense secretariat said April 29. They were rescued by soldiers from the 8th Military Zone acting on an anonymous tip that people were being held at a house in Reynosa, just across the border from McAllen, Tex. National media reportage is increasingly portraying Tamaulipas as a potential “failed state” within Mexico. (EFE, LAHT, April 30; La Jornada, AFP, April 28; BBC News, LAT, April 27; WP, April 25; BBC News, April 13)

The Tamaulipas border city of Matamoros is under heavy occupation by the Mexican armed forces, and members of the local group Defense and Promotion of Human Rights—Emiliano Zapata (DEPRODHEZAC) have been holding a silent protest by driving around town in a car with a banner reading “NO MILITARES.” On the morning of April 29, six vehicles full of naval troops arrived at the home of DEPRODHEZAC leader Luz MarĂ­a González Armenta where the car was parked, sealing off the block to all traffic before knocking on the door. González and her family members were interrogated about the banner in a “threatening and intimidatory manner,” and told that if they did not support the military they supported the “others” (i.e. the narcos). (DEPRODHEZAC press release, April 29)

See our last post on Mexico’s narco wars.

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  1. Arrest in San Fernando massacre
    Mexican authorities on June 17 announced the arrest of the man they say directed the kidnappings of 72 Central and South American migrants found slain at San Fernando last year Federal police said Edgar Huerta Montiel, 22, told them he led the capture of two freight trucks packed with undocumented migrants in the state of Tamaulipas, then killed 10 of the victims. (LAT, June 18)