Mexico: security operations killed 111 “innocents” in 2010

Hundreds of students, residents, artists, religious people and activists from some 70 organizations started a fast the morning of Jan. 29 in Ciudad Juárez, in the northern Mexican state of Chihuahua, to mark the first anniversary of the Jan. 30, 2010 massacre of 15 youths in the city’s Villas de Salvárcar neighborhood. “No more blood!” “No more impunity!” and “No more feminicides!” were among the slogans of the commemoration. Later in the morning a group of the fasters marched to Puerto de Anapra, near Sunland Park, New MĂ©xico, where they and US residents held a ceremony in memory of the victims. The demonstrators were divided by a metal fence the US government has built at the border and watched over by US Border Patrol agents.

The youths at Villas de Salvárcar were attending a party when they were killed, apparently by a drug gang that intended to kill a different group. The massacre came as violence, much of it drug-related, continued to escalate in northern Mexico following President Felipe CalderĂłn Hinojosa’s decision to militarize the “drug war” after taking office in December 2006. Participants in the Jan. 29 events said they were “fed up with the violence and the actions of the authorities against the criminal underworld, since they don’t bring results and the bloodshed continues.”

Participants also remembered the hundreds of women murdered in the area since 1993, including RubĂ­ Marisol Frayre and her mother, activist Marisela Escobedo Ortiz. (La Jornada, Mexico, Jan. 30)

2010 left “the highest number of violent deaths in recent years” in the country, National Human Rights Commission (CNDH) president RaĂşl Plascencia Villanueva said in Mexico City on Jan. 26 as he presented the semi-independent commission’s annual report to the federal Congress. Plascencia Villanueva said the situation has “had an unjust effect in the sphere of the rights and freedoms of people who have nothing to do with criminality: 111 innocent people, without links to any crime, lost their lives over the last year in public security operations; in the vast majority of the cases, they are still waiting for justice to be carried out.” (LJ, Jan. 27)

US secretary of state Hillary Clinton gave a more upbeat view during a brief visit to Guanajuato state in central Mexico on Jan. 24. She admires President CalderĂłn, she told a press conference, and is impressed by his leadership in the fight against organized crime. “We still have work to do,” Clinton admitted. “I’m not going to deny that. But we are making progress.” She noted that the US is providing $500 million this year through the MĂ©rida Initiative security cooperation agreement for Mexico’s anti-drug operations. (LJ, Jan. 25; EFE, Jan. 25, via Fox News Latino)

From Weekly News Update on the Americas, Jan. 30.

By the presidency’s own count, a total of 15,273 Mexicans were killed in narco-violence last year.

See our last posts on Mexico and the struggle in Ciudad Juárez.