Mexico: US-UK firm teaches torture?

According to the online magazine Narco News, the company that taught torture methods to police agents in Leon in the central Mexican state of Guanajuato (see Update, July 6) is Risks Incorporated, a private security firm with offices in Miami and the United Kingdom. One of the two instructors involved in the training may be Risks Incorporated’s Andrew “Orlando” Wilson, who served in the British military 1988-93, including 22 months in Northern Ireland. The other instructor appears to be Gerardo “Jerry” Arrechea, a Cuban-Mexican martial arts instructor; he seems to be the same “Jerry Arrechea” that the right-wing Miami-based Comandos F4 organization lists as its Mexican contact. In 2007 Risks Incorporated said its instructors used “psychological torture” in some courses “to show how easy it is to break a hostage and we’re being nice!” (Narco News, July 7)

Officials in Leon, which is governed by the center-right National Action Party (PAN) of President Felipe Calderon Hinojosa, have refused to apologize for the training. On July 10 they showed a videotape of two agents who had been victimized in the sessions. In the tape the two agents, identified by nicknames, said they were “happy” with their treatment. (La Jornada, July 11) But on July 11 Mayor Vicente Guerrero Reynoso apologized publicly for the treatment of Leon resident Angel Segura Medina by police on March 21. After arresting him for beating his wife, three agents beat Segura Medina for 30 minutes. (LJ, July 12)

On July 8 Marcelo Ebrard Casaubon, head of government of the Federal District (DF, Mexico City), announced the resignations of DF public safety secretary Joel Ortega Cuevas and DF prosecutor Rodolfo Felix Cardenas as the result of a June 20 police operation in which 12 people were killed, several of them under age. While raiding the News Divine discotheque for serving alcohol to minors, DF police agents attempted to arrest the patrons and blocked the exits, causing a fatal stampede. A report by the DF Human Rights Commission noted that any minors being served alcohol were legally victims and should not have been subject to arrest. The DF, which is governed by the center-left Party of the Democratic Revolution (PRD), has followed a policy “in which youths are criminalized, especially the poorest ones,” the report said. (LJ, July 9)

From Weekly News Update on the Americas, July 13

See our last post on the human rights crisis in Mexico.