Mexican President Felipe Calderon, accused of allowing his Army to commit atrocities
by Joe Olvera ©, 2011
Could it be? Is it true? Mexican human rights activists are pointing the finger of blame on Mexico’s President, Felipe Calderon. They claim that Calderon is responsible for atrocities committed by the Mexican Army – atrocities consisting of rape, torture, kidnappings, and murders perpetrated against innocent civilians, people who are not involved in the so-called War on drug traffickers.
Netzai Sandoval, a Mexican human rights lawyer, filed a complaint with the International Criminal Court (ICC) in The Hague, the Netherlands, requesting an investigation of the thousands of deaths of civilians at the hands of traffickers and Army personnel. More than 45,000 have died as a result of the drug war in Mexico – a war that has been raging from the time that Calderon assumed the presidency and he vowed to eliminate the drug traffickers who were creating such havoc in Mexico. “The violence in Mexico is bigger than the violence in Afghanistan, the violence in Mexico is bigger than in Colombia,” Sandoval said in his report to the ICC.
Sandoval claims that the atrocities committed by the Mexican Army, which operates with impunity, are the direct result of Calderon’s actions in trying to stem the tide of violence. But, don’t hold your breath because an investigation by the ICC could take months, or even years; this, despite the fact that 23,000 Mexican citizens signed the complaint that was sent to the ICC. According to Sandoval, Calderon, if he is tried before the international court may be out of office since his tenure in office will be up next year.
Calderon, speaking in his own defense, has said that his government is not at war with the murderous cartels and that the use of the Army is at the behest of state governments. The accusers say, however, that Calderon has systematically allowed Mexican troops to commit abuses against civilians since 2006, with more tan 50,000 soldiers fighting cartels across Mexico, while the numbers of federal police, who are also accused of committing atrocities have increased from six thousand to 35 thousand since Calderon grabbed the presidency.
A human rights report says that evidence points to 170 cases of torture, 24 murders, and 39 forced disappearances in five Mexican states. “We have known for five years that the Mexican Army is committing sexual abuse, executing people, torturing people and kidnapping, and there have been no sanctions,” Sandoval said.
In one such case, Susana Seijas, a CBS News producer based in Mexico City, said that Gustavo Acosta Jr., 29, was shot in the head by armed Navy officers. After hearing a banging on his door, Acosta Jr. went to see who was doing the banging. The Navy officers accused Acosta Jr. of shooting at them. He denied the accusation, but, it did him no good. He was immediately killed.
Nik Steinberg, the author of the Human Rights Watch report regarding Acosta, said: “The scale of violence that we’re seeing in Mexico is unprecedented, innocent people are being caught in the middle, they’re being tortured, they’re being killed, they’re being disappeared and they’re being branded as criminals.” While Mexican authorities contend that 90 percent of the people killed in drug-related violence are members of criminal groups, this not borne out, because most deaths in Mexico are not investigated.