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Cablegate: Mexican Authorities Search for Dirty War Victims

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RR RUEHCD RUEHGD RUEHHO RUEHMC RUEHNG RUEHNL RUEHRD RUEHRS RUEHTM
DE RUEHME #1248/01 1161838
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 251838Z APR 08
FM AMEMBASSY MEXICO
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 1589
INFO RUEHXC/ALL US CONSULATES IN MEXICO COLLECTIVE

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 MEXICO 001248

SIPDIS

SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: CA KCRM MX PGOV PHUM PREL
SUBJECT: MEXICAN AUTHORITIES SEARCH FOR DIRTY WAR VICTIMS
IN LIGHT OF INVESTIGATIONS

1. Summary: Mexico waged a sporadic campaign against leftist
groups in the late 60s thru the early 80s that reportedly
produced the disappearance of hundreds. Relatives of those
who disappeared have long insisted on justice and demanded
the remains of their family members be returned to them.
After three decades without serious investigations leading to
successful prosecutions of those responsible for hundreds of
forced disappearances, Mexico's Attorney General's Office
(PGR) has touted fresh efforts to conduct investigations into
disappearances that occurred in the course of the dirty war.
Non-governmental organizations (NGOS), however, charge that
the GoM's recent focus on this issue is narrow and stems
mostly from pressure brought to bear by a case under review
by the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR).
End Summary.

--------------------------------------------- --------------
HUMAN RIGHTS COMMISSION DISCUSSES DIRTY WAR INVESTIGATIONS
--------------------------------------------- --------------

2. Over the course of three decades, hundreds of Mexican
civilians and armed militants were allegedly murdered or
disappeared by military and security forces seeking to
contain the "threat" to national security posed by leftist
groups. In 2001, Mexico's National Human Rights Commission
(CNDH) published a report that specifically identified 275
individuals who had allegedly disappeared in the 1970s and
80s. Thousands more were illegally detained and reportedly
tortured.

3. Before the Fox administration which took office in 2000,
no Mexican Government had ever made more than a token effort
to investigate allegations of abuses during the dirty war.
In 2002, responding to a CNDH recommendation, President Fox
created the Special Prosecutor's Office for Social and
Political Movements of the Past (FEMOSPP) and tasked it with
investigating human rights abuses committed during Mexico's
"dirty war." Before FEMOSPP, no entity existed to
investigate crimes of the past. Fox touted the unit as
reflective of his administration's commitment to address this
issue and deliver justice to aggrieved family and friends of
victims.

4. Creation of the unit, however, ultimately failed to live
up to the expectations of aggrieved friends and family of
victims. According to Amnesty International, an unofficial
February 2006 draft report cited 700 cases of enforced
disappearances, more than 100 extrajudicial executions and
more than 2,000 cases of torture committed by the armed
forces and security agencies. However, Raul Plascencia,
Undersecretary for the National Human Rights Commission
(CNDH), told poloff that the Fox Administration never
officially published that report. Plascencia complained that
many of the prosecutors hired by FEMOSPP had established an
ineffective record on prior commissions. Many human rights
organizations and family members refused to work with FEMOSPP
alleging some of its members were tied to the Mexican
military. FEMOSPP was blamed for not exacting fuller
cooperation from the military and not challenging the
military's assertion of jurisdiction over cases. In November
2006, Fox closed the office down claiming it had completed
its work.

5. When President Calderon's assumed office in December 2006,
he decided not to create a new office to replace FEMOSPP.
Rather it was decided that the Attorney General's office
would reclaim the lead for investigating crimes committed in
the course of the dirty war as part of its regular
responsibilities. The Secretariat of Government's Director
of the Human Rights, Carlos Aguilar Suarez stressed the GOM
commitment to investigating these cases but was not
optimistic about producing results given the fact that
decades had elapsed since the time most of the crimes were
committed. To date, the GOM has not prosecuted anybody for
crimes committed during this period nor been able to identify
the human remains of anybody who reportedly disappeared
during that time.

--------------------------------------------- ------
NGOS DESCRIBE RECENT GOM INVESTIGATIONS AS REACTIVE
--------------------------------------------- --------

6. Most NGOs share CNDH's skepticism about the GoM's efforts
-- past and present -- to investigate crimes committed during
the dirty war. Over recent months, the GOM has drawn
attention to its investigation of disappearances conducting
excavations in the state of Guerrero, the cite of many
reported disappearances. However, Julio Mata Montiel,
President of the Association of Relatives of the Detained,
Disappeared and Victims of Human Rights Abuses in Mexico
(AFADEM), insists this recent activity is more the product of
pressure brought to bear by a case before the Inter-American

MEXICO 00001248 002 OF 002


Commission of Human Rights (IACHR) than its own commitment to
justice on these cases. Montiel referred specifically to the
case of Rosendo Radilla Pacheco, a man who purportedly
provided support services to the Atoyac community in the
state of Guerrero and was allegedly detained by the military
in 1974. Radilla's daughter, Tita Radilla Martinez and
AFADEM applied to have the case against Mexico heard at the
IACHR in 2002 after filing complaints with the State of
Guerrero, CNDH and the military. The case was admitted to
the Commission in 2005 and on April 1, 2008, the IACHR sent
the case to the Inter-American Court of Human Rights
(reportedly the first Mexican case ever to go to the
Inter-American Court on the dirty war) charging the GOM with
failure to comply with IACHR recommendations in determining
the whereabouts of the victim, identifying and punishing
those responsible for the crime.

7. Montiel and others believe the IACHR focus on this case
is driving the GoM's more active investigation of
disappearances in Guerrero. According to Montiel, the IACHR
decided to send this case to the Inter-American Court for
Human Rights because of the lack of GoM progress on the case.
Meanwhile, GoM maintains the family failed to exhaust all
domestic appeals before taking the cases to an international
forum. To the GOM's credit, Jamie Wick from the Peace
Brigades International (PBI) agreed that Radilla's case may
have contributed to the publicity surrounding recent
investigations but that PGR's efforts to investigate have
been ongoing over past years.

8. Comment: While members of civil society disagree on the
motives behind the recent surge in investigations of dirty
war crimes, government officials from Mexico's Secretary of
Interior (SEGOB) and CNDH both insist PGR investigations of
these crimes have been underway since 2002 when the GoM
created FEMOSPP. Few parties are optimistic about prospects
for these investigations producing the kind of closure
aggrieved family and friends of victims are looking for
either in the form of recovered remains or prosecutions -- in
large measure given the time that has elapsed but also
because of the potential political ramifications. Civil
society representatives, however, have signaled a readiness
to return to the IACHR with more cases in the face of
continued GOM failure to produce progress on the array of
outstanding cases.

Visit Mexico City's Classified Web Site at
http://www.state.sgov.gov/p/wha/mexicocity and the North American
Partnership Blog at http://www.intelink.gov/communities/state/nap /
GARZA

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