Covering Up Human Rights Abuses in Oaxaca

It’s been a busy and interesting week regarding developments in Oaxaca, Mexico, and the U.S.

First, there was the report in the Mexican media on July 29 that an investigation by officials from the Royal Canadian Mounted Police into the murder of U.S. independent journalist Brad Will affirmed the conclusions drawn by the Mexican Federal Attorney General’s Office (PGR) regarding his death. The PGR, contrary to all available evidence, claims Will, shot in Oaxaca in 2006, was killed at close range by a anti-government protester. The media reports raised more questions than they answered. For example, why was the RCMP investigating this, and why, as evident from the reports, did they carry out such a clearly laughable investigation?

These questions and more were answered when Brad Will’s family released a statement soundly debunking the so-called RCMP report. As it turns out, there was no official RCMP investigation. It was merely three retired RCMP officers who did an “investigation” which the Mexican government then presented to the media as an official RCMP report. Today, Physicians for Human Rights – a group that actually did investigate Brad’s murder – issued a press release that similarly called into question the veracity of the ex-RCMPers report. James Stephen, Phil Ziegler and Gary Buerk certainly have some serious rebutting to do if they don’t want to be tarnished as integrity-free hacks-for-hire. Although I’m sure there’s always a market for those types.

The conclusions of another “investigation” regarding Oaxaca were released Tuesday by Mexico’s Supreme Court. They took it upon themselves to investigate the actions of the state and federal governments who brutally repressed the 2006 uprising. Unsurprisingly, the Supreme Court found the use of force – which left 27 dead and hundreds injured, arrested and tortured – to be legitimate. This is the same court which found the murders and mass rapes by police that occurred in Atenco in 2006 to be unworthy of investigating either.

But one question remains – why all these reports stating how the Mexican state is not at fault for the atrocities of 2006 in Oaxaca? The answer can be found in Plan Mexico, aka the Merida Initiative. The three-year, $1.4 billion aid (mostly military) package to Mexico and Central America has a human rights requirement for Mexico. Yearly, the U.S. State Department must certify Mexico’s respect for human rights and the Congress must approve that certification. If that doesn’t happen, then Mexico loses 15% of the Plan Mexico funds. Of course, Mexico gets the other 85% no matter how many people it tortures and kills, but it could do it much more effectively if it got 100% of the funds.

Also, later this month both Clinton and Obama are to visit Mexico to see how the U.S.’s hegemonic efforts under the tutelage of Felipe Calderon are holding up. The family of Juan Manuel Martinez Moreno – the Oaxacan social activist being framed by Mexico for the murder of Brad Will – is requesting an audience with Obama in Mexico City. The Mexican government would of course rather avoid this and any other scrutiny of its human rights record, while at the same time receiving all the Plan Mexico funds. So the timing of the non-RCMP and Supreme Court reports saying that everything is fine in Oaxaca is no surprise.

However, it appears that their efforts have all been for naught. For while Clinton’s State Dept. dutifully certified Mexico’s human rights record this week, even though human rights complaints have risen 600% under Calderon’s regime, Senator Leahy on Wednesday blocked the certification from being voted upon in the Senate, basically saying he doesn’t believe the State Dept. Maybe Amnesty International got to him. This means that, at least for the time being, the Mexican government will only have 85% of the Plan Mexico funds at its disposal to deploy against the social movements demanding justice and an end to impunity. Which, given that Plan Mexico shouldn’t exist at all, is still appallingly too much.

Scott Campbell is one of the many involved in Direct Action to Stop the War. He speaks only for himself and not for, or on behalf of, DASW. Read other articles by Scott, or visit Scott's website.

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  1. Mulga Mumblebrain said on August 8th, 2009 at 7:16pm #

    Funny how the West made such a fuss over Iran’s election, lying through their teeth with practised accomplishment, that it had been stolen, when the stolen election in Mexico never turned a head. Just as the stolen Mexican election of 1988 raised no problems, or Bush’s two stolen elections or the fraudulent elections in Egypt, or the fact that Hezbollah won 55% of the popular vote in Lebanon, but was gloatingly said by Western liars to have ‘lost’.Without hypocrisy, without dissembling, without lying the Western media apparatus would vanish, like an unlamented fart, into thin air.