Mexico is descending into a new abyss of violence, and it’s government officials who bear the brunt of the blame as the government of President Enrique Peña Nieto plumbs a new depth of unpopularity.
The latest polling numbers given the Mexican leader a favorability rating of 26 percent, the lowest number for any Mexican president in more than two decades.
One of the leading reasons for the presidential plunge is the nation’s growing level of violence, with the latest victims including both journalists and priests.
Real blood on the newsroom floor
The press has fared poorly under Peña, with an ever-growing number of journalists slain, and politicians from Peña’s party have been linked to some of the slaying.
From teleSUR English:
At least 26 journalists have been killed since President Enrique Peña Nieto took office, including two more last week.
Aurelio Campos, editor at the daily “El Grafico,” based in the central state of Puebla, and Agustin Pavia, host at the southern Oaxacan community radio station “Tu Un Nuu Savi,” were killed just two days apart in unrelated incidents.
“Mexico is in the process of turning into a cemetery for journalists,” said Emmanuel Colombié, the head of Reporters Without Borders’ Latin America desk. “The local and national authorities must urgently overhaul the alert and protection mechanisms for journalists and must give the police and judicial authorities the resources they need to quickly and systematically identify those behind these murders.”
Campos previously reported to local authorities that he had been the victim of intimidation. However, police determined that he was killed by “an angry colleague,” who they have not yet identified. He was fatally shot while driving his car on Sept. 14.
Two days later Pavia was also shot dead while driving. Authorities are still investigating the motive for the crime, and no one has been arrested.
A politician linked to press killings under fire
A second story from teleSUR English looks at one of those government officials linked to press murders:
Mexico’s Attorney General confirmed Thursday the launch of a probe against outgoing Veracruz Governor Javier Duarte for embezzlement and related crimes.
Duarte is infamous in Mexico because 17 journalists have been killed or disappeared since he took office, although none of these crimes form part of the investigation against him. Duarte belongs to the ruling Institutional Revolutionary Party – known by its acronym, PRI – and is a close ally to President Enrique Peña Nieto.
Prosecutors said Duarte must present valid documentation to confirm that his expenditures of nearly US$721,000 were for governmental and not personal use.
The outgoing governor will end his mandate in December, leaving Veracruz with a public debt of US$583 million, according to Mexico’s finance ministry.
Mexican authorities launched a probe in July into the potentially improper use of taxpayer money. So far, at least 69 relatives, friends and associates of Duarte have been investigated. That investigation has not concluded.
Duarte has been linked to the killing of journalist Ruben Espinosa and activist Nadia Vera, both of whom accused him of threatening them and told friends that if they were killed, the governor would be responsible.
In addition to journalists, women have also been subjected to state violence on Duarte’s watch. According to official figures, a total of 500 women have been killed since his swearing-in in 2010.
Priests slain, another abducted
Priests have also been favorite targets of violence, and the Roman Catholic Church is asking for help in finding one of the latest victims:
Roman Catholic Church officials pleaded on Thursday for the life of a priest who was kidnapped from his parish residence one day after two other priests were abducted and killed in another part of Mexico.
The Archdiocese of Morelia said priest José Alfredo Lopez Guillén was abducted Monday from his parish residence in the rural town of Janamuato, in the western state of Michoacan. The archdiocese said he was kidnapped after he was robbed.
“We plead that the life and physical integrity of the priest be respected,” the archdiocese said.
In a video statement, Cardinal Alberto Suárez Inda, head of the Morelia archdiocese, said, “After sharing the enormous pain of the death of two young priests in the diocese of Papantla, Veracruz, we are now suffering our own anguish with the disappearance of one of our priests.”
Two priests were kidnapped Sunday in the Gulf coast state of Veracruz, and their bullet-ridden bodies were found on a roadside the next day.
Police sex crimes probed
From the New York Times comes yet another story about official violence:
International human rights officials are demanding an investigation into the brutal sexual assaults of 11 Mexican women during protests a decade ago — an inquiry that would take aim at President Enrique Peña Nieto, who was the governor in charge at the time of the attacks.
The demand is part of a multiyear examination by the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights into abuses during a 2006 crackdown ordered by Mr. Peña Nieto on San Salvador Atenco, a town in Mexico State where demonstrators had taken over the central square. During the operations, which left two dead, more than 40 women were violently detained by the police, packed onto buses and sent to jail several hours away.
The case was brought by 11 women to the international commission, which found that the police tortured them sexually. The women — a mix of merchants, students and activists — were raped, beaten, penetrated with metal objects, robbed and humiliated, made to sing aloud to entertain the police. One was forced to perform oral sex on multiple officers. After the women were imprisoned, days passed before they were given proper medical examinations, the commission found.
The commission delivered its findings last week to the Inter-American Court, an independent judiciary with legal authority over Mexico. If the court agrees with the commission, it can order Mexico to broaden its current inquiry into the case, a requirement that could force the state to investigate its own president.
The U.N. backs Ayotzinapa parents
The most notorious incident of violence in recent years in Mexico happened two years ago this coming Monday when 43 students from the Raúl Isidro Burgos Rural Teachers’ College in Ayotzinapa, Guerrero, vanished after their abduction from the town of Iguala after a violent assault by police and drug cartel gunmen [previously].
Parents of the missing students have maintained protests and vigils ever since, often met with more violence from police as they demand real answers from a seemingly indifferent government.
And now the United Nations is taking their side.
From the news agency EFE:
The representative in Mexico of the Office of the U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights expressed solidarity here Wednesday with the parents of 43 teacher trainees who went missing two years ago in the southern state of Guerrero.
After a meeting with the mothers and fathers of students from the Raul Isidro Burgos Rural Teacher Training College in Ayotzinapa who disappeared on Sept. 26, 2014, in the nearby city of Iguala, Jan Jarab said he supported their efforts to seek the truth and ensure these crimes are not repeated.
“We need to overcome this climate of impunity,” Jarab said in reference to the more than 27,000 people who have gone missing in Mexico over the past decade, many of whom, according to international rights groups, were victims of enforced disappearances, crimes in which state officials – or people acting with state consent – grabbed people off the street or from their homes and then refused to say where they were.
During the closed-door meeting at the school, Jarab hailed the fact that Mexico’s Attorney General’s Office was opening new lines of investigation.
He also said a special monitoring mechanism dictated by the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, or IACHR, would be installed soon to ensure the Mexican government is held accountable for its probe.
If Donald Trump wants to keep Mexican killers and rapists out of the U.S., maybe he should start with government officials.