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  • Mexico’s dirty war

    Posted by Ralf Goergens on March 18th, 2006 (All posts by )

    Alvaro Vargas Llosa from the Independent Institute:

    A secret report commissioned by the Mexican government on Mexico’s “dirty war” under the Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI) in the 1970s has caused a major scandal after being leaked to the press. It accuses the military of carrying out a genocidal policy against suspected subversives in the south between the end of the 1960s and the beginning of the 1980s.

    The exercise is not academic, of course: many killers remain at large, five hundred people are still missing, scores of families will probably never see justice done, and the PRI is still a major force in Mexican society. During my visit to Mexico last week, I had a chance to talk to some of the presidential candidates as well as a broad spectrum of intellectuals, business representatives, and journalists. The overall consensus is that the PRI will continue to wield colossal power through the state and local government structure as well as Congress, where it will command a solid bloc of votes. Even though Roberto Madrazo, the candidate of the party that ruled Mexico for most of the 20th century, is running third, he cannot be written off.

    …What we did not know until this report came out, was that the revolutionary fervor actually masked what—by the PRI’s own standards—can only be called a fascist or extreme right-wing policy of genocide, obliterating entire villages and killing scores of innocent victims.

    The PRI obviously understood the times. So long as it maintained a corrupt aid to revolutionaries inside and outside Mexico and an inflamed anti-imperialist rhetoric, it had carte blanche from all sorts of intellectuals, civil society movements and human-rights groups to practice a systematic negation of everything the PRI, a supposed progressive animal, stood for. …

    Mexicans would do well to remember this when they go to the polls in July and non-Mexicans should take notice of this new reminder that, even in the hands of governments we might feel inclined to support, the state can sometimes be, in Nietzsche’s words, the coldest of all cold monsters.

     

    6 Responses to “Mexico’s dirty war”

    1. Shannon Love Says:

      can only be called a fascist or extreme right-wing policy of genocide, obliterating entire villages and killing scores of innocent victims.

      Having lived next door to Mexico most of my life, I am not surprised at all. The history of Mexico is one of unbroken oppression since long before Cortez.

      However, since when does killing “scores” constitute genocide? It is precisely this sort of concept inflation that lets the really big killers skate away. When killing hundreds or even a few thousands over the course of decades get lumped in with killing hundreds of thousands or millions over months or a couple of years it doesn’t make the little killers look worse it makes the big killers look more normal.

    2. Ralf Goergens Says:

      However, since when does killing “scores” constitute genocide?

      That was my first thought, too, until I took a closer look:

      he revolutionary fervor actually masked what—by the PRI’s own standards—can only be called a fascist or extreme right-wing policy of genocide

      He merely is saying that it could be called genocide if you use the PRI’s own rhetorical standards.

    3. Angie Schultz Says:

      However, since when does killing “scores” constitute genocide?

      Since about 2005, apparently. That page reproduces a WaPo article from Jan 14, 2005, reporting that a special prosecutor in Mexico was going to seek genocide charges against 25 former government officials for their actions in the “dirty war”.

      See, the statute of limitations is 30 years for ordinary murder in Mexico, but genocide has none. Clever, eh?

      The government claims that 30 people were killed in the Oct 2, 1968 massacre, but others say up to 500 were killed (but that’s over a twenty-year time period).

      The genocide charges were later denied.

      By the way, I completely agree with Shannon about the cheapening of the meaning of “genocide”. It’s the same as the Bush=Hitler concept.

    4. Don Says:

      “The overall consensus is that the PRI will continue to wield colossal power through the state and local government structure as well as Congress”.

      Which is why, for all the energy and political capital being spent, immigration reform in Washington will never work. The absolute corruption of the Mexican political culture means that it is easier for those in power to dump what they consider their human liability upon their neighbor. If these people couldn’t be dumped elsewhere, the historical pressures for reform or revolution would have happened decades ago. It is not in the interest of those in power to alter that situation.

    5. A. Scott Crawford Says:

      Ralf,

      Correct me if I’ve misremembered, but isn’t the PRI’s electoral position based on it’s control of the Mexico City political machine?

      At any rate, PRI had such a lock on Mexican politics for so long, it’s somewhat misleading to lay every scandal in every region from thirty or forty or fifty years ago at their feet today. Obviously if a particular faction is directly responsible and still in power, there should be a trial and formal charges. Otherwise, “guilt by association” shouldn’t be treated as other than a smear campaign.

      Honestly, Ralf. Look up the murder rate over the last thirty years for Mexico City, and then consider that those numbers are probably conservative. This isn’t to excuse a particular PRI government or military command murdering several thousand rural villagers, but put in perspective, one has to wonder about the particulars and the timing.

      (How’s Lopez Obrador doing in the polls, anyway?)

    6. GFK Says:

      Reason #5647893 Why we need a wall.