Mexican police seek remains of "dirty war" victims
Pat Garcia | February 10, 2008 at 08:10 amby
359 views | 0 Recommendations | 0 comments
Mexican federal investigators searched over the weekend for remains of victims of Mexico's "dirty war," which led to the disappearance of hundreds of dissidents in the 1960s and 1970s.
About 15 police and investigators from the federal attorney general's office used scanning equipment to search for bodies at a former military base in the southern town of Atoyac de Alvarez, about 50 miles from the resort city Acapulco, said Julio Mata, who represents an association of victims' relatives.
Family members of at least five missing victims looked on, Mata told The Associated Press. The attorney general's office declined Sunday to provide information on the search.
Atoyac de Alvarez, a center of guerrilla activity in the 1960s, is the birthplace of one of the era's main rebel groups, the Party of the Poor, which was led by former school teacher Lucio Cabanas. Cabanas was killed during a gun battle with authorities in 1974.
Several rebel groups carried out kidnappings and bank robberies in the 1960s and 1970s, prompting police and military crackdowns that led to the disappearance and deaths of an estimated 275 to 1,300 people.
"Some were taken by plane and thrown into the ocean," Jose Luis Arroyo, who has been searching for his nephew since 1972, said Saturday outside the former base. "Many never came back."
If investigators find evidence of human remains, they will unearth bodies to perform DNA tests, said Mata, executive secretary of the Mexican Association of Families of the Missing, Detained and Victims of Human Rights Violations. He previously vowed his group would file a complaint against the Mexican army if remains were found at the former base in Mexico's southern state of Guerrero.
The past haunts farmers in this village, set high in the mountains that rise over Mexico's Pacific Coast.
The corn was close to harvest, they remember, in September 1972, when soldiers surrounded their fields one afternoon and summoned all male residents above the age of 16 to a meeting on the concrete basketball court at the center of the village. About 95 men and boys lined up, as soldiers took down their names, ages and the number of hectares of land each owned. Then the farmers were herded into a one-room house that had been used as an elementary school. And their lives went dark.
The farmers said soldiers forced them to take off their shirts and tie them around their eyes as blindfolds. Their hands, they said, were bound with wire. They were not allowed to sit down for hours.
Evaristo Castañón Flores, 65, said some of the men were pulled outside, and he heard soldiers bark questions about rebel groups that had occupied the area. Then he began to hear screams.
''I shouted for the soldiers to stop the torture,'' he said. ''I told them we were not guilty of any crimes. I asked them why they were committing this act of injustice.''
to root out corruption, Mr. Fox appointed a special prosecutor to
investigate Mexico's most heinous atrocities, including the 1968
massacre of about 100 students in the capital plaza of Tlatelolco, and
the disappearances of hundreds of suspected guerrillas during the
so-called Dirty War of the 1970's.[/q]
wears hardest on communities like El Quemado, where the legacy of past
atrocities continues to affect daily life and stifle progress. Situated
in the southern state of Guerrero, a couple hours' drive from the
resort of Acapulco, it was the scene of some of the fiercest military
campaigns of the Dirty War.
These mountains had been claimed
by the rebel leader Lucio Cabañas and his Party of the Poor. Former
President Luis Echeverría, who has failed to respond to government
questions about the Dirty War, sent 16,000 troops to crush them.
Quemado, loosely translated as ''the burned place,'' was one of several
villages to get caught in the cross-fire. Of the 532 cases of
disappearances recorded during the 1970's by the National Commission
for Human Rights, more than 300 were missing in Guerrero.[/q]
These members have powered this story: