News and Analysis: September 19 - October 2, 2011

1 - ZEDILLO SUED FOR ACTEAL MASSACRE
2 - U.S. GENERAL CLAIMS “SHARED RESPONSIBILITY” FOR DRUG WAR
3 - FAST AND FURIOUS GETS MORE COMPLICATED
 
A small group of relatives of victims of the infamous Acteal massacre are suing former President Ernesto Zedillo in US District Court in Connecticut for his complicity in the killings of 45 indigenous and the subsequent cover-up.  Zedillo thought he was living in relative obscurity, teaching part time at Yale, but a Miami-based law firm tracked him down in a wealthy New Haven neighborhood.  The 1997 massacre by paramilitary groups acting in concert with local military authorities resulted in the forced resignation of then-Governor Julio Cesar Ruis Ferro and Interior Minister Emilio Chuayfett, but Zedillo finished his six year term in 2000 largely untouched.  The Zedillo administration has long been suspected of complicity, if not outright coordination of the crime.  According to the suit, Zedillo conspired with former Attorney General Jorge Madrazo Cuellar to hide the President’s links to this and other covert operations. 

In a 1998 report, Amnesty International noted, “compelling evidence shows that authorities facilitated the arming of paramilitaries who carried out the killings and failed to intervene as the savage attack continued for hours.”  And in 2009, a special prosecutor appointed by the Chiapas state government reported “new facts which prove the probable responsibility of former state and federal public servants…”  Zedillo had no immediate comment.

The pacifist group Las Abejas, which includes the immediate family members of the Acteal victims, and the Fray Bartolome de las Casas Human Rights Center, the legal representative of Las Abejas, denounced the suit as fraudulent.  An expensive Miami law firm more accustomed to corporate law than human rights cases is bringing the suit.  In a public letter dated September 22, 2011, Las Abejas noted the coincidence between legal arguments used in the law suit and those used by a paramilitary group that committed the murders.  Mexico’s Supreme Court released several of the perpetrators last year, and family members of other paramilitary members associated with the massacre are pressuring for their release as well.  Las Abejas notes the suit may be related to the campaign to release paramilitaries now serving time, or it could even be related to the 2012 presidential elections, though the letter offers no concrete link.

2 - U.S. GENERAL CLAIMS “SHARED RESPONSIBILITY” FOR DRUG WAR
Army General Charles H. Jacoby, Jr., head of the US Northern Command, claimed last Friday the US shares responsibility with Mexico for the “drug war.”  Jacoby characterized Mexico as “part of our North American family.”  US forces are already flying unmanned Predator drones over Mexican territory for intelligence gathering, unarmed US agents are working in Mexican territory, and US experts are training Mexican police and military.  The General’s comment immediately generated suspicions in Mexico of more extensive US military intervention south of the border, a sensitive issue in a country that was invaded by US forces on numerous occasions.  

In related news, Texas Governor and presidential hopeful Rick Perry is unaware of Mexico’s concerns.  Earlier this week, he raised the possibility of sending US troops into Mexico to combat “drug-related violence.”  Mexican officials quickly informed Perry that US military intervention in Mexico would not be permitted, though the Calderon administration welcomes less overt intervention.

3 - FAST AND FURIOUS GETS MORE COMPLICATED
The ATF’s scheme to let guns “walk” into Mexico as a way of fighting organized crime, dubbed Operation Fast and Furious, got more complicated this week as an FBI/DEA informant was implicated in helping to smuggle weapons.  The informant was on the payroll of the FBI and DEA, receiving large amounts of “official law enforcement funds” at the same time he was illegally smuggling weapons into Mexico under the ATF’s operation.

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