Cienfuegos Must also Answer for the Apatzingán MassacreRoundup
tags: Mexico, human rights, journalism, authoritarianism, Drug War
Laura Castellanos is a Mexican journalist. Her reporting on the Apatzingán Case is detailed in her book Chronicle of a cloaked country 1994-2018.
Note: This article was originally published in Spanish by the Washington Post; this text is taken from the site's translation service.
The arrest in the United States for crimes related to drug trafficking of General Salvador Cienfuegos , former Secretary of National Defense during the government of Enrique Peña Nieto in Mexico, made visible again the cover-up of serious human rights violations committed by the Armed Forces under the strategy of militarization in the fight against criminal organizations.
The strategy began in the government of Felipe Calderón, in 2006, and continues until now, with the government of Andrés Manuel López Obrador. During Calderón's six-year term, the operating units in charge of 40 heads of Regions and Military Zones, including Cienfuegos, were singled out for various crimes in 192 recommendations of the National Human Rights Commission (CNDH), as documented by the Mexican Commission for Human Rights. Defense and Promotion of Human Rights (CMDPDH) in its report Between brutality and impunity .
The CMDPDH recorded that the units attached to Cienfuegos, when it was in charge of the I and VII Military Regions , received seven recommendations from the CNDH, three of them for crimes committed within the framework of the Chihuahua Joint Operation. With Cienfuegos already as secretary, the CNDH registered 149 victims of torture, murder, and forced disappearance in 21 of its recommendations.
And although, in comparison with the previous six-year term, the commanders indicated for crimes of the operational units under his charge were reduced to 10, it was in the management of Cienfuegos as secretary that the most serious cases were committed with military intervention, according to reports of national and international human rights organizations: Tlatlaya, Ayotzinapa and Apatzingán.
The massacre of Apatzingán, in Michoacán, marked the climax of military impunity under the responsibility of Cienfuegos. It happened six months after the Tlatlaya case, in the State of Mexico, in which there were 22 civilian deaths by the Army; and three months after that of Iguala, in Guerrero, with 43 forced disappearances of normalista students from Ayotzinapa, where it has been indicated that the Army had participation or omission.
Cienfuegos must respond legally in Mexico for these cases against humanity. Although after his arrest the Army under his command has been pointed out with what happened in Tlatlaya and Ayotzinapa, Apatzingán is still pending.