The State Department report on human rights says that U.S.-trained security forces in Mexico have “engaged in unlawful killings, forced disappearances, and instances of physical abuse and torture” in the U.S.-led war on drugs. Mike Riggs at Reason contacted the DEA looking for some sort of statement. Here is the email exchange:
Riggs: The State Department recently released a report on human rights abuses in Mexico. That report found that Mexican military and LEOs “engaged in unlawful killings, forced disappearances, and instances of physical abuse and torture” while fighting TCOs.
I was wondering if your office could provide me with a statement about the new report in light of Administrator Michele Leonhart’s earlier claim, made to the Washington Post, in which she said, “It may seem contradictory, but the unfortunate level of violence is a sign of success in the fight against drugs….[cartels] are like caged animals, attacking one another,” as it seems cartels are not the only people in Mexico committing violence.
DEA: We will let the State Department and Mexico speak to this rather than us
Riggs: If the DEA won’t comment on the report, can you at least tell me if Administrator Leonhart stands by her claim that the “the unfortunate level of violence is a sign of success” in the war on drugs?
DEA: She has been consistent that the violence represents the pressure cartels feel from Mexican law enforcement/military and the U.S.
Riggs: But [she] has no comment on violence perpetrated by DEA partners in Mexican military and law enforcement?
It’s important to point out that Mexican security forces have been committing crimes with U.S. backing for some time now. And it is well known. Human Rights Watch back in November of last year released a report providing evidence that Mexico’s security forces participated in “more than 170 cases of torture, 39 ‘disappearances,’ and 24 extrajudicial killings since Calderón took office in December 2006.” And these are just what they could confirm.
“Instead of reducing violence, Mexico’s ‘war on drugs’ has resulted in a dramatic increase in killings, torture, and other appalling abuses by security forces, which only make the climate of lawlessness and fear worse in many parts of the country,” said José Miguel Vivanco of Human Rights Watch. What’s more, claimed the report, is that most of these crimes are committed with impunity. Security forces are by and large immune from any accountability for these actions.
President Calderon’s policy to deploy 50,000 Mexican troops and thousands more federal police officers – forces that are trained by the United States – has only increased the violence, which has left more than 50,000 dead since about 2006. The Mexican drug cartels – which the Washington Post reported yesterday are at war with each other – have dug in their heels and terrorized Mexico with progressive cruelty following every increase in hardened drug war policy (directed by Washington, of course).
“George W. Bush backed Calderón’s militarization with a $1.8 billion package of helicopters, police training, and intelligence cooperation,” wrote The New Yorker’sSteve Coll recently. “Obama has continued the program.”