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November 17, 2021

Nuevo Laredo Disappearances

Nuevo Laredo Disappearances: Last Tuesday it was reported that a judge had ordered the release of twelve Marines, who had been arrested earlier this year in connection with a string of enforced disappearances that occurred in Nuevo Laredo in 2018. While obtaining any sort of justice for military atrocities in Mexico is often a lengthy process, this case is significant for several reasons:

  • First, the arrest of members of an elite Marine group was, in itself, surprising. But there had been significant pressure and attention around the case, and a good deal of information about the operations of the Special Operations group had become public. The Nuevo Laredo case became among the best documented examples of how military policing produced human rights abuses.

  • Second, the nature of the arrests and the subsequent complaints regarding a lack of due process by the families of the detained Marines, underscores that impunity for such crimes is not just a question of simple political will, but rather there is a need for comprehensive reforms oriented toward transparency, accountability, and justice.

  • Third, as was revealed two weeks ago, some of the Marines involved in the disappearances had received training from the United States. Just as with the Camargo massacre case, the discovery that members of an elite security force received assistance from the U.S. highlighted just how little transparency there is around such interactions.

Monitoring Foreign Military Training: Over the past two decades, the U.S. has steadily increased its training of the Mexican armed forces. While much of that instruction has focused on technical skills such as maintenance or radar operation, a deeper examination of the data reveals troubling patterns.Beginning in 2011, the U.S. dramatically expanded tactical and operational trainings for members of SEDENA and SEMAR, despite legitimate concerns around human rights abuses. This is one of the primary conclusions from the Mexico Violence Resource Project’s new report and dashboard, which analyzes 20 years of data to provide the first in-depth look at U.S. military trainings in Mexico.To read the full report and explore the data yourself, click here:

What We're Reading:

  • While numbers are essential to understanding the scope of violence in Mexico, as Fernando Escalante Gonzalbo so elegantly writes for Nexos, they also serve to anonymize the victims. As the essay points out, there are stark political consequences in reducing human suffering to statistics.

  • This interesting story from the Los Angeles Times about how the U.S. is providing training for Mexican investigators on the University of Tennessee’s “body farm.” Mexico’s forensic crisis may be immense, but international support is beginning to help.

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