Enforced disappearances and public apologies

Jorge and Javier, two postgraduate students were murdered by soldiers on March 19, 2010

Enforced disappearances and public apologies
Enforced disappearances began after the war against drug was launched - Photo: Marco Ugarte/AP
English 20/03/2019 09:17 Mexico City Editorial Actualizada 09:24
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Abuse of power is usually tolerated and rarely acknowledged. For the government to admit that it violated human rights, a long process is required, usually before a national or international judicial body that emits a verdict in favor of the victim.

In Mexico, public apologies are becoming more and more common. On one hand, it is the evidence that shows that there is a lot to do in the country to fully respect human rights and on the other, it is is only a step forward to improve the situation.

An emblematic case took place on November 17, 2011, when the government admitted its responsibility on the enforced disappearance of Rosendo Radilla Pacheco, which took place in 1974, in order to comply with the verdict issued by the Inter-American Court of Human Rights. A hasty act of reparation, where the victim's family was not present.

It took almost five years before another similar ceremony took place. On April 2016, the National Defense Ministry publicly apologized to society for torturing a civilian. Less than a year later, on February 2017, another apology was issued, when the head of the General Attorney's Office publicly apologized to Alberta, Teresa, and Jacinta, three Indigenous women who were imprisoned for three years, accused of kidnapping federal agents.

In 2019, the federal government publicly apologized to journalist Lydia Cacho, who was criminalized in 2005, for exercising her freedom of speech.

Two weeks ago, the Veracruz government apologized and admitted that the state police kidnapped 5 youths and handed them over to a brutal cartel who then murdered them.

Yesterday, another public apology took place in Monterrey. This is one of the most barbarous cases. Jorge and Javier, two postgraduate students were murdered by soldiers on March 19, 2010; the first official version was full of inconsistencies: the victims were identified as gunmen and their bodies were manipulated to place guns.

Is it enough to publicly apologize to leave abuse of power behind, which ended in the murder of two innocents or five youths?

The origin of this type of events is the serious flaws in the judicial system. The victim's families demand is the same: they are only asking for justice and that these events no longer take place. In very few cases those guilty have been judged and sentenced to prison. If the rule of law prevailed in Mexico, public apologies wouldn't be necessary.


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