Declassified State Department Cables Among Evidence Supporting Claim
Citing violations of the Mexican constitution, international treaties and Mexican law, victims and surviving family members of the 2010 San Fernando massacre, along with the Fundación para la Justicia (FJEDD) and other groups, have initiated legal action against Mexico’s National Human Rights Commission (CNDH) and are challenging the unassailability of its rulings.
The new legal effort stems from the publication, on December 27, 2013, of a long-awaited CNDH ruling of the San Fernando massacre, in which some 72 migrants were murdered by alleged members of Los Zetas, a criminal organization tied to the Mexican military that has been responsible for barbaric acts of violence in recent years. The complaint argues that CNDH, charged with the protection and defense of human rights in Mexico, did not fully investigate the case, did not solicit the views of victims and family members or respect their right to justice, and ultimately failed to determine whether the state was involved in the killings either through omission or direct action.
Among the evidence the families have assembled to support the case is a set of declassified U.S. State Department documents obtained by the National Security Archive’s Mexico/Migration project and first published here at Migration Declassified. The cables were also the focus of an investigation by award-winning Mexican journalist Marcela Turati published in Proceso magazine.
In one cable, U.S. diplomats said there was “near total impunity” for Mexican criminal organizations in Tamaulipas state, “in the face of compromised local security forces.” In another, the U.S. Embassy said that Mexican authorities wanted to minimize “the state’s responsibility” for the massacres in the region. The Embassy cited information indicating that “migration authorities and local police” in Mexico “often turn a blind eye or collude in” the kidnappings and massacres carried out by the drug cartels. Mexican officials told the U.S. they believed “that the majority of the victims discovered were migrants heading to the US who were intercepted en route and unable to pay what was demanded of them.”
In its December ruling, the CNDH said that the negligence of federal prosecutor’s office (PGR) and Tamaulipas state officials in their handling of the San Fernando case had resulted in impunity for the perpetrators. But that ruling fell short of what is required by law, according to FJEDD.
The plaintiffs are also asking the court to review the constitutionality of law that prohibits legal challenges of CNDH rulings, asking for judicial intervention “in a scenario in which the maximum federal authority charged with defending respect human rights is the one that is violating them.”