Human rights groups fight torture in Mexico
June 1, 1997
Web posted at: 3:45 p.m. EDT (1945 GMT)
MEXICO CITY, Mexico (CNN) -- Rosario Ibarra's son disappeared
in 1975. She says he was kidnapped by the Mexican army, the
victim of widespread torture tactics carried out and
orchestrated by the government.
"Torture, illegal detention and disappearances are
inseparable (in Mexico)," she said, standing in her living
room filled with pictures of her son.
Ibarra, like many others in Mexico, has dedicated her life to
the cause of human rights and is fighting what she calls
Findings by Mexican human rights groups read like a catalog
of horrors: tortures by electrocution, beatings, drownings,
systematic rapes and executions without trial or charges.
Wrote one survivor, "Torture makes you insane. It converts
you into an instrument. They promise you life for killing you
International human rights groups have condemned the reports
of torture and arbitrary killings. Organizations such as
Amnesty International and Americas Watch blame the climate of
violence on the fight against drug trafficking and an
enduring tradition of police brutality.
The emergence of two guerrilla movements in the last three
years in the southern states of Chiapas and Guerrero has
provoked increasingly harsh measures by police and the
"Torture makes you insane. It
converts you into an instrument. They promise you life
for killing you inside."
-- Torture survivor
Thousands tortured annually
Father David Fernandez, a Jesuit priest in the region, claims
there are more than 1,000 cases of torture a year.
"There is a willful and explicit intent to cover up and
reduce the number of torture cases and complaints," he said.
He added that the abuse "is being used to halt peaceful
political and social struggle."
But Dr. Luis de la Barreda of the government-sponsored
commission for human rights in Mexico City argues that
"torture is not at the top of the list of complaints.
Complaints are very low."
Others disagree. Gonzalo Rosas, a Jesuit priest who survived
a torture exhibition, said the abuse is routinely carried out
by security forces and pro-government vigilantes in Chiapas
to terrorize the population and discourage dissent.
For Ibarra, her determination to end the alleged abuse
"Only one life saved would have been worth 20 years of
struggle," she said.
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