[Marxism] Mexico Debates The Meaning of 'Genocide' as Fox Tries to Lay the Past to Rest

Tony Abdo gojack10 at hotmail.com
Mon Jul 26 08:01:22 MDT 2004

A sort of charade is currently being played out in Mexico these days.  It's 
the PRI vs PAN Show.  The PRI rages against Fox supposedly helping uncover 
their crimes of the past, while Fox gets to supposedly stand up to the PRI 
on the issue.  And a half dead, ex-PRI criminal is the center of it all.

Should he get a slap on his rep in his sunset years, or not?  And just how 
much murder constitutes an international delito mayor?  Yes, Echeverria 
killed a couple, but the PRI gets off by arguing that at least he was no 
Pinochet or Rios Montt. And Fox gets his credentials as supposedly marching 
Mexico forward from such 'errors' of the past.  Meanwhile, the Mexican 
public gets to watch the show.  The planned ending is just to finally put 
the issue to rest, once and for all.  PRI and PAN are united on that.

Opinions Vary on Mexican Genocide Case
Sun Jul 25
By MARK STEVENSON, Associated Press Writer

MEXICO CITY - Many Mexicans criticized a special prosecutor Sunday for 
accusing a former president of genocide, with some saying the charges didn't 
fit the crime. Others questioned a judge's decision to reject the case.

Special Prosecutor Ignacio Carrillo argued that dozens were killed on June 
10, 1971, when security forces attacked protesters with sticks and guns, and 
that the crime fit a 1967 Mexican law outlawing genocide.

Judge Julio Cesar Flores disagreed, and many in Mexico said the charges 
against former President Luis Echeverria, accused of ordering the attack, 
devalued the term "genocide."

"It would have been better to do nothing at all," leftist Mexico City Mayor 
Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador said Sunday. "I think the majority of people are 
going to doubt this."

Carrillo said the judge "did not fully analyze the evidence contained in the 
14 volumes, consisting of 9,382 pages, probably because of time 

But some doubted the efficacy of genocide charges — or any criminal charges 
— 33 years after the events.

"This was the wrong way to do this," said former national security adviser 
Adolfo Aguilar Zinser, who had suggested President Vicente Fox (news - web 
sites) form a truth commission rather than try former leaders. "If you can't 
prove these charges, then it just leaves people thinking there was some lack 
of commitment, or political maneuvering."

Fox has not commented on the case, beyond saying that it was in the hands of 
the judicial system.

There was also a debate about whether the 1971 attack was truly genocide, 
defined as a systematic attempt to exterminate a racial, ethnic or national 

A lawyer for Echeverria said only 11 people died in the demonstration, but 
activists have said dozens were killed and many of the deaths were covered 

Columnist Jaime Sanchez Susarrey wrote "there was repression that day, but 
nobody in their right mind could say that genocide occurred."

The most recent recognized case of genocide occurred in 1994 in Rwanda, when 
500,000 people were killed. But Aguilar Zinser, who worked on the Rwanda 
case as Mexico's former U.N. ambassador, said "you can't compare that" with 
the 1971 events.

Others criticized the judge for refusing to uphold the case.

"This nullified, in one blow, all the progress that had been made in the 
credibility of legal processes in Mexico," said writer Carlos Monsivais.

David Roura, one of the 1971 protesters, said the attack was against a "a 
national group."

"Even though they didn't exterminate all of us, there was a genocidal trap 
laid," he said.

Most agree Carrillo filed the genocide charges mainly because they were the 
only accusations — apart from "forced disappearance" — on which the statute 
of limitations had not already run out.

Defense lawyers, however, argued that time limits applied even to genocide.

Carrillo has vowed to appeal Saturday's ruling to the Supreme Court. But 
most lawyers — including Mexico's second-highest prosecutor, Joe Luis 
Santiago Vasconcelos — have said the charges "will not go anywhere."

Prosecuting political crimes as genocide was pioneered by Spanish Judge 
Baltasar Garzon in his investigation of abuses committed during the "dirty 
wars" in Argentina and Chile during the 1970s and 80s.

But those cases have much higher death tolls. At least 9,000 Argentines died 
or vanished between 1976 and 1983, and rights groups say the figure could be 
as high as 30,000. More than 3,000 people were killed or disappeared for 
political reasons during Augusto Pinochet (news - web sites)'s 1973-90 
dictatorship in Chile.

Few estimates place the death toll in Mexico's "dirty war" at much more than 

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