Wed, Mar 01, 2006 - Page 7 News List

Mexican `dirty war' report released online by archive


Mexico's military and security forces killed hundreds of citizens during the country's "dirty war" during the 1960s to the 1980s, a Mexican report released online by the US National Security Archive says.

The non-governmental archive said it posted the document because all Mexicans have a right to know about the extent of state responsibility for killings, disappearances, torture, illegal detention and harassment.

The exact period covered is 1964 to 1982.

President Vicente Fox set up an office in 2002 to probe human-rights violations under three earlier administrations, and the office's research team submitted its report to a special prosecutor on Dec. 15.

But the report has not been published officially in Mexico, although extracts have appeared in the media there, the archive said.

Kate Doyle, director of the archive's Mexico Project, noted that the report was "circulating among a handful of prominent people" but that those most affected by the violence could still not read it.

Doyle said this "is a state of affairs reminiscent of Mexico's past, when citizens were routinely shut out of civic participation by a government determined to keep them in the dark."

"Information was power, and the right to information did not exist for ordinary Mexican men and women," she said.

"The National Security Archive's commitment to openness has prompted us to make this draft report available to the public in Mexico and across the world."

The archive noted that crimes reported in the draft report were committed "during the administrations of Presidents Diaz Ordaz (1964-1970), Echeverria (1970-1976) and Lopez Portillo (1976-1982).

"In those years, hundreds of Mexican citizens -- innumerable innocent civilians as well as armed militants -- were murdered or `disappeared' [abducted and presumed killed] by military and security forces," Doyle said.

"Thousands more were tortured, or illegally detained, or subjected to government harassment and surveillance," she said.

The archive is an independent non-governmental research institute and library located at The George Washington University in Washington.

Mexico's political violence has been far less documented than other broad government repression programs in Latin America, such as in Argentina and Chile while they were under military rule.

The report is also based partly on declassified documents from the Mexican military and for the first time provides names of military officers and units involved in the repression of areas where the government suspected rebels were hiding out.

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