Minatitlán And A Sad History Of Massacres

Thirteen people, including a one-year-old baby, were killed last Good Friday in Minatitlán, Mexico. The authorities claim that the killings were a product of the war between the Jalisco New Generation Cartel and Los Zetas for control of the regional drug market. This despicable act now joins an unfortunate list of massacres that have happened recently in Mexico and Latin America. In the last six years, during the presidency of Enrique Peña Nieto, at least five massacres took place Mexico: the massacres of Tanhuato, Apatzingán, Tlatlaya, Nochixtlán, and a massive kidnapping in Iguala.

In Tanhuato, in 2015, 22 unarmed people were killed by the police in what still are suspicious events; In 2015, in Apatzingán,16 people were victim of possible extrajudicial killings; in Tlatlaya, in 2014, 21 people were murdered by the Mexican army in an alleged armed confrontation against supposed criminals; in 2016, in Nochixtlán, during a clear act of repression against civil and unarmed citizens, 8 people died and many ended wounded; finally, in Iguala, 43 students went missing when the police opened fire against the bus in which they were travelling. That night, 3 students were killed and 43 disappeared. Their whereabouts are still unknown. Sadly, since the Tlatelolco massacre of 1968 where hundreds of students were killed by the Mexican authorities while they were peacefully marching, history has not been very compassionate with this Latin American nation.

Unfortunately, many other Latin American countries have seen similar events. In Colombia, the conflict produced many abominable massacres. The one in El Aro in 1997 took the life of 17 people and displaced 700 inhabitants of the region. The right-wing paramilitary group that led the operation publicly tortured and executed people for 7 days. The Colombian military force arrived at the site only 15 days after the heinous events. In 2006, the Inter-American Court of Human Rights found that Colombia was internationally responsible, as it did not fulfil the obligations embodied in Articles 1(1), 4, 5, 7 and 2 of the American Convention on Human Rights.

In El Salado, another region embedded in the Colombian geography, took place what is likely the bloodiest massacre by a paramilitary group in recent history.  In an operation that lasted 4 days, the paramilitaries murdered, tortured, and raped everyone whom they suspected had any relation with the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC). In the end, over 100 people were killed. The participation of the Colombian authorities is still a matter of investigation.

As seen, violence is far from eradicated. In fact, drugs and their insane profit margin are now part of the fuel that feeds criminality, corruption, lawlessness, and violence in many Latin American countries. Nonetheless, a consensus around a legalization regime that would remove the business from the cartels and with it the violence and deaths is still very remote.