Since last Wednesday a video showing two Mexican Army soldiers torturing a woman has been circulating the web. In the interrogation three officers, two soldiers and a Federal Policewoman placed a plastic bag on the prisoner’s head and suffocated her to force her give out information.
It’s not known what the questioning was about, and it happened on February, 2015, in the township of Ajuchitlán de Progreso, in the southern state of Guerrero, but the video showed clear evidence that Mexican Army and Federal Police officials do practice torture tactics on prisoners.
In a most unusual move, on Saturday Defense Secretary Salvador Cienfuegos summoned 30,000 soldiers at the Mexico City Military Field Number One to speak to them about the content of the video.
On Monday, National Security Commissioner Renato Sales will meet with a large number of Federal policemen in Federal Police headquarters in San Luis Potosí to deliver a message similar to the one General Cienfuegos delivered on Saturday.
The apologetic appearance of the two officials is a sign that the incriminating video shook up both the Army and the Federal police to its foundations and the idea behind the haranguing is that this never happens again.
General Cienfuegos said of the torturers, “those who behave like criminals not only are they breaking the law but they are also unworthy of belonging to the armed forces.”
He also mentioned that in the video “we can see that unworthy officials of our institution smear the honorable behavior of thousands of men and women who wear a military uniform.”
The speech was broadcast live to all the zones and military regions and the Army reports are that some 130,000 soldiers in service got to listen to it.
The speech reiterated an apology “to society” and told the Army ranks from top to bottom that torture practices must be denounced and that no soldier should allow another to carry out these cruel practices.
“We have the unavoidable duty to denounce these acts that are contrary to law.”
In this case, General Cienfuegos said the Army “acted without delay” to bring the culprits to military justice before a court martial but the Federal policewoman was also tried in a civilian court to receive punishment “for crimes committed against civilians.”
Though he described the incident as “an isolated case” he said that “there is indignation on all the members of the Mexican Army and Air Force over these misdeeds that occurred 14 months ago.”
“That was an irrational and wrongful act that provoked righteous wrath among officials and denigrated the armed forces. In the name I offer an apology to society.”
The speech lasted twenty minutes and General Cienfuegos pleaded with the soldiers to not let these acts “undermine their daily efforts and to carry out duties “according to the law.”
National Security Commissioner Renato Sales will surely echo General Cienfuegos’s speech when he speaks today to the Federal Police Corps to prevent that this happens again.
A question that arises in these two apologies from the top brass is perhaps that there is change in bringing both soldiers and Federal police, who often work side by side, in line with the national and international pressure the Enrique Peña Nieto Administration is getting for its record in human rights violations.
As a general rule these torture acts go unnoticed but this time it is certainly outstanding that both Cienfuegos and Renato Sales are openly dealing with an issue, which in the past, would have been swept under the rug.