Police in Tamaulipas state found the six-dozen corpses after they were tipped off by an Ecuadorian man claiming to have survived the executions at a ranch. As was mentioned in Mexico’s Reforma, the person told police on Tuesday that he was kidnapped with other migrants by the Zetas drug gang and ordered to pay a ransom or be killed. (Another Mexican daily reported that the migrants were slain after supposedly refusing to be hired as hitmen). The eyewitness was shot and survived but 72 others, including 14 women, met a much crueler fate.
Preliminary information indicated that at least four of the dead were from Brazil though it’s also suspected that the dead also came from El Salvador, Honduras, and Ecuador. The incident in Tamaulipas has been the largest dumping ground found so far this year; in July 51 bodies were uncovered near Monterrey while 55 corpses were found near Mexico City in May.
Mexican president Felipe Calderon lamented the barbarity of the discovered corpses and said yesterday that “we’re in the middle of a criminal spiral that we have to cut.” He also emphasized the need to continue his government's offensive against the drug gangs despite an increase in deaths due to organized crime since he took office in 2006.
The incident shows the many risks that migrants from countries south of Mexico face in their journey for a better life. A 2009 study by Mexico’s National Human Rights Commission concluded that drug gangs between September 2008 and February 2009 kidnapped nearly 9800 Central American migrants. An April report by Amnesty International said that violence against migrants in Mexico represented a “major human rights crisis” that has been largely ignored by authorities.
For one analyst the dumping ground in Tamaulipas is reminiscent of a more infamous killing:
”This may be the biggest attack against civilians in Mexico since at least the 1968 massacre,´´ said Jaime Lopez- Aranda, a researcher at Mexico City’s Center for Research for Development, or CIDAC. ”The government will have to react strongly, arresting some local Zetas drug gang heads and establishing more protection for migrants.”Image- Sky News (“A mass grave was found near the city of Monterrey in July.”)
Government and military officials were charged in the deaths of protesters days before Olympic Games opened in Mexico City in 1968. The government reported about 30 people died at the Tlatelolco Square massacre, while unofficial estimates were many times that figure.
Online Sources- The Guardian, BBC News, The Telegraph, Bloomberg, The Latin Americanist, New York Times, Amnesty International