Human Rights Commission Reports Torture Cases by Mexican Police During #1DMx

More and more stories about #1DMx are beginning to surface, and this time, they are coming from The Guardian. The site published an English-language report from Mexico City chronicling the revelation that Mexican police tortured protesters last Saturday during demonstrations against Enrique Peña Nieto, the country's new president.

Here is what The Guardian's Jo Tuckman wrote:

A preliminary investigation by Mexico City's human rights commission has found evidence of police brutality and arbitrary detentions during the violent protests during last Saturday's inauguration of President Enrique Peña Nieto.

The ongoing investigation has identified at least four cases of possible torture, three of them involving electric shocks, as well as 22 cases of unjustified arrests among the 70 people still in jail in relation to the protests. Many of these face a preliminary charge of "attacks against the public peace", which carries a long prison term.

"The important thing here is that the authorities provide convincing evidence that the people who are sanctioned were really involved in the events and that we don't see people criminalised who were protesting peacefully or, in some cases, not even participating in the protests," the head of the commission, Luis González Placencia, told MVS Noticias.

While the article focuses on the violent acts that occurred that day, it also wrote about the situation surrounding non-violent protests: "…the commission's investigation partially supports the claims of activists and relatives of some of those in jail who insist the police went after the wrong people, including two Romanian freelance journalists."

In addition, the article featured the following video, which had gone viral on Facebook, but is also now on YouTube. The video shows "a man in a mauve shirt is seen standing in front of riot police verbally demanding that they release detainees not in the picture. An officer comes up from behind to pick him up and carry him behind police lines."

#TodosSomosPresos Video Lists Illegally Detained #1DMx Protesters

Tonight the international arm of the #YoSoy132 movement tweeted us a YouTube video that allegedly lists all those who were illegally detained by Mexican authorities this past Saturday at the #1DMx demonstration against Mexican president Enrique Peña Nieto.

The hashtag #TodosSomosPresos (We Are All Prisoners) has become the official hashtag for finding more about the status of the detainees and what people are doing to try and free them.

Alleged Provocateurs Planned Violent Acts Two Weeks Before #1DMx Protests

More details have emerged about the alleged anarchist provocateurs who were paid 300 Mexican pesos to incite acts of vandalism and violence during Saturday's #1DMx protests against Mexican president Enrique Peña Nieto. (Pictures from #1DMx can be found here.)

According to news reports from Mexico, the provocateurs planned their attacks at least two weeks before the December 1 protest date. The newspaper Reforma reports that social media played in a key role in gathering those interested in committing violent acts. There was also a physical meeting where the agitators discussed details on how it they would commit the acts of vandalism, and that those details were later shared on the Internet.

CREDIT: Eneas De Troya

It is still not known who in fact organized the actual acts of vandalism during #1DMx.

Student movement #YoSoy132 has already gone on record to distance itself from last Saturday's violence. We asked their international media arm if the movement thought that Peña Nieto and the Instructional Revolutionary Party (PRI) were organizing provocateurs. This is what they sent us via email:

You claim that EPN and the PRI have sent infiltrators to the movement?

That is right. There is growing evidence that the old tactics were employed again to try to diminish a genuine pacifist movement by turning the public opinion and giving the impression that the movement is “violent” (Using again the commercial-­‐private-­‐official #Televisa and #TVAzteca duopoly, which owns 30% of the open channels in Mexico, a country with 19% of internet access). It is imperative to break this social information barrier. It is important to mention that as #YoSoy132 movement, we are sympathetic with the causes of the genuine Anarchist movement in Mexico. It is still unclear to us, whether or not some genuine Anarchist participated in vandalism (maybe more close to the truth as you only need a few infiltrators to get a lot of people in chaos).

If anyone that was identified previously with #YoSoy132 and unequivocally had participated in violent acts, him or herself is automatically out of the movement (General Principles of #YoSoy132). However, given the irregularities and inconsistencies in the accusations, we decided to ask for the release of all the comrades as we cannot risk at any time that an innocent would go to jail for 5-­‐30 years!

We demand an investigation and an official explanation about the rubber bullets used for the first time in Mexico, breaking the police protocols to only shoot up to the air. Also, we demand an investigation on the infiltrators and the persons or groups behind them, answering the question: Who paid them?

 

#1DMx UPDATE: Anarchist Protesters Say They Were Paid Off & Video Captures Brutal Police Acts

As more and more content is being shared online about #1DMx, a demonstration against Mexican president Enrique Peña Nieto, reports from Reforma, Proceso, and La Jornada are beginning to present a fuller account of what is rapidly becoming a tragic weekend in Mexico.

The #YoSoy132 movement had claimed that the protesters who committed acts of vandalism and violence were not representing the student movement, which had been promoting peaceful demonstrations. Apparently their claims were confirmed, as reports from Mexico say that members of the Youth Union of the Mexican Revolution told police that that were give 300 pesos each to show up at 7 am at San Lázaro subway station the morning of December 1. The Reforma report described the members as part of an anarchist organization. The members did not say who had contracted them or paid them.

La Jornada also reported about the following video, which shows police use rubber bullets and tear gas grenades against the protesters. It also shows civilians walking with police behind a fence, raising more speculation that police had sent infiltrators into the demonstrations. Here is the 6-minute video, which according to La Jornada, was uploaded by canalseisdejulio. All this is significant since, according to La Jornada, a police spokesperson said on Saturday that rubber bullets were not used against protesters.

Disturbing Videos of Police Actions During #1DMx Go Viral on Social Media

The #1DMx protests against Mexican president Enrique Peña Nieto (EPN) have countless of stories being shared via Twitter and Facebook. One tweet from @epigmenioibarra (a Mexican telenovela producer with over 100K Twitter followers) has garnered attention and is beginning to go viral. It should be noted that Ibarra has already been criticized by many for his acts during the student protests against EPN, yet when you have over 100K Twitter followers, you will get noticed, since in the end Twitter doesn't take the time to examine context. It just goes and moves.

The original tweet came from @soybarbarella.

Here is the video that is now being shared quickly. It shows a young man who identifies himself as Uriel Polo. He is seen behind a circle of police, bleeding. After shouting "Hasta la victoria siempre," the young man appears to faint as a police officer tells the person filming the scene that an ambulance is on its way. The video ends with the young man in the back of a police car.

As with most videos that are being uploaded at an amazing clip, very little information is shared about the story of this video. That is just one of the issues when it comes to social media reporting. Many outlets have not begun to cover the story behind this video, but we would expect that they will eventually. In the meantime, #UrielPolo has already been initiated on Twitter.

YoSoy132Media has already reported that YoSoy132's legal group has already made contact with Polo and confirmed that he is being treated for his injuries. In the meantime, there will be a press conference today about new developments regarding those protesters who have been detained. You can find more updates here.

Yesterday on Facebook, another video, which has gotten over 10,000 shares and continues to spread, shows an unidentified man being grabbed by police. The original poster of the video does little to identify the story behind this video, but apparently that doesn't matter to the people who have shared it all over the Internet.

Prof. John Ackerman Tells CNN: Peña Nieto Is Just Part of the “Old Guard”

In case you missed it, Professor John Ackerman appeared last week on CNN to discuss Enrique Peña Nieto, Mexico's newest president. Ackerman is a professor at the Institute for Legal Research of the National Autonomous University of Mexico. He pens columns for Mexico's Proceso magazine and La Jornada newspaper, and is also editor-in-chief of the Mexican Law Review. His writings and commentary about Mexican politics have appeared in several global outlets, including Foreign Policy, the HuffPost, and the Guardian.

In the following CNN appearance, Ackerman makes his case as to why Peña Nieto is not good for Mexico.

Ackerman has been a consistent observer and critic of Mexico's current political system, and he is also quick to point out what Peña Nieto's presidency could mean to an Obama administration. As he states in this recent HuffPost column: 

65% of the over 50 million Latinos who live and work in the United States are of Mexican origin. But President Barack Obama's embrace of Mexico's new president, Enrique Peña Nieto, in their meeting this Tuesday, November 27th in Washington, DC is the wrong way for him to appeal to this growing sector of the electorate. Peña Nieto hails from the old guard Party of the Institutional Revolution (PRI) which ruled the country for 71 years and represents the worst of Mexico's authoritarian past. By cozying up to this new face of reaction in the region, Obama sends a clear message that his Latin America policy will be equally as shortsighted in his second term as it was during his first. It also estranges the millions of Latino voters who were forced to leave Mexico because of the gross economic mismanagement and authoritarian politics of Peña Nieto's predecessors from the PRI.

Peña Nieto’s Promises of Change Ring Hollow in the Streets of Mexico

On December 1 Enrique Peña Nieto (EPN) was inaugurated as Mexico’s 57th president. During the inauguration speech in Mexico City he said the first aim of the new government “is to bring peace to Mexico” and that the country “had lost ground” in the 12 years that his party, the Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI), had been absent from power.

A quick look at the history of PRI reveals the hypocrisy of these words—PRI ruled Mexico undemocratically for 71 years. The "transition" to democracy took place in 2000 when an opposing party won the national elections for the first time. PRI’s time in power was characterized by corruption, repression, and impunity. During decades of uninterrupted power, PRI became firmly entrenched in all levels of political life in Mexico, making a functioning democracy virtually impossible.

Party politics aside, EPN himself has a tainted record—most notably as the governor of the state of Mexico during the brutal repression of protesters in San Salvador Atenco in 2006. The birth of the #YoSoy132 movement followed a campaign visit by EPN to the Ibero-American University in Mexico City earlier this year.  During the visit students interrupted EPN’s speech to protest his involvement in the atrocity.

EPN won the July national election by securing just 38% of the votes. He assumes power despite major voting day irregularities, claims of vote buying, and media bias in favor of EPN, as well as ongoing protests in key cities across the country.    

The hashtag #PeñaNietoNoEsMiPresidente was trending on Twitter just hours before EPN officially assumed power at the stroke of midnight.  Protests on inauguration day were tamer than those which followed the last election, but thousands of people still turned out to voice their anger at the new president. 

In Mexico City authorities were prepared for battle—the San Lázaro Palace that houses the lower chamber of Congress in particular was like a fortress. Several nearby metro stations were closed all week and 3-meter-tall barricades were erected outside. Inside Congress, opposition members gave protest speeches and hung up a banner that read, “Imposition consummated. Mexico mourns.” 

Outside Congress hundreds of protesters threw Molotov cocktails, firecrackers and rocks at police, managing to breach the steel barricade at one point.  Police responded by spraying tear gas from a truck and using water cannons. Countless images can be found on social media of protesters wearing gas masks and scarves across their faces to block out the acrid tear gas that left a hazy cloud over the parts of the city where it was used.

Both the #YoSoy132 movement and Section 22 of the SNTE teachers union have distanced themselves from any acts of violence, reaffirming their call for peaceful protest. They are reporting infiltration of the movement and suggest that agents provocateurs are responsible for some of the damage seen yesterday. Some protesters were seriously injured, including a 22-year-old protester who lost his right eye after being hit in the face by a projectile.  Many others suffered less serious injuries and 103 were reported arrested. 

In terms of the presidency, Peña Nieto takes over “a seat bathed in blood”, with over 60,000 deaths attributed to the war on drugs that his predecessor Felipe Calderón started in 2006. So which direction will EPN’s presidency take?

While Calderón will be remembered for his militarization of the drug war, EPN looks set to forge ahead and crack open Mexico’s markets even further to outside investors. He spent much of October touring Europe touting for business, and he has controversial plans to open up Mexico’s state-owned oil giant Pemex to private investment. 

Of course the big issue for many Mexicans is security. EPN has said he will break away from the militarized approach of Calderón and will focus on reducing violence, rather than going after drug kingpins and intercepting shipments of drugs. He has not offered any specifics on how he will achieve this, but in terms of the US involvement in the war on drugs, he has said he will continue to work with them but will not allow armed US agents on Mexican soil. 

Overall there may not be much to celebrate in Mexico as “power transitions from one human rights violator to the next.” It will be interesting to see how long and how strong the protest movements remain. If EPN does not break away from the old PRI tactics of corruption and repression, it may be a galvanizing force for the population. As one piece of graffiti in Mexico City read this weekend, “We are not guerrillas, but soon we will be.”

 

***

Jen Wilton currently lives in Oaxaca, Mexico and reports on social and political issues related to Mexico and Latin America more widely. Jen tweets as @guerillagrrl and blogs at revolutioniseternal.wordpress.com

Alternative Media Collective “Emergencia MX” Releases 18-Minute YouTube Video of #1DMx

Today, the YouTube channel of EmergenciaMx.org released an 18-minute video of the #1DMx protests, which occurred this Saturday. According to its site and Facebook page, EmergenciaMx is an alternative non-profit media collective of filmmakers, artists, and communicators that offers different points of view that you won't in in mainstream Mexican outlets that "form part of the status quo of a media system that is neither competitive not democratic."

Here is an 18-minute video that the collective uploaded today. It is a disturbing and sobering video, and it makes little distinction from peaceful demonstrators and alleged anarchist protesters who turned parts of the demonstrations violent. This video is pretty raw.

What Happened in Mexico Yesterday: #1DMx

As with any story that is covered online and fed quickly through social media, there is always a desire to get as much accurate information as possible. Stories that organically grow and spread through online circles will always be that way. It is the new journalism, an uneasy balance between on-the-ground tweets, pics, videos, and posts, and official news outlets. In this day and age, where news can happen with a smart phone, we find that immediacy of news is a reality that will not go way, but at the same time a combination of different sources will always give as full of a picture as possible.

Such is the case of #1DMx, the hashtag that was used for the marches against allegations that Mexico's newest President, Enrique Peña Nieto of the Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI), was fraudulently elected. Much has been written about that, and as with any story, you will have those who believe that the PRI's return to power after 12 years is just an example of democracy in action (the PRI ruled Mexico for 71 consecutive years) and those who believe that the PRI's will revive the party's ugly history of political repression and control. Both of those opinions and the gray areas between those opinions are being published and played out online, not only through social media, but through media outlets. It is a battle of opinions, and those opinions have been quite strong, no matter where you look.

We will try here to share what a few of those organizations outlets are reporting and let readers decide about the information that is being shared. As with any story that is constantly moving online, there will be always be quick reactions and more information. Social media plays a role in that, and the speed of information is just the new normal. Consider this post a pause from the barrage of information that is getting shared right now. 

  • The #YoSoy132 movement, which has been protesting against Peña Nieto since early this spring, has been quick to condemn and distance itself from many of the violent acts that were reported yesterday. The movement's focus has been to share the news about claims that the Mexican government has repressed many protesters, how some protesters are missing, and how many have been injured. Sources like YoSoy132Media.org continue to provide constant updates about recent events, and they continue to move rather quickly. For example, it was originally reported that a protester had died last night, when in fact he is still alive but in grave condition. That is what happens when news is shared so quickly.
  • A lot of photos are being uploaded and it can feel overwhelming. This #1DMx source provides many of the more popular ones being shared. Some photos show peaceful demonstrations, while other photos are more troubling. Images are indeed powerful, and they are open for interpretation, both good and bad. Another fact of social media reporting.
  • As with any movement or event that is now being covered online, there are many sources that report the information. As with any story or movement, bias is everywhere. All media is biased, no matter how independent it claims to be. For us, besides checking out the YoSoy132 pages, we also tend to check out Proceso, which presents a full picture in Spanish about yesterday's events here (15 civilians wounded, 20 uniformed police wounded and 65 arrested), as well as La Jornada and Milenio to see how else the news is being reported. We tend to look at these outlets with a critical eye, as we do with anything we read and share. 
  • American news outlets appear to be showing just a small slice of the story, as the Associated Press lumps all the protesters as "vandals," also  reporting that "at least 76 people were treated for injuries, including 29 who hospitalized, as the result of clashes between protesters and tear-gas firing police, the Red Cross said. City officials said 103 people were detained, including 11 minors." The New York Times this morning barely made mention of the protests, focusing instead of Peña Nieto's speech, but it did report the following: "Later, outside the national palace, scores of mostly young masked people, shouting anti-PRI slogans, clashed with the police, set fires, threw rocks and vandalized hotels and stores along several blocks. More than 90 were arrested and several were injured, and Mayor Marcelo Ebrard later blamed anarchist groups for the trouble."
  • The Occupy movement is also covering the news from Mexico and it reported the following: "the protesters marched on Congress in Mexico City and were met with large squadrons of riot police, enormous barricades, rubber bullets, tear gas, and gas bombs. Reports claim approximately 30 people have been injured, several critically." The Occupy page also shared several links on social media that are sharing the story.

There is saying that there are two sides to every story, and that the truth is somewhere in between. So, while the AP posts this video without any context, other videos, like the ones that follow, are being shared on YouTube.

AP's video

Other Videos from YouTube. There are so many, we have lost count.

We would expect that anyone who is interested in what is happening in Mexico continue to check different reports and sources. Our page does not claim to be the definitive source (and it never will). Anyone who expects that will be disappointed. What we can promise is that we will try to curate content that seems interesting and newsworthy so that our readers can decide and determine for themselves what they think about these recent developments.

As for us? We do think that the current political system in Mexico is a quasi-oligarchy and that true democracy is still a pipe dream there (many would say that this is the case of the United States as well). Events like #1DMx bring out the worst and best in people, but at least people are talking and sharing opinions. Will such dialogue lead to change, and if so, what will that change look like? Those questions continued to be asked, but have yet to be answered.

Social Media Pics and Videos from the #1DMx Protests

Today, social media is active as images and videos chronicling protests against Enrique Peña Nieto, Mexico's new president.

Here is just a sample of what has been shared the last few hours.