Mexican police in “torture” class?

A story emerged here in Mexico today surrounding the emergence of a couple of videos which apparently depict the Mexican police, in the city of Leon, being instructed in the art of “torture” by an unidentified, English-speaking foreigner.

The videos are posted below – some viewers might find them offensive.

The videos – real or not – are not going to do much for the reputation of Mexico’s law enforcement agencies, which are perceived both at home and abroad as notoriously corrupt – a perception based very much on reality. Suggestions that the police are continuing to use torture – and in fact are being tutored in the art of it – will shock but not surprise.

Stories like this are tough. The initial question you have to ask, of course, is where did the videos come from? Secondly, how real are they? It wouldn’t be hard here to get hold of a police or army uniform for you and your mates, get them all dressed up and put them in front of the camera.

It’s worth noting that Mexico’s left-leaning PRD Mayor Marcelo Ebrard is currently in the midst of deep political unrest following the death a couple of weeks ago of 9 youths and three police offices in the News Divine nightclub tragedy.

A number of heads have rolled following the tragic event, in which youths as young a 13 were killed when a botched police raid turned into a stampede.

On June 24 , police officials fired 17 officers in connection with the raid, and on Thursday last week the police chief who led the raid, Cmdr. Guillermo Zayas, was charged with 12 counts of homicide. A youth advocate last week put the blame for the tragedy squarely on the shoulders of the police, saying that there was a complete lack of public policy in the city for dealing with young people. The owner of the nightclub, Alfredo Maya Ortiz, was charged with manslaughter this morning.

It would be great if the media took their eyes of Ebrard’s full-plate of problems right now, and so it’s also worth noting that Vincente Guerrero Reynosa, the mayor of León, is a Panista – i.e a member of the PRD’s rival PAN party.

One could argue that a scandal such as this – which was on the front page of today’s Reforma – seems to distract perfectly some of the attention currently being placed on Ebrard and his City Government. Could the tape have slipped out those affiliated with the PRD? Or did it just happen to turn up by coincidence, at what is such a sensitive time for the party.

Like most things in Mexico, fact merges with fiction all the time and there is so much smoke and mirrors that all one can really do much of the time is speculate. But a little speculation never hurt anyone, did it?

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