By KELIN DILLON
On Wednesday, March 15, Mexico’s Undersecretary of the Interior (SeGob) for Human Rights Alejandro Encinas revealed that the five youths who were killed by the Mexican military last month in Nuevo Laredo, Tamaulipas, were unarmed and executed by the military personnel at their time of death – a version of events far from the one adopted by Mexico’s Secretary of Defense (Sedena).
Eyewitness testimonies from the crime scene say the killings occurred after seven young people leaving a Nuevo Laredo nightclub ran into a military convoy, after which they were chased by the military elements and five of the youths were ultimately killed. Both Mexico’s Attorney General of the Public (FGR) and the National Human Rights Commission (CNDH) are currently conducting investigations into the late February incident.
While the ongoing investigations have yet to draw to a conclusion, the Sedena’s official report on the incident purported that the murdered youths were wielding weapons and confrontational with the military personnel in question, and that the soldiers only fired on the youths after hearing a “rumble.”
However, Encinas claims to have evidence that directly refutes the Sedena’s version of events and places the blame squarely on the shoulders of the soldiers involved
“There is evidence to prove that the young people were not armed and that there was no confrontation,” said Encinas. “Regardless of who they were, they were executed; it was not a confrontation with the young people.”
Encinas went on to speak on the Memory Law project, which would put legal parameters in place to recognize the right of collective memory and truth surrounding incidents such as these, rather than defaulting to the state’s official version of events, which is not always the truth – as seen with the cases of the Nuevo Laredo youths and the Ayotzinapa students.
“The general law on the right to memory and the truth seeks to establish as a responsibility of the State to guarantee the memories of society, of the Mexican people,” said Encinas. “It seeks to identify the context in which the acts of repression took place, what were the responsibilities of the state and what was the response of society.”
“The most important thing is to establish the obligations of the state to guarantee this right, how to establish a relationship between justice, truth, search and guarantee of nonrepetition and show how the fact of exercising the rights of memory and truth does not interfere with other rights, such as justice or the search for people,” added Encinas.
Encinas’ proposition was met with pushback from opposition party deputies, with Party of the Democratic Revolution (PRD) Deputy Gabriela Sodi questioning Encinas on how the Memory Law could be trusted and asking “how can it be guaranteed that the memories are neutral and there will be no political charge once again, that there will be no further exploitation of events?”
“It will not be possible to contain the political charge, it is about each person giving their own interpretation, their experience of the facts, generating public debate and not seeking the official truth, but building a memory, with the sum of all memories. It must be part of the process of building memory and truth in the country,” responded Enincas in turn.
Though the legal framework of the proposed law has yet to be revealed, according to Encinas, Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador (AMLO) will officially announce the new Memory Law by the end of April.