Foreign Policy Blogs

The "Disappeared" in Mexico's Dirty War

Contributed by Rich Basas of FPA's Migration Blog: 

In Mexico's "Dirty War" between 1968 and 1971, more than 600 people were "disappeared" for their political convictions. While much progress has been made with disappeared people in Chile, Argentina and Uruguay since the 1970s and the fall of military dictatorships in those countries, there has not been the same level of attention on disappeared Mexicans within Mexico or the international community like there was with many countries in South America.

With the lack of a strong military government in Mexico and the nature of the intricate political system under the 80 years of PRI rule in the country, finding information about missing people in the process was only plausible after the loss of the PRI's political hegemony in Mexico and the political will of the new PAN government over the last 7 years.

Jose Miguel Vivanco of Human Rights Watch this week discussed the advances, or lack thereof, of the Special Prosecutor's Office which was created under the Fox Administration to investigate the disappeared people during the 70's in Mexico. Recently the office formally closed when the government published its agreement A/317/06 in the federal official newspaper. With the end of the investigation, not a single conviction was produced and only limited progress was made in uncovering the fate of hundreds of people who were "disappeared".

In Argentina, Chile and Uruguay, while there have been many difficulties and conditions in prosecuting past disappearances and abuses, Vivanco suggests that: "Mexico must still find a way to meet its obligation to investigate and prosecute these cases." While prosecutions have never been an easy task in any country, progression has come with new democratic governments in those countries most greatly affected by "disappeared" in the 1970s. With the election of another PAN government in Mexico, there must be some reconciliation in Mexico for the 600 missing people.

See: Mexico: Impunity for Past Rights Abuses Continues , Human Rights Watch



Richard Basas

Richard Basas, a Canadian Masters Level Law student educated in Spain, England, and Canada (U of London MA 2003 LL.M., 2007), has worked researching for CSIS and as a Reporter for the Latin America Advisor. He went on to study his MA in Latin American Political Economy in London with the University of London and LSE. Subsequently, Rich followed his career into Law focusing mostly on International Commerce and EU-Americas issues. He has worked for many commercial and legal organisations as well as within the Refugee Protection Community in Toronto, Canada, representing detained non-status indivduals residing in Canada. Rich will go on to study his PhD in International Law.

Areas of Focus:
Law; Economics and Commerce; Americas; Europe; Refugees; Immigration