Latin America Civil-Military Relations Update

Latin America and the Caribbean
  • César Camacho Quiroz, President of the ruling Institutional Revolutionary Party in Mexico, publicly asked for citizens to protect the Armed Forces at a time when soldiers stand accused of massacring 22 people in Tlatlaya, Mexico State, in June. Camacho called the armed forces one of the most reliable organizations in the country.
  • A social media campaign in Mexico has rallied support in defense of eight soldiers implicated in the Tlatlaya massacre under the hashtag #yosoy126. The group of supporters is planning a protest march for next Thursday and, along with the support of, insists that the victims were criminals.
  • Colombia’s Minister of Defense defended the country’s obligatory military service requirement in a debate before the House of Representatives. While he cited the security provided by the draft as necessary to maintain the peace in Colombia, he also said he was looking into the possibility of reforming the law that regulates military service in response to recruitment raids that predominantly affect poor communities, referred to as batidas.
  • InsightCrime documented the case of retired Col. Carlos Rivas Najarro, a retired army officer in El Salvador considered “progressive” because he has actively sought to increase the armed forces’ accountability for human rights abuses. Col. Rivas’s son was murdered in April. He says that authorities’ inaction in clearing up the crime is a result of the military’s opposition to his human rights advocacy.
  • In an open letter, United Nations Human Rights experts are asking President Juan Manuel Santos of Colombia to reconsider a law that would weaken civilan courts’ jurisdiction over military human rights crimes. The UN panel said that the law currently under consideration in Colombia’s Congress would be “’a major setback’ in Colombia’s longstanding fight against impunity for international human rights and humanitarian law violations.”
  • In Venezuela, the Fort Tiuna military headquarters base is flooded with goods that are inaccessible to the rest of the citizenry, who spend hours waiting in food lines as the poverty rate rises. This demonstrates a dichotomy between the privileges enjoyed by the military personnel and the serious shortage of basic goods for civilians, Bloomberg reported.
  • A military “black list” containing all who were considered criminal terrorists during the civil war in El Salvador (1980-1992) was published on September 28 by the National Security Archives.  The list contains 2,000 names, including that of Salvador Sánchez Cerén, the current president and a former guerrilla leader. Many of those included in the list were detained, tortured, disappeared, or executed.
  • The ex-Minister of Defense in Peru, Roberto Chiabra, declared that it is not viable to implement military anti-crime patrols in the dangerous zones of the capital, as was proposed by Salvador Heresi, a candidate for mayor of Lima. Heresi ultimately lost the October 5 mayoral election, finishing 4th.