Saturday, November 29, 2008

US Police Train Mexican Police to Torture

A Mexican police trainer fired for hitting a female cadet was been hired by another police force in Guanajuato

La Jornada has revealed that some of the trainers responsible for the torture classes given to Leon, Guanajuato, Special Tactics police are San Diego, California, police officers from that city's SWAT team. Other trainers came from the private Mexican company Sniper, according to the Mexican government. The government released the names of the following trainers: Carlos Guillermo Martinez Acuña, Gerardo Ramon Arrechea de la Vega (the Cuban-Mexican trainer whom Narco News revealed is a high-ranking member of the anti-Castro Cuban paramilitary organization Comandos F4), Francisco Javier Jaramillo Barrios, Alfredo Torres Solano, and Martin Gonzalez Cabrera. La Jornada reports that the government did not disclose the trainers' nationalities nor their respective employers.

The torture training was discovered when videos from the classes were leaked to Leon's daily newspaper El Heraldo in June of this year. Three videos surfaced:

  • The first video portrayed an English-speaking trainer of British origins making a trainee roll through his own vomit as punishment for not completing an exercise. The government has not disclosed this trainer's name, nor the company for whom he works. Narco News identified him as Andrew "Orlando" Wilson of the US/British company Risks Incorporated. Videos of the Leon training (minus the torture segments) are posted on Risk Incorporated's website.
  • The second video shows police being trained in torture tactics that are historically popular amongst Mexican police officers: the tehuacanazo and the pocito. The tehuacanazo involves squirting mineral water up the victim's nose, which produces a burning sensation. In the pocito, the victim's head is inserted in a hole filled with feces. A participant in the leaked video stated that the hole also contained rats. During the training, a police officer whom the government says was a volunteer was subjected to both torture tactics at the same time.
  • While the first two videos were shot during the spring, the third video was shot in December 2007 or January 2008. It shows police trainer Roberto Ramírez Govea, who at the time was employed with the Leon Public Security Department, hitting a female cadet in the head during target practice. El Correo de Guanajuato reports that Ramirez was fired for this offense, but less than 15 days later was hired for the same position in the San Francisco del Rincon Public Security Department. San Fransisco del Rincon is also located in Guanajuato.

Together, the torture videos sparked international outrage. Leon's municipal government, which contracted the training, defended the courses, saying that they were necessary to prepare the police to combat organized crime. La Jornada reports that each course cost MX$82,000 (USD$6,205).

The torture videos surfaced the same day President George W. Bush signed Plan Mexico into law. Plan Mexico, which is designed to combat organized crime, will provide more training and equipment for Mexican police and soldiers, utilizing US police officers, federal agents, and military trainers. The US government thus far has not commented on the Leon torture trainings or made any promises that the similar training programs will not continue with US taxpayer money under Plan Mexico.

Comic by Magu for La Jornada. Translation: "Every day more and more Mexicans know that they're protected by the police." "Yeah, narcos, kidnappers..."


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