Student protesters who were released from prison last weekend say they were beaten by Mexican police interrogators who threatened to rape them, burn them alive and make them disappear just like the 43 missing students from Ayotzinapa.
Following an international uproar, eleven students arrested during the November 20 demonstrations in Mexico City were finally freed last Sunday after a federal judge admitted that there was insufficient evidence against them.
Six of the students, who were held in maximum-security jails and were initially accused of organized crime and attempted murder, said they were physically beaten and psychologically tortured by the police.
Undercover cops abduct another student
Sandino Bucio, another student from Mexico City’s UNAM university who participated in the November 20 demonstrations, was abducted by plainclothes officers on the streets of the capital last week. A video shot by passersby captured the terrifying moment when Bucio was bundled into an unmarked car by his abductors.
Bucio was taken to the special police unit tasked with investigating organized crime, but the footage of his arrest soon went viral and the clamor on social media likely contributed to the decision to free him on Sunday.
Upon being released, he told the press that his abductors had grabbed his testicles, punched him repeatedly and told him that they were going to rape and murder him.
The office of Mexico’s National Security Commissioner subsequently apologized for Bucio’s treatment, saying the federal agents who detained him did not follow procedure and had been suspended pending investigation.
The allegations that federal officers assaulted and psychologically tortured innocent detainees immediately exposed the flaws in the reforms to Mexico’s police forces that President Enrique Peña Nieto announced last week.
The measures proposed by the president, which have been widely criticized, are focused solely on eradicating corruption in Mexico’s municipal police forces, while ignoring the problems that exist at state and federal level.
Police accused of infiltrating marches
Fresh evidence emerged this week that undercover police officers may have been acting as agent provocateurs in recent demonstrations so as to discredit the majority of peaceful protesters.
One video shows a police officer referring to a rioter as “his partner” and protecting him from other riot police, while in another video a man in plainclothes joins the police in beating demonstrators and an officer can be heard apologizing to one of the apparent protesters for having beaten him.
The videos were shot during another wave of demonstrations that saw protesters marching through Mexico City and dozens of other cities on Monday to call for justice for the missing students and the resignation of Peña Nieto.
Two years on from his inauguration, two opinion polls showed that Peña Nieto’s approval ratings have dropped by five to ten points in the last three months to approximately 40 percent – the lowest level for any Mexican president since the severe economic crisis of the mid-1990s.
The current unrest has spread beyond Mexico to the United States, where further demonstrations were held in 43 cities on Wednesday in a bid to pressure the U.S. government to end its considerable financial support for Mexico’s war on drugs.