Mexico’s Ernesto Zedillo May Be Immune from US Lawsuit over Massacre

Fox News, 9/9/12

Former President Zedillo participated in the panel

The U.S. State Department argues that  former president of Mexico, Ernesto Zedillo, should be granted immunity from a  lawsuit filed in Connecticut over the 1997 massacre of 45 people in a Mexican  village.Zedillo, who is now an international studies professor at Yale University,  had argued that his status as a former national leader gave him immunity from  the lawsuit. He has denied the allegations that he bears responsibility for the  massacre by paramilitary groups in Acteal, in the southern state of Chiapas.

A State Department legal adviser, Harold Hongju Koh, wrote in a letter Friday  that Zedillo is entitled to immunity because the lawsuit centers on actions  taken in his capacity as president. He noted also that the Mexican government  had requested a determination of immunity

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The trials of Ernesto Zedillo

The Economist, 9/1/2012

Former President Zedillo

By the time the shooting had finished, 45 men, women and children lay dead or dying deep in the jungle. The massacre at Acteal, a hamlet in Chiapas, was the worst single act of violence during the unrest that shook Mexico’s far south in the 1990s. Zapatista guerrillas had declared war on the federal government on New Year’s Day, 1994. The fighting was brief, but sympathisers on each side then used the conflict to settle differences over land, religion and much else. The government’s supposed ties to the killers who on December 22nd 1997 opened fire on Acteal, a place mainly sympathetic to the Zapatistas, have never been fully established.

Nearly 15 years later, the Acteal murders could be tried in a court 2,000 miles away in Connecticut. Ernesto Zedillo, who was Mexico’s president from 1994 to 2000, is now a professor at Yale University. His residence in the state has given ten Tzotzil-speaking Indians, who claim to be survivors of the 1997 massacre, an opportunity to sue him in a civil court in the United States. They are seeking about $50m and a declaration of guilt against Mr Zedillo.

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10 key aspects to remember the assassination of Luis Donaldo Colosio [In Spanish]

Sinembargo, 3/23/2012

On this day, 18 years ago, there occurred in Mexico a national tragedy: the assassination of Luis Donaldo Colosio Murrieta, who had been chosen as the PRI presidential candidate by then incumbent President Carlos Salinas de Gortari. On March 23, 1994 Colosio arrived to Lomas Taurinas, a neighborhood in the city of Tijuana, for a public political appearance. He greeted the crowd and after walking through for a few miles, he was hit by two bullets: one into the head and one through his abdomen. Colosio was immediately transfered to the hospital, but died a couple of hours later.

The tragedy and the events it unfolded can be summed into 10 key aspects: 1) how and why Colosio was chosen by President Salinas; 2) the rise in arms of the Zapatista Army of National Liberation (EZLN); 3) the difficulties in Colosio’s incipient political campaign; 4) the assassin’s crime strategy; 5) Mario Aburto Martínez, who declared himself guilty of the crime; 6) the appointment of Ernesto Zedillo as the new presidential candidate of the PRI; 7) the dismissal of Miguel Montes as public prosecutor of the case, and Olga Islas as his replacement; 8) the victory of PRI in the presidential election of 1994; 9) the decision of Raúl González Pérez (fourth and last public prosecutor of the case) to declare Aburto Martínez as the perpetrator of Colosio’s assassination; and 10) the fact that this case is filed in the Archivo General de la Nación and cannot be disclosed by anyone until the year 2035, when Aburto Martínez would have completed his 45-year prison sentence.

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The evidence in the trial of Acteal (In Spanish)

CNN México, 9/26/11

La acusación en contra del expresidente Ernesto Zedillo por delitos contra la humanidad se basa en 12 evidencias que han hecho públicas los demandantes a través del sitio Acteal97.

El Plan Chiapas 94, título de un presunto informe militar, detalla los planes del Ejército para entrenar a grupos paramilitares para combatir la estructura del Ejército Zapatista de Liberación Nacional (EZLN), es la principal prueba.

También hay artículos periodísticos, cables de inteligencia presuntamente emitidos por agencias de Estados Unidos y correspondencia privada.

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*Update 9/27/11

Director Andrew Selee of the Mexico Institute states the following comment on the case against former President Zedillo:

The case against former President Zedillo seems a little odd.  The Abejas, supposed plaintiffs, claim no knowledge of the lawsuit.  Human rights groups, which have supported the Abejas claims in the past, do not seem to be involved.  And the lawyer involved has no known involvement in human rights law.  Is this a political vendetta or a real case?  It’s hard to tell…

Former President Zedillo is accused in the United States for crimes against humanity (In Spanish)

CNN Mexico, 9/20/11

Familiares de víctimas y sobrevivientes del ataque que provocó la muerte de 45 indígenas en la comunidad de Acteal, Chiapas, en 1997, demandaron al expresidente de México, Ernesto Zedillo, por su presunta complicidad en la masacre.

En la demanda de 53 páginas, que fue presentada ante una corte federal de Connecticut, con sello de fecha del 16 de septiembre, y de la que obtuvo copia CNN, se señala que la masacre de Acteal fue resultado de un presunto plan denominado Chiapas 94, que buscó acabar con el movimiento insurgente del Ejército Zapatista de Liberación Nacional (EZLN), en el sur de México.

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Drugs, Mafias, Markets (In Spanish)

Ernesto Zedillo

AL DÍA: Analysis from the Mexico Institute, Mexico Institute Director Andrew Selee

The result of a conference at Yale University organized by former President Ernesto Zedillo, these articles in Nexos present significant insight into the circular trade of drug trafficking and illicit money flows between the United States and Mexico.

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Latin American Panel Calls U.S. Drug War a Failure

Wall Street Journal, 2/12/2009

Former President Zedillo participated in the panel
Former President Zedillo participated in the panel

As drug violence spirals out of control in Mexico, a commission led by three former Latin American heads of state blasted the U.S.-led drug war as a failure that is pushing Latin American societies to the breaking point.

“The available evidence indicates that the war on drugs is a failed war,” said former Brazilian President Fernando Henrique Cardoso, in a conference call with reporters from Rio de Janeiro. “We have to move from this approach to another one.”

The commission, headed by Mr. Cardoso and former presidents Ernesto Zedillo of Mexico and César Gaviria of Colombia, says Latin American governments as well as the U.S. must break what they say is a policy “taboo” and re-examine U.S.-inspired antidrugs efforts. The panel recommends that governments consider measures including decriminalizing the use of marijuana.

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Report Calls for Fresh Approach to Latin America

New York Times, 11/23/2008

With the election of Barack Obama, the United States has a fresh chance to la_commission_report001_rcreinvigorate its relations with Latin America, according to a new report that recommends Washington overhaul its drug policies at home and pursue a rapprochement with Cuba. The report, compiled by prominent former policy-makers from the United States and Latin America and scheduled for release on Monday by the Brookings Institution, called on the new administration to put Latin America at the center of its foreign policy radar screen. The report notes the need for a new hemispheric partnership to address key transnational challenges and provides specific policy recommendations on five key areas: energy and climate change, migration, trade, organized crime and drug trafficking and U.S.-Cuban relations.

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