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Mexico opening memorials to ‘dirty war’ torture, killings

June 11, 2019
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A visitor looks at an exhibit during the inauguration of a memorial to victims of Mexico's "dirty war" at the former Federal Security headquarters where student protesters were taken in 1971 following a violent crackdown in Mexico City, Monday, June 10, 2019. Mexican authorities opened the first in a series of memorials to victims of the country's "dirty war," marked by government-sponsored torture and extrajudicial killings of leftist students and rebel groups during nearly 20 years of violence. (AP Photo/Cristina Baussan)

MEXICO CITY (AP) — The first in a series of memorials to victims of Mexico’s “dirty war” against dissidents and guerrillas during nearly 20 years of violence was opened Monday.

Authorities unveiled the initial memorial at the former Federal Security agency’s headquarters in Mexico City where student protesters were taken in 1971 following a violent crackdown in the streets. The memorial will include declassified documents and other material from the national archives.

Deputy Interior Secretary Alejandro Encinas said at the inauguration ceremony that “the hope is to restore memory and document the severe human rights violations” from the conflict that lasted throughout the 1970s.

“We are beginning a joint recuperation of spaces where torture and killings of dissident men and women were carried out in those years,” Encinas said.

Mexico’s “dirty war” was marked by government-sponsored torture and killings of leftist students and rebel groups. Hundreds of people tied to the left were illegally detained, tortured and disappeared at the hands of Mexican security forces.

Two victims of the conflict spoke about the importance of restoring memory to these places, including Martha Camacho, a former academic who was disappeared along with her husband in 1977. They were then tortured, and Camacho’s husband was eventually executed.

“We still haven’t gotten justice,” Camacho said.

Fellow “dirty war” survivor Alberto Híjar Serrano said the rollout of these places should serve as a reminder of those who were kidnapped, killed and tortured.

He said people who were disappeared “have a face, they have a name and it’s necessary that they be remembered.”

More than 100 photographic and visual works were donated for the first memorial.

The next memorial to be unveiled will be in the lower levels of Mexico’s Department of the Interior where tortures and killings also took place.

President Andrés Manuel López Obrador said his administration will bring to justice any government officials found responsible for past abuses.

“It’s ending with our government because corruption and impunity are over,” he said. “There are a lot of pending issues, but none of these cases will be shelved. They are all open.”

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