Specter of a police state:
11 July 2008
On July 1, videos surfaced on the Internet and Mexican television depicting police officers practicing torture techniques in the city of León, Guanajuato. The videos reveal ongoing ties between Mexican authorities and US military contractors, and an escalation of repressive measures against the Mexican working class, youth and peasantry. The tapes show an English-speaking private contractor training the officers, a chilling image that brought back memories of the “Dirty War” of the 1970’s and 80’s, when the Mexican government systematically hunted down and tortured left-wing students and peasants with the complicity and assistance of the United States.
The videos were first obtained by daily newspaper El Heraldo de León. In one of them, an officer can be seen forcing a subordinate to roll around in the dirt repeatedly to the point of exhaustion; then the advisor overseeing this pulls the man by his feet and drags him through a puddle of vomit. “This punishment works,” a trainee says to the camera. Clearly, this “punishment” is a form of psychological warfare designed to humiliate and demoralize the captive.
The police officers forced to withstand this brutal treatment belonged to an elite unit called Special Tactical Group (its Spanish initials are GET) of the León Municipal Police Force. The training took place in April 2006 and lasted for 12 days. León is in Guanajuato State.
A second video shows a blindfolded man having his head submerged in a hole filled with rats and feces. He gasps and moans for air, and has mineral water squirted up his nose. This technique is similar to “waterboarding”, whereby the victim undergoes near-drowning. The Mexican police are notorious for the use of this method.
In another incident, caught on tape and transmitted by the Televisa network, officers are seen jumping on the ribs of a suspect curled in the fetal position in the back of a pickup truck. León’s Police Chief Carlos Tornero has said the case, which occurred several months ago, was under investigation but that the officers involved had “disappeared.” Clearly, these are not isolated incidents.
León Mayor Vicente Guerrero Reynoso initially insisted that the training would continue. However, because of the public furor and under pressure from federal and state authorities, he suspended the program.
Tornero said an English-speaking advisor in the video was from a private US security company, but refused to give further details such as the name of the company, who contracted the company, or for that matter the man’s identity.
Two men have been identified from the videos by the Mexican press: Jerry Wilson, a British national, and Gerardo Arrechea, a Cuban-Mexican. It is now known that both men are employed by Risk Incorporated, a military contractor based in Miami, Florida.
According to articles by Kristin Bricker, an independent journalist who lives in Mexico City (http://mywordismyweapon.blogspot.com/) Wilson is the man shown in one of the video’s dragging one of the torture “victims.” He also appears in a military assault training video distributed by Risk. Arrechea operates a martial arts school in Mexico City. In addition Arrechea is one of the directors of Comando F4, a right wing militia whose aim is to carry out armed attacks against the Cuban government. Arrechea is listed in the Comando F4 website as a ‘Marine Captain’ and as a member of the F4 board of directors.