Drug cartels are widely believed to be behind the mass grave. Most of the victims are yet to be identified. A mother living a few blocks from the field said she had no idea it was there. In April, residents filed a complaint that the smell of rotting corpses being unearthed was seeping into their homes.
.. I’ve covered Mexico’s violence since 2001, but I am still dumbstruck by the extent to which normal life seems to carry on next door to such terrors. A study released last month found that at least 1,400 bodies were dug up from mass graves across the country between 2009 and 2014. And those are just a fraction of the 176,000 murders that police have counted here over the last decade.
.. At the same time, Mexico has a trillion-dollar economy and is the eighth-most-visited tourist destination on the planet. The government denies there is an armed conflict going on.
.. Is it simply a horrendous crime problem, or is it an actual war?
.. whether people fleeing the violence can be classified as refugees.
.. the conflict is neither just crime nor civil war, but a new hybrid type of organized violence
.. When the size of the grave was revealed, the new state prosecutor, Jorge Winckler, told reporters: “It’s impossible that nobody knew what was going on here, with vehicles coming in and out. If that wasn’t with the complicity of authorities, I don’t know how it was done.”
.. The site was discovered not by the police but by mothers searching for their disappeared children.
.. One day, when a group of mothers were marching in protest, a car drew up and a mysterious man got out to give them a hand-drawn map showing where the mass grave was.
.. These cases illustrate key features of Mexico’s drug war. Most of its victims are not killed in battles — shootouts between armed groups, or clashes with the police and soldiers — but are dragged away by gunmen or are assassinated in hits.
.. Justice is rare. One study found that four out of five murders in Mexico go unpunished. Security forces do take on the cartels in parts of the country, but the police and officials are also caught working with the criminals, and even killing for them.
.. The cartels make billions smuggling heroin, cocaine and crystal meth to America, as well as from a portfolio of rackets from kidnapping to oil theft. That money is used to bribe police and politicians, who in turn help the cartels to eliminate anyone who stands in their way
.. The victims are not only rival cartel operatives but also include customs workers who won’t take bribes, inconvenient journalists and many who simply witnessed the wrong thing at the wrong time
.. The pattern of killing is perhaps most similar to that of the death squads of a dictatorship. And in Colinas de Santa Fe, children could play obliviously while at their doorstep was a mass grave akin to those left by the Islamic State.
There are few countries in the West where anti-Americanism is as vociferously expressed as in Argentina, where a highly politicized culture of grievance has evolved in which many of the country’s problems are blamed on the United States.
.. The documents revealed that White House and U.S. State Department officials were intimately aware of the Argentine military’s bloody nature, and that some were horrified by what they knew. Others, most notably Henry Kissinger, were not.
.. The latest revelations compound a portrait of Kissinger as the ruthless cheerleader, if not the active co-conspirator, of Latin American military regimes engaged in war crimes. In evidence that emerged from previous declassifications of documents during the Clinton Administration, Kissinger was shown not only to have been aware of what the military was doing but to have actively encouraged it.
.. During the Dirty War, as it became known, as many as thirty thousand people were secretly abducted, tortured, and executed by the security forces. Hundreds of suspects were buried in anonymous mass graves, while thousands more were stripped naked, drugged, loaded onto military aircraft, and hurled into the sea from the air while they were still alive. The term “los desaparecidos”—“the disappeared”—became one of Argentina’s contributions to the global lexicon.
.. Immediately after the Argentine coup, on Kissinger’s recommendations, the U.S. Congress approved a request for fifty million dollars in security assistance to the junta; this was topped off by another thirty million before the end of the year. Military-training programs and aircraft sales worth hundreds of millions of dollars were also approved. In 1978, a year into Jimmy Carter’s Presidency, mounting concerns about human-rights violations brought an end to U.S. aid. Thereafter, the new Administration sought to cut the junta off from international financial assistance. In early 1981, with Reagan coming into the White House, however, the restrictions were lifted.
.. One of his foremost critics was the late Christopher Hitchens, who in 2001 wrote a book-length indictment entitled “The Trial of Henry Kissinger.” Hitchens called for Kissinger’s prosecution “for war crimes, for crimes against humanity, and for offenses against common or customary or international law, including conspiracy to commit murder, kidnap, and torture.”
.. generals habitually denied that anything untoward was occurring. Questioned about los desaparecidos, the coup leader, General Videla, explained with chilling vagueness, “The disappeared are just that: disappeared. They are neither alive nor dead. They are disappeared.” Other officers suggested that missing people were probably in hiding, carrying out terrorist actions against the fatherland. In fact, the vast majority were being brutalized in secret prisons by government-salaried employees, and then, more often than not, executed. As happened in Germany during the Holocaust, most Argentines understood what was really going on, but kept silent out of a spirit of complicity, or fear. A see-no-evil national refrain was adopted by those Argentines who witnessed neighbors being dragged from their homes by plainclothes men, never to return: “Algo habrán hecho”—“they must have done something.”
.. Kissinger, the longest-lasting and most iconic pariah figure in modern American history, is but one of a line of men held in fear and contempt for the immorality of their services rendered and yet protected by the political establishment in recognition of those same services. William Tecumseh Sherman, Curtis LeMay, Robert McNamara, and, more recently, Donald Rumsfeld all come to mind.
.. Unlike McNamara, however, whose attempt to find a moral reckoning Kissinger held in such scorn, Kissinger has shown little in the way of a conscience. And because of that, it seems highly likely, history will not easily absolve him.