Top Story — Mexican soldiers discovered 51 bodies in a mass grave the size of three soccer fields east of the city of Monterrey, which they believe is part of a series of executions conducted by drug cartels operating in the region.
Mexican officials discovered the graves after receiving an anonymous tip last Thursday and have been using backhoes and refrigerated trucks to find and store the bodies.
Many of the bodies showed signs of torture, with many found bound with rope, tape or handcuffs and others having been partially burned. “They could have been people linked to organized crime, [killed in] a clash, in the war that the cartels are fighting among themselves,” said Nuevo Leon Gov. Rodrigo Medina, according to the Los Angeles Times. “It undoubtedly shows the level of violence with which they confront each other.”
Medina also mentioned that many of the bodies had tattoos. “The tattoos may tell us if they belonged to one group or the other,” said Adrian de la Garza, head of a state police agency, according to Milenio television.
Several of the bodies had yet to decompose, which lead officials to believe they were killed in the past few days and that the grave was recently frequented by the killers. Officials believe that most of the bodies- 48 men and 3 women- were all killed in the last 15 days.
Monterrey has recently become a hotspot in Mexico’s drug war, with traffickers frequently blocking off roads and disrupting order in the city.
Since 2006, when President Felipe Calderón’s government began its assault on the drug cartels, 25,000 people have been killed. Calderón says the dead are mostly involved in drug trafficking but victims also include police, soldiers, mayors and civilians.
- The Organization of American States has asked the U.S. to reconsider its refusal of Colombian journalist Hollman Morris’ visa to accept a fellowship at Harvard’s Nieman Institute. (You may remember Hollman Morris from The Latin America News Dispatch’s special report on Colombia’s disgraced intelligence service.)
- The Board of Immigration Appeals is reviewing the case of Lesly Yajayra Perdomo. The board’s decision may make it easier for Guatemalan women to claim asylum in the United States, based on the argument that they face high levels of violence in their home country. Read more at the latest installment of Alison Bowen’s blog, Beyond Borders.
Headlines from the Western Hemisphere
- Prosecutors in Mexico allege that prison guards let inmates out and lent them guns to murder 17 people, during the July 18 shooting in the northern city of Torreon.
- Fidel Castro made his first public appearance in his trademark olive green shirt since falling ill four years ago, during a trip to the town of Artemesia this weekend.
- Haitian expats face challenges as they return to their home country to help rebuild after the Jan. 12 earthquake.
- Puerto Rican Gov. Luis Fortuno has declared a state of emergency for 17 flooded communities and requested federal aid.
- A couple suspected of committing a triple homicide in Panama is believed to be on the run in Bocas del Toro after killing landowners to take their property.
- A boy collecting firewood near a military firing range in Honduras accidentally detonated a grenade, injuring himself and three members of his family.
- A 1,600 year-old tomb discovered in Guatemala is believed to belong to the founder of a Mayan dynasty.
- Anticipating an attack from Colombia, Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez cancelled a planned trip to Cuba and threatened to halt oil shipments to the U.S. in the event of an invasion “promoted by the Yankee empire”.
- President of Bolivia Evo Morales called for an emergency meeting of the South American Nations Union (UNASUR) in Ecuador next week to resolve the diplomatic dispute between Colombia and Venezuela.
- The Peruvian government declared a state of emergency as temperatures have dropped to their lowest point in 46 years.
- A hundred construction workers building a hydroelectric dam in Brazil’s Mato Grosso state were taken hostage Sunday by a coalition of indigenous groups demanding compensation for the impact of the dam on their communities.
- Chilean President Sebastían Piñera rejected demands by the Catholic church to pardon individuals convicted of torture and murder during the Pinochet dictatorship.
- Outgoing Brazilian President Lula da Silva is actively campaigning for Dilma Rousseff, his party’s candidate in the presidential elections scheduled for October.
Image: Photo by Andrew O’Reilly