Mexican Authorities Stand by Official Version of Deadly Shootout

Mexican federal police.
Huitzil, CC-BY-2.0
Mexican federal police.

Top Story — Mexican authorities on Monday reaffirmed their earlier statement that a shootout Friday between federal police officers and suspected criminal gunmen was a legitimate engagement, in which not one of the 42 gunmen killed was executed.

Mexico’s top federal police official, Enrique Galindo, said as much on Monday despite statements by people claiming to be family members of the victims that they doubted the official story, The Associated Press reported. Just one federal police officer was killed in the engagement, which took place in the municipality of Ecuandureo in the state of Michoacán, near the border with Jalisco state, the stronghold of the newly resurgent Cartel Jalisco Nueva Generación (CJNG).

Alleged family members told The Associated Press that some of the bodies showed signs of torture: a missing eye, broken teeth, a bruised face. One body had a gunshot wound to the top of the head.

In an effort to explain the high death toll, Mexico’s National Security Commissioner said a helicopter had been deployed in Friday’s operation, and that all of the dead were determined to have been shot from a distance which would preclude the possibility of executions. The CJNG was blamed for shooting down a military helicopter on May 1, a milestone in Mexico’s nearly decade-long drug war.

The shootout is the deadliest incident in recent memory in Mexico, since 15 federal police officers were killed in an ambush attributed to the CJNG.

The case echoes an incident in June in which 22 suspected criminals died in a shootout with soldiers, who did not suffer any major casualties. Several troops were later investigated for the deaths after signs emerged of irregularities suggesting many of those killed had been executed after surrendering.

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Headlines from the Western Hemisphere

North America

  • At least 10 adults and three children have perished after a tornado tore through the Mexican city of Ciudad Acuna, in the state of Coahuila, on Monday, with authorities warning that the death toll may rise.
  • Hundreds of taxi drivers took to the streets of Mexico City on Monday to protest the online car service company Uber, which protesters say enjoys an unfair advantage due to not being subjected to the taxes and registration costs that licensed taxi drivers pay.
  • El Bronco, a cowboy-boot wearing, expletive-loving independent candidate for governor in the Mexican border state of Nuevo León has gained supporters and international media attention in a country ostensibly “frustrated and exhausted by the status quo” — according to The New York Times — ahead of June 7 elections.

Caribbean

  • International gallerists and art collectors are flocking to Cuba for the 2015 Havana Biennial, which opened on Friday and runs to June 22. This is the first edition of the biennial, which debuted in 1984, to be staged after the United States and Cuba announced that they will move to restore diplomatic relations.
  • A tax bill that would help Puerto Rico raise finances as it struggles out of $72 billion in public debt, has been delayed after the Senate sent the bill back down to the House on Monday.

Central America

  • Thousands celebrated the beatification of slain Salvadoran Archbishop Óscar Romero on Saturday, whose 1980 assassination was a key chapter in the country’s bloody civil war and who is now one step closer to sainthood.
  • Panama’s former President Ricardo Martinelli is facing an investigation into claims of graft during his presidency, which ended in July 2014, during which he allegedly funneled some 15 percent of the cost of massive construction projects toward the government, which itself assumed record levels of debt under his tenure.
  • The son of former Honduran President Porfirio Lobo appeared in a New York court on Friday, after he was arrested in Haiti and accused of conspiring to traffic cocaine into the United States, a crime which carries a potential life sentence.

Andes

  • Leopoldo López, the Venezuelan opposition leader who has been incarcerated for more than a year over his alleged role in 2014 anti-government street protests, announced that he and fellow jailed opposition leader Daniel Ceballos — the former mayor of San Cristóbal — have initiated a hunger strike.
  • Peruvian President Ollanta Humala’s former adviser Martín Belaúnde is currently on the run, having escaped house arrest in Bolivia while awaiting extradition on charges of corruption, according to Bolivian officials.
  • A negotiator for the Colombian left-wing guerrilla group FARC, speaking from Havana, called the Thursday bombing raid that killed 26 FARC members a “step back,” but contended that peace talks with the government should go on.

Southern Cone

  • Nine inmates died during a prison riot between rival gang members in the Brazilian state of Bahia, during which up to 70 people — mostly visitors — were taken hostage before the riot ended on Monday.
  • The Chilean president and Chinese prime minister signed a total of 10 financial, economic, scientific and trade cooperation agreements on Monday in the South American country’s capital of Santiago.

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