The first compensation payment has been made to the family of one of the victims of the Tlatlaya massacre in what represents a tacit admission that the Army engaged in arbitrary execution and authorities lied about it later.
Payments totaling as much 80 million pesos (US $5.3 million) will be made to the families of 13 of the victims in the 2014 murder of 22 people in a warehouse in Tlatlaya, State of México.
The Executive Commission for Attention to Victims (CEAV) will pay compensation to those families following recommendations by the National Human Rights Commission (CNDH). The money will be allocated according to their needs, the damage caused and how much each family depended economically on the victim, said CEAV chairman Jaime Rochín.
The payments, wrote columnist Salvador García Soto in El Universal last Saturday, are historical in that it is the first time the state has paid compensation to victims’ families.
But on top of that it is also an official recognition that Tlatlaya was an “arbitrary crime” against human rights committed by the Army, after both the Secretary of Defense and the governor of the State of México both said the 22 deaths were the result of a battle and crossfire between soldiers and criminal elements who had fired on the former, wrote García Soto.
The truth turned out to be rather different.
An Associated Press reporter visited the warehouse a few days after the June 30 shoot-out and found little evidence of a gunbattle and broke the story.
The subsequent investigation by the CNDH confirmed that some of the 22 were killed in a skirmish, but 15 were executed after they surrendered. Eyewitnesses, who had been tortured afterwards by officials in the state Attorney General’s office, also provided testimony that it was more massacre than gunbattle.
García Soto wrote that the repercussions of the compensation remain to be seen, but noted that Mexico is in the vanguard internationally for such a move.
Meanwhile, there are countless other victims of both murder and kidnapping who haven’t received a peso, an issue that bothers Isabel Miranda de Wallace, who heads the advocacy organization Stop the Kidnappings.
She said some victims have been waiting for compensation for years. “What bothers me is that the Commission for Attention to Victims is reacting to pressure from the news media, to look good in public opinion.”
Seven soldiers are in jail in connection with the Tlatlaya deaths; three of them have been accused of homicide.