A federal official has come under fire after praising the courage of members of an urban guerrilla movement that murdered a Nuevo León businessman in 1973.
Pedro Agustín Salmerón Sanginés, general director of the National Institute of Historical Studies on the Mexican Revolution (INEHRM), described the “young people” who attempted to kidnap Eugenio Garza Sada but ended up killing him and his two bodyguards as “brave.”
The killers were members of the Liga Comunista 23 de Septiembre (September 23 Communist League).
In a post on the institute’s Facebook page, Salmerón said the attempted abduction of the 81-year-old Garza, the founder of the Tec. de Monterrey university and son of the founder of the Cuauhtémoc Moctezuma brewery, was “the result of the profound division that Mexican society experienced from the 1960s.”
The September 23 communist league emerged in the early 1970s and remained active until 1981. The radical left-wing group carried out a number of violent attacks and was labeled a terrorist organization by the Mexican government.
Salmerón published his Facebook post on Tuesday but it wasn’t until Friday that it gained widespread notoriety.
The INEHRM director subsequently deleted his Facebook and Twitter accounts after a final post in which he said he rejected violence.
However, Salmerón added that the young people who killed Garza were led to violence because of their “condemnation and exclusion” by Mexican society.
Among those who condemned the original post were federal senators, the Mexican Employers Federation (Coparmex) and the Business Coordinating Council (CCE), which called for Salmerón to make a public apology.
The CCE said in a statement that anyone who seeks to deprive a person of his freedom, plans a kidnapping in order to finance the purchase of weapons for illegal activities, “murders a good man” and seeks change through violence cannot be considered brave.
It is “incomprehensible that a public official, a representative of the Mexican government, praises violence as a form of expression,” the council said.
“It’s incomprehensible that an official, who is also a historian by profession, has become an apologist of violence, a defender of crime. Society today is very hurt and these expressions only deepen the wounds . . . An episode like this doesn’t just diminish the public image of a government committed to the pacification of the country but also fuels the climate of social violence that we’re living today.”
Coparmex chief Gustavo de Hoyos called on President López Obrador to fire the INEHRM director, stating it was “unacceptable” for him to describe Garza’s murderers as brave.
National Action Party (PAN) Senator Víctor Fuentes Solís also called for Salmerón’s dismissal, describing his comment as representative of an “ideology of hate” and an “insult” to a “hero of Nuevo León and his family.”
The Nuevo León lawmaker also said that the Facebook post was an “affront” to the residents of the northern state and that the PAN won’t accept it “under any circumstances.”
For her part, Lilly Téllez of the ruling Morena party called on Salmerón to resign.
She said the guerrillas of the September 23 Communist League were not brave but “cowards” and that the attempted kidnapping and murder of Garza was a “vile act of cowardice.”