Local link illuminates Mexican corruption

A Minnesota mother got a large glimpse of hope last week as Secretary of State Colin Powell talked with a Mexican delegation about Americans jailed in Mexico. The case of her daughter – Bloomington, Minn., native Cynthia Kiecker, accused of murder – was brought up, following letters from human rights organizations and 66 members of Congress. Along with them, we urge the U.S. government to address Kiecker’s situation, as well as the claims of torture and the incompetence of Mexican police in the investigation of other murder cases.

Kiecker and her husband claim they were brutally tortured and threatened into confessing to killing a 16-year-old girl in the city of Chihuahua. All three witnesses in the case recanted statements they say Mexican police forced them to give. Even the victim’s family believes Kiecker and her husband did not commit the murder.

Accusations of police impropriety surround many of the hundreds of deaths or abductions of females in Chihuahua, a northern state of Mexico. Some Mexican authorities claim perpetrators have been caught in various cases, while other authorities and families of the accused and victims believe the real killers are still on the loose. The latter groups claim there is no evidence against many of the accused, except coerced testimony.

Many have accused authorities in Chihauhua of pursuing only murders that draw public attention, and in those cases recklessly charging someone with the crime. There are reports of botched murder investigations and mishandled or planted evidence. Mexicans have even crossed the border to testify to the FBI because they do not trust their own authorities. Mexico, however, has turned down FBI offers of evidence, El Paso Times editor Diana Washington Valdez said.

These are only a few of the allegations credible sources and human rights organizations have made. Mexico needs to clean up its law enforcement practices and the U.S. government should utilize means available to pressure them to do so.