Public apology from the Mexican government for El Aguaje case (2000)
On January 28, there was an act of recognition of responsibility of the Mexican State and the signing of an agreement of amicable settlement in the El Aguaje case, a community located in Rancho Nuevo, some ten kilometers from San Cristobal de Las Casas, where a child died and two more were wounded in 2000 when a grenade exploded, which had been left by members of the 31st Military Zone, which borders the community. The event took place in the auditorium of the Faculty of Law of the Autonomous University of Chiapas (UNACH) in San Cristobal.
Jose Lopez Cruz, representing his family (his children were wounded) and Cristina Reyna Cruz Lopez (mother of the deceased child), said at the event, “The authorities never recognized that we were civilians and that our case should be seen to by a civil and not a military court, as they only cared about the type of weapon that exploded but never cared for our human rights. […] The days were long, have been long, as we have sought justice during these 15 years. Up to now, we do not know who was truly guilty of causing this tragedy and even less what their punishment was.”
For their part, the Fray Bartolomé de Las Casas Center for Human Rights (CDHFBC, better known as Frayba), which took on the defense of this case and took it to the Inter-American Commission for Human Rights, pointed out that the actions of the judiciary in Mexico came “late and in partial form, mutilated, incomplete and somewhat battered.” They highlighted that no representative of the army was present at the event saying that, “Today the main character of this story is missing […] The Mexican Army is not present because it is untouchable in Mexico; it is clear to us that it is a power above civil government.”
Representing the State, Roberto Campa Cifrían, sub-secretary for the Human Rights division of the Ministry of the Interior, recognized the responsibility of the State for not having adequately taken charge of and guarded artifacts as dangerous as rifle grenades, used for practice in security institutions. He specified that the agreement that was signed during the event includes promises of transparency in the case, acts of rehabilitation, guarantees of non-repetition, and economic compensation “fair and calculated according to the highest national and international standards in this subject”, the provision of health care, productive projects, and grants among other things. He added that the clinic in the community of El Aguaje, part of the agreement, will bear the name of Angel Diaz Cruz, the child who died when the grenade exploded.