Implications of the Inter-American Court's judgment against Mexico 2:50

(CNN Spanish) -- The Historical Clarification Mechanism (MEH), an independent public body of the government that investigates human rights violations committed in Mexico between 1965 and 1990, denounces that several files of people with knowledge of these facts or related to these cases were possibly stolen from the General Archive of the Nation (AGN). Among those files would be those of former President Carlos Salinas de Gortari and Manuel Bartlett, an official in the administration of current President Andrés Manuel López Obrador.

Made up of independent investigators, the mechanism makes this complaint in a report published early Wednesday morning. In it he points out the findings he obtained after comparing the catalog with the physical inventory of the AGN.

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It warns that, after this comparison, it can be observed that files prepared by the former Federal Security Directorate (DFS) were stolen from the AGN while they were under the protection of personnel from the National Intelligence and National Security Center (Cisen) or the current National Intelligence Center (CNI).

The DFS was an office of the Ministry of the Interior to which during the twentieth century various federal administrations commissioned the monitoring of political opponents and social movements, as recognized by the Mexican State itself and documented by academics. The DFS was dissolved in 1985 and its work was later resumed by the now defunct Cisen and the CNI.

The mechanism notes that in its research it identified "at least two moments in which it is possible to infer the extraction of documentation." One of them, he explains, was possibly before the period in which the academic Aurora Gómez Galvarriato directed the AGN, between 2009 and 2013; the other, at a later time not specified.


Gomez Galvarriato told CNN on Wednesday that, during his tenure, he sought to reduce the Cisen staff in the AGN, "from eight first that were to six, from six to four, and the AGN personnel were already more in charge, but they never fulfilled this of completely removing the personnel while I was," he said.

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The academic, now a research professor at El Colegio de México, also said that one of her concerns about officials outside the AGN guarding files was that this made it difficult to be certain about whether or not that material was properly handled.

The mechanism points out in its new report that the files it has been able to identify as missing "point to the hypothesis that part of the material that is no longer found is that which can incriminate agents, members of the government and private parties, in some serious violations of human rights, as well as other types of crimes."

"This is personnel documentation that would allow the identification of agents or their relatives. However, there were traces of the extraction of the material that is most likely protected by the CNI and that until today has not been transferred to the AGN, as should have happened in accordance with current regulations, "he adds.

CNN — which has not independently collated the documents mentioned by the mechanism — contacted the Interior Ministry and the CNI to learn their position on the mechanism's complaint.

In a statement issued on Wednesday afternoon, the Ministry of the Interior, on which the CNI depends, assures that it is attending the request of the mechanism to have access to the files on human rights violations, although it does not refer to the possible theft of documents.

"The government of Mexico is committed to the clarification of the events that occurred during the period known as the 'Dirty War,' as well as to access to justice and the right to memory of the people of Mexico," he says.

What files are missing?

The Historical Clarification Mechanism is part of the Commission for Access to the Truth, Historical Clarification and Promotion of Justice for serious human rights violations committed between 1965 and 1990. This instance was created with a decree of the president of Mexico, Andrés Manuel López Obrador, published on October 6, 2021 in the Official Gazette of the Federation.

Both the commission and the mechanism were created to clarify the abuses committed by authorities or individuals during the second half of the twentieth century, but this year the MEH has denounced obstacles to its work.

In a report published on August 15, it noted that the CNI has refused to provide the AGN with all the information it has on possible human rights violations, despite the fact that in 2019 President López Obrador issued an order to that effect. The instruction, addressed to all federal government agencies, was published on February 28 of that year in the Official Gazette.

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The Ministry of the Interior only pronounced on Wednesday on this refusal, with the promise of guaranteeing access to the requested information.

Now, in its new report, the mechanism denounces the possible theft of files of public figures such as Carlos Salinas de Gortari, president of Mexico from 1988 to 1994; Porfirio Muñoz Ledo, former Secretary of State, presidential candidate in 1994 and former president of the Chamber of Deputies who died last July; Manuel Bartlett Díaz, Secretary of the Interior from 1982 to 1988 and current director of the Federal Electricity Commission (CFE), and José Antonio Zorrilla Pérez, former head of the DFS and convicted of the murder of journalist Manuel Buendía in 1984.

The mechanism points out that the alleged extraction of the files of these people is relevant because, due to the high positions they held, they could have knowledge about human rights violations or even be related to those events.

Delivery of pending information

Regarding Bartlett's file, the mechanism's report states: "He is an extremely important character to understand state violence in the 1980s and whose reference appears in the DFS-DISEN-CISEN Catalog but not in the Topographic Inventory, that is, he is not currently in the AGN."

During his time as interior secretary in the presidency of PRI politician Miguel de la Madrid, Bartlett was responsible for the country's domestic policy. At the time, opposition politicians accused him of favoring acts of repression against government critics. However, to date he does not face any criminal proceedings for that cause.

CNN sought Bartlett through the spokesperson of the CFE, a state company he has directed since December 2018, when the mandate of López Obrador, a Morena politician, began. So far, there has been no response to the request for comment.

"Another important case of non-locatable file is that of former President Carlos Salinas de Gortari with number 121-00-227 and that is not in the Topographic Inventory although it appears in the DFS-DISEN-CISEN Catalog and was described in the consultation instruments under the administration of Aurora Gómez," the report says.

In its conclusions, in addition to criticizing the possible extraction of files from the AGN, the report insists on calling on the CNI to deliver all the information it has on human rights violations and, with this, comply with the order that President López Obrador gave in 2019.

"There is no legal reason that justifies the refusal to deliver documentation such as the one presented here, for public scrutiny, and for the work of this mechanism," he says.

Carlos Salinas de GortariHuman Rights Archive