New video evidence which could implicate federal Mexican authorities in the January murder of 16 civilians has set Mexican social media alight. The video sheds new light on a shooting in the Mexican town of Apatzingan where protesting vigilante groups and Mexican federal forces clashed, killing 16 people. (The video can be viewed here, but contains extremely graphic scenes of the aftermath of the incident.)
The hashtags #Apatzingan and #FueronLosFederales, which translates to “the feds did it,” lit up social media sites as people digested the content of the video, then shared it and graphic stills.
Accounts of the incident from witnesses and federal authorities varied considerably.The government alleges that the protesters were killed by friendly fire, but graphic video evidence released Sunday by journalist Laura Castellanos appears to show them being gunned down by the police. Witnesses had earlier claimed that those killed were unarmed, holding only sticks, and that the victims were left unattended to bleed to death in the street. The video evidence appears to back that up.
Castellanos also claims that forensics specialists tampered with evidence to cover up the federal authorities’ actions. Reports earlier said there were nine killed, but Castellanos’ report says 16 were murdered.
Apatzingan is located in the region of western Mexico called Tierra Caliente, which was under control of drug cartels until vigilante militias rose up against them two years ago. The government intervened last year when it seemed the battles between the vigilantes and the drug cartels could escalate into a potential civil war of Tierra Caliente.