Mexico to Honor, Apologize to 52 Victims Killed in Casino Attack on 11th Anniversary This Week

For the past 11 years, friends and families of 52 people who died in an unprovoked attack on a Mexican casino have lived with grief. August 25 marks the 11th anniversary of the massacre, and the Mexican government is going to honor the victims.

Firefighters fight a blaze as it occurred during the Casino Royale, Mexico massacre 11 years ago. Mexico is finally going to publicly acknowledge its deficiencies that made the attack possible. (Image: Associated Press)

This Thursday, the Mexican government will offer a public apology to the families of fatalities of the attack on Casino Royale in Monterrey, Nuevo Leon. It was one of the deadliest organized crime attacks in Mexico, and one that has mostly gone unresolved.

Samara Pérez Muñiz, a spokesperson for the relatives of the victims, informed local media last week about the ceremony. She was in the casino with her son when the attack occurred. Her son was one of the victims.

Honoring the Fallen

The ceremony will take place at 4 PM local time, approximately the same time a group of gang members attacked the casino 11 years ago. The Municipal Palace of Monterrey will host the event.

Until now, the government never publicly addressed the attack to the satisfaction of the survivors and the community. Now, it will offer a public apology, but only after intervention from Mexico’s National Human Rights Commission (CNDH, for its Spanish acronym).

Pérez Muñiz stated that the public apologies will be from the three levels of government – municipal, state and federal. She added that the mayor of Monterrey, Luis Donaldo Colosio, and the governor of the state, Samuel García, will attend. In addition, on behalf of the federal government, Undersecretary of Human Rights Alejandro Encinas and Secretary of the Interior Adán Augusto López will attend.

To date, only a couple of those who carried out the attack have been caught. This has added frustration to the mourners’ plight, as they feel the government isn’t doing enough to bring the rest of the criminals to justice.

Authorities had one of the gang members in jail until recently. Jesús Rafael Torres Bautista was in a federal prison on a number of charges until this past July. Then, he killed himself by slitting his wrists and hanging himself with a bedsheet.

Government Inaction Partially to Blame

Pérez Muñiz said public apologies are important for the families of the victims. In addition, they’re important for New Leon in general. She added that the public apologies will serve to recognize the omissions of the State.

The CNDH was among the first to arrive on the scene following the tragedy. It later concluded that the government, while not directly responsible, shared “institutional responsibility in terms of human rights for the omissions and irregularities … during the time of operation” of the casino.

As a result of its investigation, the CNDH, in Recommendation 66/2012 (in Spanish) gave partial blame to various local and regional government entities. As one example, it cited the government’s failure to ensure the casino met health and safety regulations.

In addition, no government agency visited the property to check on its operations, such as slots or F&B service. There was also no indication that police made routine patrols in the area.

Then-state Attorney General Adrian de la Garza said the attack was because the casino refused to pay “dues” to Los Zetas. It is one of Mexico’s most notorious criminal gangs, dealing in drugs, human and weapons trafficking and more.

Joining Los Zetas as a menace to Mexico is the Los Petules gang. It doesn’t care how it gets rich, even if it means stealing from children.

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