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The Dawn of Mexico's Dirty War
Lucio Cabañas and the Party of the Poor

by Kate Doyle

Research assistance by Isaac Campos Costero, Eli Forsythe and Emilene Martínez Morales

Special thanks to Suboh Suboh for his technical assistance

Posted - December 5, 2003

 

This new Electronic Briefing Book is based on a collaboration between Proceso magazine and the National Security Archive and launched on March 2, 2003.

The collaboration grew out of a shared desire to publish and disseminate to a wide audience newly-declassified documents about the United States and Mexico. Each month, Proceso magazine will publish an article by the Archive's Mexico Project director, Kate Doyle, examining new documentary evidence on a chosen topic. The series - called Archivos Abiertos (or, Open Archive), will draw from U.S. and Mexican declassified records on a range of issues that could include, for example: drug trafficking and counternarcotics policy, Mexican presidential elections, human rights cases, immigration, U.S. training of the Mexican military, NAFTA negotiations, the role of the press, peso devaluations, and state repression during Mexico's "dirty war." On the same day that Proceso's article appears in Mexico, the National Security Archive will post an Electronic Briefing Book on its web site, containing an English-language version of the article, a link to Proceso's web site, and all of the declassified documents used for the piece, reproduced in their entirety.

 

Contents
Article
Documents
Link - Proceso Magazine
El artículo en español (PDF - 844 KB)

The Dawn of Mexico's Dirty War
Lucio Cabañas and the Party of the Poor

by Kate Doyle

Lucio Cabañas Barrientos - a native son of Guerrero, school teacher-turned-revolutionary and chief of the small rebel force dubbed the Party of the Poor - was nothing more than an ordinary bandit, according to the government he so fiercely opposed during the 1970s.

A thug, a criminal, a gang leader, said Defense Secretary Hermenegildo Cuenca Díaz. Working "for very dark interests," hinted President Luis Echeverría ominously, "trying to provoke regressive or conservative tendencies.

American military, intelligence and political officers viewed Cabañas in a somewhat different light.

"The most important single leader" of the Mexican armed opposition, wrote the State Department in 1972. "Mexico's best known guerrilla," agreed the CIA in a top secret analysis in 1974. "He enjoys widespread support and sympathy among the peasants."

Not that the United States government actually feared a left-wing coup against the Echeverría regime. To the contrary - throughout the darkest years of Mexico's dirty war, Washington rarely worried about the stability of its southern neighbor. Confident of the overwhelming power of the Mexican presidency to control dissent, American policy makers tended to view the opposition in Mexico as an irritant rather than a significant threat.

But Cabañas and his followers - along with the fractured gangs of urban terrorists and student revolutionaries operating in Mexico in the late 1960s and 70s - represented more than the sum total of their armed attacks, kidnappings for profit, bombing attempts and murders.

For many U.S. analysts, they suggested the troubling possibility that impoverished Mexicans were waking up to the oppressive bonds of a stultified one-party system that no longer offered hope for change.

In telling the tale of Lucio Cabañas's brief career as a guerrilla leader, declassified U.S. documents released under the Freedom of Information Act and held in the National Archives indicate that the United States perceived the popularity of the Guerrero rebels as a sign of the further disintegration of the legitimacy of the Mexican regime during the 1970's, following the Tlatelolco and Corpus Cristi massacres.

The documents also make clear that Echeverría used the hunt for the radical left to mollify a disgruntled army and bolster his standing with the right. They describe how given the choice between repression and negotiation, political stasis or change the regime predictably, inexorably chose violence to preserve the status quo.

A Dispirited Military

Along with Genaro Vázquez Rojas, fellow teacher-turned-rebel, Lucio Cabañas launched an armed rebellion in the mountains of Guerrero during the late 1960s against what they considered a brutal and unresponsive regime.

Government efforts to defeat Guerrero's tiny guerrilla forces began under Díaz Ordaz. By early 1971, the Mexican army had stepped up its campaign. All four military battalions stationed in Guerrero were operating against the rebels.

At the time, the military as an institution was struggling to combat declining morale. Low pay, scant resources, an aging upper echelon and rusting equipment all contributed to discontent and restlessness within the armed forces under Echeverría.

Its public image was also suffering. There was lingering resentment at the tarnishing of the military's image in the wake of the massacre at Tlatelolco in 1968, when army troops were used to crush student demonstrators, sparking national and international outrage. To make matters worse, the counterinsurgency campaign against the guerrillas in Guerrero was faltering, despite ever-increasing commitments of manpower and resources.

In 1971, a massive new assault dubbed "Operación Telaraña" had been launched by the military with much fanfare but with very little to show for it. Given the publicity surrounding the effort, one United States embassy report pointed out in December, "the failure must be even more galling."

Failure in the field prompted increasing secrecy, obfuscation and cover-up by the regime on the occasions when it discussed the rebels in public. But while General Cuenca Díaz continued to refuse to acknowledge the existence of the guerrillas, the occasional successes scored by the rebels against the government made them impossible to ignore.

Rebel forces carried out three spectacular kidnappings in 1971, reaping millions of pesos in ransom as a result. U.S. intelligence also indicated that guerrillas may have been behind the shoot-down of a helicopter in April of that year belonging to Guerrero Governor Caritino Maldonado Pérez, killing him and others on board.

The developments caused concern in Washington, where State Department analysts wondered in September 1971 if Mexico had an "emerging internal security problem."

Although intelligence sources indicted that "Echeverría is taking a direct interest in security force operations," the combination of a disgruntled military and the rising challenge from the left was worrisome. One solution, observed the State Department, would be for Echeverría to give the military more resources and freedom to operate. "The troops," stated the same secret intelligence report, "would probably be willing to forget their difficulties temporarily if given the chance to crack a few heads.

The President, apparently, agreed. It is clear from the documents that Mexican armed forces were given increasing freedom to operate in Guerrero, whatever the consequences for Mexican civilians caught in the crossfire.

Dirty War Tactics

The intensification of dirty war tactics in the counterinsurgency campaign against rural guerrillas and Mexico's urban terrorists was one of the inevitable results of Echeverría's desire to tamp down military dissatisfaction by giving the army and the security forces carte blanche to attack the left.

The year 1972 opened with the death of Genaro Vazquez on February 2 in an automobile crash while fleeing the authorities. There were mass detentions in Guerrero: at least ten members of Vázquez's National Civic Revolutionary Association (ACNR) and 69 people "linked to Lucio Cabañas" were arrested by security forces in late January and early February. By mid-1972, after two separate ambushes carried out by Party of the Poor forces against army troops operating in Guerrero killed 26 soldiers and captured more than 50 weapons, the U.S. embassy was describing reports of mass detentions in Guerrero and the extensive use by security forces of torture during interrogations.

"In dealing with the terrorist problem, the government has relied heavily on the security forces, which are reasonably competent and have been increasingly effective," observed the State Department in November 1972. Guerrero posed special problems, however.

The terrain there inhibits the maneuvers of the security forces, and on the most recent occasions the guerrillas have been able to engage army units at times and places of their choosing, inflicting heavy casualties. The army has responded with sweeping roundups on a fairly indiscriminate basis, and recently there have been reports in the Mexican press that prisoners were interrogated under torture.

Illegal detentions, torture and, increasingly, disappearance were used as weapons against not only armed combatants, but Cabañas family members and suspected subversives as well. Embassy reporting in 1974 indicated a growing hard line on the part of the government toward the guerrillas and anyone linked to them.

There are recurrent reports of detention of "suspects" whose only connection with anti-governmental activity may be blood relationship with wanted guerrillas; of persons detained extra-constitutionally by military authorities, […] and of prisoners tortured while in detention. Lately, there have been indications also that GOM [Government of Mexico] has murdered some prisoners after extracting all information they have to give…

The newly savage techniques would have devastating effects. Today, Mexican human rights groups say they have collected evidence of some 650 cases of civilians who disappeared from Guerrero during the dirty war - more than 400 of them from Atoyac de Alvarez alone, the village where Lucio Cabañas lived, and where his surviving family members still live.

The Legacy of Violence

Although American officials agreed with the Mexican government's imperative to defeat the rebels, they also viewed with mounting skepticism and dismay Echeverría's decision to rely exclusively on force to do so. As United States intelligence analysts observed in 1971, prolonged repression on the part of the government "would greatly reduce the President's ability to work out solutions to Mexico's more fundamental problems of rural and urban poverty, a veritable population explosion, and the growing disillusionment of the younger generation."

Echeverría, claimed the State Department one year later,

is aware of the political/economic and social inequities imposed by Mexico's closed economic system and its one-party power monopoly. He has instituted changes in tax, labor and social security law and has taken pains to create the impression that vigorous steps are underway to improve the lot of the lower income sectors. However, few tangible benefits have filtered down to the masses...

Throughout 1973 and much of 1974, government efforts to stop Cabañas continued to falter, and embassy reports to Washington reflected the U.S. perception that the regime's failure was due not simply to the incompetence of the security forces. The army was not succeeding because the campesinos in Guerrero supported Cabañas, analysts believed.

In April 1973, following yet another announcement of a stepped-up assault on the Guerrero "bandits," the United States embassy cabled, "It is apparent that Cabañas and his group operate freely in Guerrero. Implications are that local populace, for whatever reasons, continues to afford Cabañas cover. It therefore is problematical whether announced new campaign will be any more successful than were previous efforts to capture Cabañas."

The chase finally came to a head after Cabañas and his Party of the Poor kidnapped state Senator Ruben Figueroa and four aides in May 1974. Echeverría's security apparatus mounted an enormous manhunt to track down the guerrillas which culminated in the staged "rescue" of the senator and his companions. While the regime touted the rescue as a daring operation that took place during a shoot-out with rebel forces, in fact it was due to a secret payment to Cabañas - part of a ransom he had demanded for Figueroa's liberation.

The CIA was pessimistic about the significance of the army's victories in late 1974. On September 10, the agency published an article in its top-secret internal newsletter, the National Intelligence Daily, in which it emphasized the Echeverría regime's failure to address the underlying causes for dissent and armed opposition in Mexico:

A large part of the government's response to political violence consists of intensive police work and, as in the Cabañas case, the massive application of military manpower. The rest of the response is a mix of public spending - and political rhetoric. The Figueroa kidnapping, for example, brought forth a huge publicity effort to demonstrate how much the Echeverría government has done for Guerrero.

Although the security forces may improve, none of the other measures holds much hope for success any time soon. The government's social and economic programs cannot be expected in the near term to ameliorate the conditions that gave rise to the terrorist and the guerrilla.

The CIA's assessment of the future was no less pessimistic after the death of Cabañas in a shoot-out with soldiers in December 1974.

Lucio Cabañas, Mexico's premier rural guerrilla chieftain, was killed in a battle with Army troops on December 2. Some 20 of Cabañas' band also were reported killed in the clash.

Cabañas had eluded authorities for years, but the Army began to close in after he kidnapped a wealthy senator last May. The senator was freed during a gun battle in September.

Cabañas' death will be a severe blow to his "Party of the Poor," but the mountains of Mexico's southern Guerrero state are a traditional spawning ground of bandits and guerrillas that may produce new leaders to take up the cause.

Such was the inevitable legacy of Lucio Cabañas and of the dirty war created to destroy him. That legacy continues today, as the government of Mexico tries to prosecute the crimes of the dirty war in Guerrero, an attempt that, as of this writing, has come to nothing.


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Documents

Document 1
May 27, 1971
Defense Secretary Denies Existence of Guerrillas in Mexico
U.S. Embassy in Mexico, confidential telegram

Mexican Defense Secretary Hermenegildo Cuenca Díaz denies that guerrillas are operating in the state of Guerrero and instead attributes recent guerrilla-type activity in the region to ordinary "bandits." Although the government has deployed four army battalions in Guerrero against the rebels, Cuenca emphasizes the military's role in civic action, which he claims are being welcomed by the locals. In the Embassy's assessment, Cuenca's comments are intended to "play down the guerrilla issue" in the wake of other recently publicized revelations about leftist groups opposed to the regime.

Source: National Archives, RG 59 1970-73
Pol 23-8 Mex, Box 2476


Document 2
September 23, 1971
Mexico: An Emerging Internal Security Problem?
State Department Bureau of Intelligence and Research, secret intelligence note

The State Department cites continuing student dissatisfaction along with emerging guerrilla activity as potential threats to Mexican security. Particularly worrisome is the possibility that the students and the rebels might join forces. The result, State warns, could be a vicious circle where the Echeverría Administration is forced to dedicate ever-increasing resources to the armed forces and thus neglect crucial social programs that could ameliorate the material sources of discontent.

Source: National Archives, RG 59 1970-73
Pol 15 Mex, Box 2475


Document 3
December 9, 1971
Mexico: Ransom Payoffs Will Encourage More Political Kidnapping
State Department Bureau of Intelligence and Research, confidential intelligence note

Following two highly publicized kidnappings (both personal friends of the Mexican President) for which ransom was paid by the Mexican Government, this analysis warns that anti-government groups might be more encouraged to use abduction to obtain funds for their activities. The report observes that although Echeverría "is taking a direct interest in security force operations," he is dissatisfied with the counterinsurgency measures taken by his military so far.

Source: National Archives, RG 59 1970-73
Pol 23-8 Mex, Box 2476


Document 4
December 30, 1971
The First Year of the Echeverría Administration
U.S. Embassy in Mexico, confidential airgram (extract)

This assessment of Echeverría´s first year in office describes the so-far failed efforts to stamp out guerilla activity in the state of Guerrero. After listing the major guerrilla groups active in Mexico the Embassy notes that "the combined membership of these organizations probably does not exceed a few hundred persons, but the rate at which they have come to light during the year, their geographic dispersion, the extent of their activities, and the evidence of coordination among some of them all suggest that they constitute more than a mere nuisance to the GOM [Government of Mexico]."

Source: National Archives, RG 59 1970-73
Pol 15 Mex, Box 2475


Document 5
August 5, 1972
Internal Security: Arrest of Guerrero Ambush Suspects and Other Developments
U.S. Embassy in Mexico, confidential telegram

More than a month after an Army truck is ambushed in Guerrero, the Embassy reports that the Mexican military has arrested suspects who clearly hail from the low ranks of the Cabañas organization. The telegram also states that federal, state and military officials continue to adhere to the position that the ambush was not politically motivated since Mexico "has only bandits not guerrillas." The Mexican government has shown that it knows where to look for these "bandits" through its ongoing military search operations in Guerrero and the detention of several of Cabañas' relatives for questioning.

Source: National Archives, RG 59 1970-73
Pol 23-9 Mex


Document 6
October 2, 1972
Chamber of Deputies Decides Not to Call Defense Secretary
U.S. Embassy in Mexico, confidential telegram

After overwhelming opposition by the ruling Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI) defeats a motion by the National Action Party (PAN) to force Secretary of Defense Cuenca Díaz to testify before Congress about Mexico's security situation, the Embassy observes that the Echeverría Administration seeks to avoid discussing the guerrilla issue in order to evade a "potentially embarrassing public airing of the problems." However, the Embassy notes that "some might interpret the denial as an indication that Administration is trying to cover up situation which is more serious than public has been led to believe."

Source: National Archives, RG 59 1970-73
Pol 15 Mex, Box 2475


Document 7
November 29, 1972
Mexico: Terrorism Still on the Rise
State Department Bureau of Intelligence and Research, secret intelligence note

An assessment from the INR reports that "the dimensions and seriousness of the terrorist guerrilla problem in Mexico are only now becoming evident" and that individual incidents have become "increasingly embarrassing" to the government. Lucio Cabañas is mentioned as the most important leader of the insurgent movements. Given the magnitude of the problem, Echeverría has been relying heavily on security forces, which are conducting "sweeping roundups on a fairly indiscriminate basis" in an attempt to disrupt the guerrillas.

Source: National Archives, RG 59 1970-73
Pol 23-8 Mex, Box 2476


Document 8
January 2, 1973
The Second Year of the Echeverría Administration
U.S. Embassy in Mexico, confidential airgram (extract)

Assessing the second year of Echeverría's sexenio, the Embassy expresses concern over the continued refusal of the Mexican government to publicly admit that a guerrilla problem exists. Although Genaro Vázquez was killed in a car accident, the armed opposition is far from defeated now that Lucio Cabañas has replaced Vázquez as the country's best-known guerrilla leader.

Source: National Archives, RG 59 1970-73
Pol 2 Mex, Box 2472


Document 9
April 15, 1973
Another Search for Lucio Cabañas
U.S. Embassy in Mexico, secret cable

According to Guerrero Attorney General Guillermo Román Román, the Lucio Cabañas group, while still armed and dangerous, has been isolated and has lost the support of the countryside. The Attorney General argues that this turn of events will translate into greater campesino cooperation with the government's efforts to track down Cabañas. The Embassy questions the accuracy of this assessment, commenting internally that "Cabañas and his group operate freely in Guerrero. Implications are that local populace, for whatever reasons, continues to afford Cabañas cover."

Source: National Security Archive FOIA Request No.18971
Released June 2000


Document 10
April 19, 1973
Assassination of Kidnapping Victim by Lucio Cabañas Group in State of Guerrero
U.S. Embassy in Mexico, cable

After his family fails to pay a ransom demanded by the Cabañas group, kidnapping victim Francisco Sánchez López is killed by members of the Party of the Poor. The Embassy comments that the "assassination of Sánchez López indicates that Cabañas' group is still very much alive and active."

Source: National Security Archive, Freedom of Information Request No.18971
Released June 2000


Document 11
April 19, 1974
FAA Section 32 - Political Prisoners
U.S. Embassy in Mexico, secret cable

The U.S. Embassy describes the "uncompromising" attitude of the Mexican government towards "persons who have taken up arms against the state". Security forces appear "frequently to overstep legally prescribed procedures" while engaging pursuing members of armed opposition groups or urban terrorists, relying on extra-constitutional detention and torture, among other violations of basic constitutional rights. The Embassy also reports evidence that "the GOM has murdered some prisoners after extracting all information they have to give."

Source: National Security Archive, Freedom of Information Request No.13024
Released October 1997


Document 12
June 3, 1974
PRI Gubernatorial Candidate in Guerrero Reportedly Abducted by Cabañas Guerrilla Organization
U.S. Embassy in Mexico, confidential cable

Unconfirmed reports in the press indicate that PRI Senator Rubén Figueroa has been kidnapped by the Cabañas group. The Embassy speculates that this will represent the first real test of Echeverria´s "no deal" policy on kidnappings.

Source: National Security Archive, Freedom of Information Request No.18971
Released June 2000


Document 13
June 5, 1974
Kidnaping Tests Mexican Policy
CIA National Intelligence Daily, top secret article

In its analysis of the Figueroa kidnapping, the CIA National Intelligence Daily explains that the Echeverría Administration has been placed in an awkward position. "The kidnaping by leftist guerrillas of a well-known Mexican Senator will test the Echeverría government's policy of not giving into kidnapper's demands." Interior Minister Moya has stated that "the Federal Government will make no decision on how it will react until it is certain that the victims are alive and Cabañas' demands are made more precise."

Source: National Security Archive, Freedom of Information Request No.18970
Released July 2001


Document 14
June 14, 1974
Mexico: Rural Discontent
CIA Directorate of Intelligence, top secret review

While reporting on the continued captivity of Senator Figueroa in Guerrero, this intelligence review also summarizes some of the roots of unrest in Mexico. "The unrest is partly a result of corruption and exploitation, but ignorance, population pressures, a shortage of good land, and the concentration on industry during the last 30 years also play a part."

Source: National Security Archive, Freedom of Information Request No.18961
Released June 2000


Document 15
June 26, 1974
Cabañas Issues Third Communiqué with "Outrageous" Demands; GOM Mounts Military Operation Against Him
U.S. Embassy in Mexico, confidential cable

Lucio Cabañas issues a communiqué setting conditions for the release of Ruben Figueroa. US intelligence information indicates that the Mexican Government has no intention of complying with Cabañas' demands and is mounting an intensive anti-guerrilla operation to hunt him down and kill him, accepting the risk that Figueroa may be killed in the process.

Source: National Security Archive, Freedom of Information Request No.18971
Released November 2002


Document 16
June 27, 1974
Echeverría Orders Military Operations Against Guerrillas
CIA National Intelligence Daily, top secret article

The National Intelligence Daily reports that President Echeverría has ordered a military operation against Lucio Cabañas in order to secure the release of Senator Figueroa. The guerrilla leader's demands with respect to the Senator's release were deemed "impossible" by the Echeverría Administration. The report also comments that a successful operation will likely mean the death of Cabañas.

Source: National Security Archive, Freedom of Information Request No.18970
Released July 2001


Document 17
July 8, 1974
Mexican Guerrilla Leader has Eluded Military Operations
CIA National Intelligence Daily, top secret article

The CIA describes the failure of Mexican army operations to free Figueroa and speculates that the Senator has likely already been killed by the guerrillas. While the capture of Cabañas looks unlikely, President Echeverría nonetheless appears to be planning a permanent military deployment in Guerrero.

Source: National Security Archive, Freedom of Information Request No.18970
Released July 2001


Document 18
July 19, 1974
Mexico: The Figueroa Case
CIA Directorate of Intelligence, top secret review

After three weeks of operations of unprecedented scale, efforts to capture Lucio Cabañas and secure the release of Senator Figueroa have been unsuccessful. The Figueroa situation has forced the Mexican Government to comment on the guerrilla problem with Echeverría claiming that "guerrilla movements are not working for revolutionary interests but are trying to provoke regressive tendencies." In the CIA's estimation, "the government's inclination to dismiss a problem with slogans will not ease the situation".

Source: National Security Archive, Freedom of Information Request No.18970
Released July 2001


Document 19
July 27, 1974
Guerrilla Leader Evades Operation by Mexican Army
CIA National Intelligence Daily, top secret article

In another comment on the Figueroa case, the CIA reports that there are still no substantive results after a month of operations and expects that the "army's poor showing" will lead to changes in the high command.

Source: National Security Archive, Freedom of Information Request No.18970
Released July 2001


Document 20
August 20, 1974
Government Efforts to Capture Lucio CABAÑAS
Defense Intelligence Agency, confidential intelligence information report

After unsuccessful attempts to capture Lucio Cabañas, the DIA receives information that a district commander has resigned in Guerrero. The agency's source states that that he is not optimistic about the government's chances of success given the difficult condition of the terrain and the number of guerrillas that remain at large.

Source: National Security Archive, Freedom of Information Request No.18972
Released January 2003


Document 21
September 9, 1974
Alleged Military Discontent with President Echeverría
U.S. Embassy in Mexico, secret cable

Embassy sources report increasing dissatisfaction with the leadership of President Echeverría within military circles. Although the Embassy predicts that this resentment will eventually die down, the recent campaign to free Senator Figueroa highlighted important disagreements between military and civilian authorities. Nevertheless, the Embassy concludes that beyond these recent grumblings "there is no serious evidence of serious discontent within Armed Forces."

Source: National Security Archive, Freedom of Information Request No.18971
Released November 2002


Document 22
September 10, 1974
Figueroa Kidnapping
U.S. Embassy in Mexico, confidential cable

Assessing the liberation of Figueroa, the Embassy expresses some doubt about the Mexican Government's official version of events which they label "almost too much of a happy ending." Noting that Echeverría Administration claims not to have negotiated with rebels, yet freed Figueroa without a single military casualty, the Embassy raises the possibility that a secret deal was reached to release the PRI Senator. Furthermore, the Embassy suggests that "there were more casualties on both sides than published."

Source: National Security Archive, Freedom of Information Request No.18971
Released June 2000


Document 23
September 10, 1974
Guerrillas Are Nuisance to Mexican Government
CIA National Intelligence Daily, top secret article

In a heavily excised version of this top secret article, the CIA argues that guerrillas "do not threaten the stability of the Echeverría Administration," but are capable of great acts of terror and violence.

Source: National Security Archive, Freedom of Information Request No.18961
Released June 2000


Document 24
September 10, 1974
Guerrillas Are Nuisance to Mexican Government
CIA National Intelligence Daily, top secret article

Under an NSA appeal, Document 23 was released without excisions. Previously deleted sections include details on the organization of Cabañas's group and the Mexican government's response to guerrilla activities. According to the CIA, the government has responded to political violence primarily with "intensive police work and, as in the Cabaña's case, the massive application of military manpower."

Source: National Security Archive, Freedom of Information Request No.18970
Released on appeal July 2001


Document 25
September 13, 1974
Figueroa Kidnapping Case
U.S. Embassy in Mexico, confidential cable

Following the first appearance of Ruben Figueroa since his "rescue," the Embassy continues to express doubt about the official explanation of his liberation. American officials are convinced that the official version of the events has been modified to maximize political benefit for both the government and the armed forces.

Source: National Security Archive, Freedom of Information Request No.18971
Released June 2000


Document 26
December 3, 1974
[Army Kills Lucio Cabañas]
CIA Directorate of Intelligence, secret message

In this brief message, the CIA informs of the killing of Lucio Cabañas in a clash with army troops, noting that "Cabañas' death will be a severe blow to his Party of the Poor." The CIA comments that Guerrero might nevertheless produce other guerrilla leaders to take up Cabañas' cause.

Source: National Security Archive, Freedom of Information Request No.18970
Released July 2001


Document 27
December 4, 1974
Death of Lucio Cabañas Barrientos
U.S. Embassy in Mexico, limited official use cable

In the wake of the death of Lucio Cabañas, the Embassy argues that the Mexican Government's political position has thus improved, at least in the Guerrero area. American officials now believe that rural guerrilla activities represent a minimal threat to political stability and that the "anonymous violence of urban terrorist groups is cause for greater concern than Cabañas ever was."

Source: National Security Archive, Freedom of Information Request No.18971
Released June 2000


Document 28
December 27, 1974
Trend of Terrorism in Mexico
U.S. Embassy in Mexico, confidential cable

After the newspaper El Universal reports Rubén Figueroa's admission that a ransom was in fact paid for his release, the Embassy concludes that events have proven the Government of Mexico is pragmatic and "willing to play as rough a game as the terrorists." Embassy officials conclude that a government "which refuses to be bound by constitutional limitations is in too strong a position for political kidnappings to succeed."

Source: National Security Archive, Freedom of Information Request No.18971
Released June 2000

 

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