Mexico to open nearly 100 years of police, intelligence archives
Mexico’s president on Friday announced plans over the next few months to open up Federal Police and intelligence agency archives dating back nearly a century.
Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador said at his daily press conference that all Mexicans must have access to those archives to ensure preservation of the nation’s historical memory.
“It’s the government’s responsibility to guarantee the right to information,” he added.
The leftist president said the move would bring an end to decades of “authoritarian” regimes that persecuted social activists and attacked those who thought differently.
“No archive will remain secret,” Lopez Obrador said.
The deputy government secretary (deputy interior minister), Zoe Robledo, said there are 7,314 boxes of files from the Confidential Department, Federal Security Directorate (DFS), the General Directorate of Political and Social Investigation (IPS) and the Investigation and National Security Directorate (DISEN) for the 1920-1985 period.
The archives from 1920 to 1948 will be fully opened, while sensitive information from 1949 to 1988 will remain classified since those archives date back 70 years or less.
In the case of archives that date from 1988 to the present, personal information will be kept classified to avoid infringing on personal rights.
Documents that might be used in judicial proceedings or whose release may jeopardize human rights protections also could be kept officially secret for between five and 12 years.
Robledo said previous disclosures of intelligence agencies’ archived material had been “simulated,” noting, for example, that the recently shuttered Center for Investigation and National Security (Cisen) itself managed the material that was released to the public and even provided its own versions of secret files.
The director-general of Mexico’s National Archives, Carlos Enrique Ruiz, said for his part that decades of information is very poorly organized because the police themselves were responsible for sorting the files.
He said it would take between one and three months to coordinate with different public institutions and gradually make the documents publicly available.
Ruiz said after an initial review that he believed the information is “intact.”
Lopez Obrador said after being elected last year that he would dissolve the Cisen, which he said had been used unlawfully to spy on him and other government opponents.
Shortly after his December 2018 inauguration, the president said that wiretapping was a thing of the past in Mexico.
“Regarding espionage, it’s all over. You can talk on the telephone in tranquility. There are no swallows on the wire anymore, at least as far as the federal government is concerned,” he said.
In mid-2017, The New York Times reported that spyware purchased by the Mexican government for use against criminals and terrorists had been turned on human rights activists, anti-corruption crusaders and journalists.
The subjects were targeted by Pegasus software, designed to infiltrate a person’s cell phone to gain access to everything on the device, The Times said.