Luis Pomavilla, survivor of Mexico migrant massacre, Should Be Given a Humanitarian Visa to U.S.



In the original post on this, I speculated as to how the sole survivor, Luis Pomavilla, managed to escape. The integrity of the story has been bolstered a bit in the last couple of days, as the AP reports:

Honduran who survived the massacre of 72 migrants in Mexico helped untie the only other survivor — a wounded Ecuadorean — and the two fled together, an official said Friday.


72 migrants’ lives were snuffed out, in cold blood. As of now, it appears that those responsible are an enforcement arm of the Gulf Cartel, the Zetas.

If the Zetas are, indeed, the culpable, then the United States government is partially responsible for this horrific crime of humanity.

The United States, according to a Department of Defense Memo, has actively trained Mexican military personnel, including advanced training of the GAFES(Grupos Aeromoviles de Fuerzas Especiales). According to a DoD memo, dated June 2nd, 1998:

GAFEs are elite Mexican Army units that have received Special Forces and air assault training for use in counterdrug interdiction operations. DoD has since developed a highly successful training and equipment program for the development of an airmobile, rapid-reaction, counterdrug capability to support drug interdiction efforts in Mexico. It consists of: individual skills, small unit tactics, mission planning, military police training, and human rights training.

One could imagine the disaster that would ensue  if the above-mentioned individuals defected from the Mexican government. The U.S. government surely knew the risk involve in creating such well-trained, dangerous individuals  and subsequently placing them in an environment rife with the possibility of corruption.

The ZETA-GAFE Connection

According to George Grayson of the Foreign Policy Research Institute, in the late 1990’s the leader of the Gulf Syndicate, Osiel Cardenas Guillen, began to recruit members of the elite GAFE unit. Guillen was successful; he recruited Lieutenant Arturo Guzmán Decenas, who brought 30 other deserters with him.

And so the Zetas were born and “may be the most technologically advanced, sophisticated, and violent of these paramilitary enforcement groups”, according to a 2008 assessment by the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency.

The United States Government does not deny or affirm that the Zetas core founders were trained in the United States, but given that the United States admits to training the GAFEs, which the founders were former members of, and the various other corroborating reports of the training, it is likely that the U.S. trained them.

The Creation of A Massacre

The U.S. played a part in the creation of the Zetas by supplying its members with highly specialized skills in killing. The Zetas, in turn, have wreaked havoc among the Mexican people.

The massacre of the 72 migrants is likely the most gruesome act yet of the Zetas, if the circumstances of the killing are confirmed. Only one man, Luis Pomavilla, survived. He is still in danger.

Today, the AP reported that one of the first officials on the scene of the massacre, Roberto Suarez, along with the Municipal Police Coordinator, have disappeared. Also, two car bombs exploded in the region of the killing. If the investigator and police have already been successfully targeted by the Zetas, Pomavilla is likely in danger as well.

He was offered a humanitarian visa from Mexico, but his mother stated that he would like to go to the United States. And that is where he should go. The United States can make it happen, and should do so for two reasons: 1. this was a tragic casualty of the drug war that the United States has had a key role in waging, and thus we are responsible, in part, for the situation Pomavilla finds himself in; and 2. The U.S. must preserve the life of the only witness to the incident because it has an interest in finding out why the Zetas acted as they did.

Why Allow Him To Survive

One part of the story that adds up the least is how Luis Pomavilla survived; given the ruthlessness and effectiveness of the Zetas, it is unlikely they would be careless enough to have allowed just one man to survive. Perhaps they did screw up, or perhaps they allowed him to leave precisely because they wanted the Mexican authorities to know what had happened. If the latter is the case, the Zetas may be sending a message that they are escalating the already heated battle between the government and themselves.

It’s unclear, and it may remain unclear. The only person in the world that knows the exact circumstances of how and why he escaped is Pomavilla. If the latter remains in Mexico, he may never be able to fully tell his story.

For humanitarian or  the reasons simple self-interest, the United States should allow Luis Pomavilla to come to the United States.


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