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U.S. Government: remember the Aztecs

Ted Vincent Berkeley
Wednesday January 23, 2002



In the debate over the United States possibly deciding to officially engage in torture of prisoners there is much talk of how proper legal safeguards would be observed in any instance of our government practicing torture.  

Irregardless of legal procedures, however, nations and governments that engage in torture have historically been remembered for the pain and suffering they inflicted rather than their legal procedures. Do we want to end up with the reputation of 16th Century Spain, for example? During the conquest of Mexico a solemn torture was arranged for the last Aztec King, Cuauhtemoc. With officials and high ranking priests in attendance his feet were burned off. Then the torture stopped. The applicable law did not authorize burning off enough of him to kill him. 

Does the world remember the Spanish legal safeguards? No. It recalls the image of Spaniards eager to inflict pain in the ill fated hope that Cuauhtemoc would reveal the location of an alleged massive stash of Aztec gold.  


Ted Vincent  




p.s. Discussion of the burning of Cuauhtemoc and the legal safeguards that saved his life can be found in the section on the conquest in Vicente Riva Palacio, “Mexico a traves de los Siglos” various editions.