A video captured during a Monday night protest in Mexico City appears to show a plainclothes police officer rescued after being pummeled by riot police, in the strongest evidence that state forces — not in uniform — are present when masked vandals attack government buildings after large peaceful marches.
In the clip published by the news site Animal Politico on Wednesday, officers clad in riot gear are seen beating a heavyset man dressed in jeans and a jacket after he throws a heavy object into a cloud of smoke. A nearby officer shouts, "El es mi compañero," or "He is my partner."
Two officers then help the man stand up and carry him away. The reporter recording the clip asks the man if he is a police officer.
The man says he is a "normal citizen," but when the reporter presses and asks why he was just referred to as a "partner" by the police, the man appears to snap. "Leave me alone, asshole!" he shouts.
A second video captured at the same demonstration by an outlet called Regeneración Radio shows a plainclothes man assisting riot police as they beat a young man. The video shows riot police corralling a small group of demonstrators or bystanders before the authorities violently gang up on them, beating them with their shields.
One officer can later be heard telling one victim, "Perdon por la putiza," which roughly translates to "Sorry we fucked you up."
The videos demonstrate that plainclothes Mexico City police officers have been participating in the protests that have gripped the country since the disappearance of 43 teachers college students in the state of Guerrero. But a spokesman at Mexico City's police department "emphatically" denied on Wednesday that plainclothes police were participating in the protests, according to Animal Politico.
Mexico City's police department has repeatedly turned down requests for interviews with VICE News.
Demonstrators have made police infiltration claims for weeks, citing the burning of the National Palace door on November 8 as a key likely example.
Although other voices in the protest movement have argued the violence is a sign of legitimate anger over the government's handling of the missing students case, some human-rights observers claim that the attacks are orchestrated by infiltrados — or plainclothes men brought in and paid by the government.
Meanwhile, police are also accused of detaining citizens at random during the protests.
DESCUBREN— Cronica Veracruz (@CronicaVera) November 17, 2014
Monday night's confrontations along Paseo de la Reforma in Mexico City happened during the latest in a string of protests held since the police attack against students from the Ayotzinapa Normal School, carried out on orders from the now-detained former mayor of Iguala, Guerrero, according to federal authorities.
At least 79 people have been arrested in connection with the missing students case. Many of them are municipal police officers of Iguala and nearby Cocula.
In a separate case, a student at the National Autonomous University of Mexico was filmed being snatched from a street last Friday afternoon near the campus in southern Mexico City, similarly by plainclothes government agents.
Sandino Bucio, 25, is seen screaming and struggling against officers who shove him into an unmarked vehicle and drive off. The incident resembled a kidnapping and came after other plainclothes agents opened fire on students after a confrontation on the campus in mid-November. Riot police later entered the campus, a gesture seen as a sensitive breach of the UNAM's autonomy from the government.
The video of Bucio's detention quickly went viral.
"During the drive, they told me that if I didn't cooperate, they would shoot me like those in Ayotzinapa," Bucio told the Mexico City public prosecutor, in a statement reviewed by VICE News. "[They said] that I was nothing for them, because they had already confronted the Zetas, narcos, and that they put the fear into the Guerreros Unidos."
"I think this is a terror mechanism that the federal government is using against the youth," Bucio said before news reporters after he was released later that day. "But there are thousands of us. They can't detain us all."
Follow Andrea Noel on Twitter @MetabolizedJunk.