This article first appeared in La Razón. It has been translated without permission for the Mexican Journalism Translation Project (MxJTP).
The Fausto Effect: Sidelining Veracruz Governor Javier Duarte
by Salvador Camarena
(Translated by Patrick Timmons)
Mexico’s President Enrique Peña Nieto has a special technique to sideline a state governor. The uselessness of Michoacán’s governor Fausto Vallejo was obvious and unsupportable (translator’s note: the President sent federal troops to Michoacán last week to try to calm an acute dispute between organized crime and the popular militia). To capitalise on the time the president has left in office, the tactic is to swap the issue of violence for the theme of progress.
Other state governors in Mexico – like Veracruz – should take note of what just happened in Michoacán. A new scandal is brewing in Veracruz that will likely hobble the state: the official version of events has cracked under pressure from the victim’s story.
The weekend discovery of two bodies in Veracruz has become immediately notorious because one of those found dead participated in a popular television show. That fact crucially explains why this crime, instead of getting lost in the sea of infinite crimes, has drawn national attention. The fleeting fame enjoyed by one of the victims isn’t the only thing that makes this case different. The father of singer Gibrán David Martiz Díaz made a timely and brave complaint that showed up the so-called state government of Javier Duarte: before the two youths turned up dead, Veracruz state police kidnapped them.
What defies logic is that exactly when these crimes were occurring – the kidnappings happened on Tuesday 7 January – one of the country’s best-informed officials went to Veracruz as the representative of Mexico’s federal government. In a fawning speech, Mexico’s Interior Minister eulogised Veracruz’s security.
At a police graduation on the night of 14 January, Miguel Ángel Osorio Chong emphasized, “today we already have results in Veracruz. There’s a show of force and of promise here. It’s always possible to make speeches but the important thing is the result. What’s said in a speech has to be backed up by facts.” Osorio went even further: “Today I want publicly to recognize the governor for his work. The people of Veracruz long for better security forces, and the governor is making good on his promise. Governor Javier Duarte, you have the federal government’s recognition. I want to end by saying that Veracruz’s accredited state police force provides a benchmark for the transformation of policing in the country. It has turned itself into a secure, trustworthy, efficient force.”
The police force once praised by the Interior Minister as a “benchmark” now finds itself mired in major scandal. And we mustn’t assume that this case in an isolated one. Not in Duarte´s Veracruz.
“Results are the most important thing,” said the man from Bucareli one night in Veracruz. (Translator’s note: Bucareli is the Mexico City street where the Interior Ministry is located.) If Javier Duarte re-reads the words of the country’s security chief, he would know that he’s in trouble. The news of the singer murdered in confusing circumstances hasn’t just shown Duarte up – his government had dismissed the complaints by the singer’s father but now the governor has to investigate his own police officers. The case has also attracted international attention, something President Enrique Peña Nieto did not want just as he arrives in Europe. The sidelining of Michoacán’s governor Fausto Vallejo offers a lesson to all. So let’s see who learns and who doesn’t.
Journalist Salvador Camarena contributes to Spanish newspaper El País and is a columnist for Mexican newspaper, La Razón. You can follow him on Twitter @salcamarena or email him at firstname.lastname@example.org. This column appeared in Spanish in La Razón on 22 January 2014 with the title, El Faustazo y Javier Duarte at http://www.razon.com.mx/spip.php?page=columnista&id_article=203219.
Translator Patrick Timmons is a human rights investigator and journalist. He edits mexicanjournalismtranslationproject.wordpress.com. You can follow him on Twitter @patricktimmons.