Category Archives: veracruz

Why They Kill You In Veracruz (IGNACIO CARVAJAL, Journalist, Veracruz, Mexico)

Why they Kill you in Veracruz

By Ignacio Carvajal (Journalist based in Veracruz, First Published 13 August 2015)

The issue in Veracruz is not whether they kill journalists, lawyers, politicians, teachers, students…
There’s just one issue: they kill you.
You can be murdered in Veracruz for two reasons: insecurity and impunity.
That’s why they kill a child in the north and bury her like an animal.
That’s why there have been more than 65 murders of women in 2015.
That’s why they kill journalists and former journalists.
That’s why they threaten human rights defenders.
That’s why they plunder the rivers for whatever they want.
That’s why there are kidnappings, even though punishment has increased and there are special anti-kidnapping units.
That’s why mayors can send hit men out to kill, then turn and run from law enforcement.
That’s why there are so many dead, floating in the Río Blanco.
That’s why there’s a solemn silence surrounding the violence in Veracruz and Boca del Río.
That’s why the University of Veracruz students are brutally beaten to an inch of their lives.
That’s why there are so many desperate mothers searching for the missing.
That’s why there are graves, the ones that have been found and the ones that haven’t been found.
For all these reasons, and more besides, that’s why Veracruz is drenched in tears and blood.

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The Abducted Journalist and the Mayor of Medellín, Veracruz By Ignacio Carvajal (SinEmbargo)

This article was first published on 9 January 2015. It has been translated without permission for the Mexican Journalism Translation Project.

The Abducted Journalist and the Mayor of Medellín, Veracruz
By Ignacio Carvajal (SinEmbargo)

(The first journalist abducted this year Moisés Sánchez of Veracruz, Mexico, was taken by armed men from his home in Medellín de Bravo on 2 January 2015. He has not yet been found. The Committee to Protect Journalists issued a press release summarizing the facts of Sánchez’s disappearance, demanding his return and the prosecution of his abductors. Veracruz is one of the most dangerous places in the Americas to practice journalism: CPJ reports that since 2011 three journalists have disappeared and the organization has documented the murders of nine other journalists.

Prior to Moisés Sanchez’s disappearance the mayor of Medellín had threatened the journalist. Days after Sánchez’s disappearance, the Associated Press reported that the entire municipal police force of Medellín de Bravo had been brought in for questioning by the Veracruz State Prosecutor with three of those officers detained.

Journalist Ignacio Carvajal reports from Veracruz on the story of the friendship and the fight between the journalist and the mayor of Medellín. – PT)

As a candidate he kissed children. He said hello to farmers and housewives. He walked the muddy streets of Medellín’s villages. He wore out his shoes and got thorns in his clothes in the rural areas. He promised that if he won he would jail his predecessors: Rubén Darío Lagunes and his putative political offspring Marcos Isleño Andrade, both of the Party of the Institutional Revolution (PRI). And he promised one more thing. Omar Cruz Reyes offered all the directorships and executive appointments to those born in the township: “Medellín for people from Medellín,” he used to say. But he did not fulfill that promise. Most of his cabinet was filled with people who lived in the Port of Veracruz and its bordering neighbor Boca del Río.

Omar Cruz is not a dyed-in-the wool PAN-ista. He became a candidate for the PAN thanks to efforts by his sister-in-law Hilda Nava Seseña and her uncle and aunt, Salustia Nava Seseña and Maurilio Fernández Ovando. The aunt is former president of the DIF [Mexico’s Children and Families Department] and the uncle is the former PANista Mayor of Medellín. Hilda was Maurilio Fernández’s personal assistant when he served as mayor.

At the same time, Omar Cruz Reyes created an organization bearing his initials (Organizando Contigo el Rumbo – literally translated as Organizing the Future With You) to work with the residents of the new subdivisions, like Arboleda San Ramón Puente Moreno and Casa Blanca. Both places bring together thousands of voters, mostly from Veracruz and Boca del Río).

Before the 2010 local elections, and to keep himself on the lips of voters, Cruz began a media campaign demonstrating against mayors Marco Isleño Andrade (2010 – 2013) and Rubén Darío Lagunes (2007 – 2010); primary school students made fun of Lagunes at school events because he dallied when he gave speeches.

There were at least three protests where Omar Cruz attacked Marcos Isleño Andrade for absent public works, missing support and neglect by the municipality. Invariably the journalist Moisés Sánchez attended these protests. He saw Omar Cruz – when he entered politics he was just 27 – as without bad political habits, without “a tail to be tugged”, well spoken, educated, from the working middle class and a rousing speaker against Marcos Isleño and in favor of citizens. The men clicked. And Moisés Sánchez began following him through the streets and writing stories about his promises and his projects. At last a young person from El Tejar – Medellín’s most important area – was willing to fight back against the corrupt politicians.

In the spirit of “Medellín for people from Medellín,” Omar Cruz offered Moisés Sánchez the position of press officer if he made it into the mayor’s office. That’s what Sanchez’s colleagues said; it was his big dream back in those days: to be his town’s press officer at city hall.

CRUZ TURNED HIS BACK ON THE PAN

He had just won office as mayor when Omar Cruz turned his back on the PAN and his campaign promises, remembers a city employee who preferred to remain anonymous. Photo: Special

He had just won office as mayor when Omar Cruz turned his back on the PAN and his campaign promises, remembers a city employee who preferred to remain anonymous. Photo: Special

He’d barely won but he started reneging on his promises. He gave the post promised to the journalist to a person from the port of Veracruz. The salaries weren’t what he had promised. Neither were the responsibilities, nor the secretaries and support staff. The important posts stayed in the hands of citizens from the conurbation of Veracruz-Boca del Río and did not go to the professional activists in Medellín’s Partido de Acción Nacional (National Action Party, or, PAN). This young businessman’s promises were soon spent and many sunk. “Many people support him but it’s out of necessity, because their salaries aren’t enough,” said one city employee who commented on condition of anonymity.

On the campaign trail Omar Cruz was a different person from the one he became when mayor elect. He stood on the same platform as Julen Rementería and Oscar Lara, respectively the former mayor of Veracruz and a former PAN-ista legislator. This couple are credited with bringing Omar Cruz over to Governor Javier Duarte, to the PRI and to “red PANism” – the term, panismo rojo is a colloquial expression for a bloc of PAN-istas who fight the government of Veracruz with one hand but with the other support every move by Javier Duarte as governor. (Translator’s note: the PAN’s color is blue.)

The gap between Omar and the PAN-istas in Veracruz’s state capital, Xalapa, and with the Yunes [a political family in Veracruz with links to both the PAN and the PRI] soon widened. On one day he was seen close to Raúl Zarrabal, PRI legislator for Boca del Río on Wednesday when visiting his constituents, the next day he was with the PRI-ista side of the Yunes and the following day he was with a representative of the government of Veracruz.

Omar Cruz’s ties to Governor Duarte grew stronger because of the issues surrounding the Metropolitan Water and Sanitation System (SAS), a para-municipal organization that regulates and administers sanitation and water supply in the Veracruz-Boca del Río-Medellín conurbation. Its management of millions of pesos of resources has always been opaque.

In the middle of 2014, the mayor of Boca del Río, Miguel Ángel Yunes Márquez threatened breaking away from the SAS so that his city could administer its own municipal infrastructure. Independently of this threat, Yunes Márquez had provided evidence of the overwhelming corruption in the SAS since Yolanda Carlín’s time as its director. There were dozens of Carlín-friendly journalists on her payroll, leaders of PRI neighborhoods, among others. But the real debacle began when José Ruiz Carmona arrived on the scene. Carmona was a PRI-ista who had held many public posts and had concluded an undergraduate degree in record time. Governor Javier Duarte modified the law so that Ruiz Carmona could manage the SAS.

Ruiz Carmona ended his time at the top of the organization with blackouts for failure to pay bills, protests over uniforms for workers and complaints made to its union by pilots, lovers, wives and family members belonging to both the PRI and the PAN, all of whom were on the payroll or well-connected. Javier Duarte ignored the financial shambles left by Ruiz Carmona and brought him into his cabinet, naming him undersecretary for Human Development in the Ministry of Social Development (SEDESOL).

In this context and so as to establish order in the SAS, Yunez Márquez was waiting for support from Omar Cruz against the only PRI-ista on the organization’s board, Ramón Poo, the mayor of the Port of Veracruz. Instead, he deserted Yunes Márquez to support the SAS plan to create another organization, passing over Ruiz Carmona and other former directors.

Omar Cruz attended every event in the Port of Veracruz and Boca del Río at which Duarte appeared, looking for a moment, even if just a hello, with the governor.

Around Medellín, Omar Cruz assumed a friendship with Javier Duarte. “We understand society’s problems because we are both young,” he was heard to say. Now the governor won’t even answer his phone calls.

Back in 1812, in this municipality, army officer and ex-President Nicolás Bravo spared the lives of 300 Spanish combatants who had fallen prisoner in the Wars for Independence. That’s why Medellín is called Medellín de Bravo. It doesn’t look like Omar Cruz is going to have luck similar to that of the Spanish.

In Veracruz the worst state to practice journalism in the Americas, a place toxic for reporters, Moisés Sanchez’s abduction is the first time a high profile culprit has been accused of a crime against freedom of expression. The PRI-ista state government of Veracruz sees an opportunity to strike a blow against the PAN in the conurbation of Veracruz-Boca del Río-Medellín as it prepares for the 2015 federal elections.

Today, up to press deadline, not one PAN-ista heavyweight has spoken out in support of Omar Cruz. Not at the state level and there’s not a peep from Julen Rementería or Oscar Lara. Medellín’s PAN-istas have withdrawn into themselves, mute, watching everything and letting the guillotine fall into the hands of the prosecutor, Luis Ángel Bravo, who is aiming for Omar Cruz’s neck.

THE ABARCA OF MEDELLÍN’S MANGO ORCHARDS

Since the disappearance of Moisés Sáncez, people in Veracruz have compared Mayor Omar Cruz and his wife, Maricela Nava to the Mayor of Iguala, Guerrero and his wife. Photo: Twitter @HaytodeMedellin

Since the disappearance of Moisés Sáncez, people in Veracruz have compared Mayor Omar Cruz and his wife, Maricela Nava to the Mayor of Iguala, Guerrero and his wife. Photo: Twitter @HaytodeMedellin

Since the disappearance of Moisés Sáncez, people in Veracruz have compared Mayor Omar Cruz and his wife, Maricela Nava to the Mayor of Iguala, Guerrero and his wife. Photo: Twitter @HaytodeMedellin

Another person passed over by Omar Cruz says, “The best jobs and salaries went to his friends. He sidelined the current PAN-istas and he gave them lesser jobs with low salaries. That was the constant complaint. In my case I left because of the pay. He promised me 12,000 pesos a month as a director (US$820) but I got half that. When I complained about the shortfall to Omar Cruz he wouldn’t talk to me. He sent me to his wife, Maricela Nava Seseña, the DIF president.”

Since what happened to Moisés Sánchez, both Maricela Nava and Omar Cruz have been compared to the Abarca, the mayor and his wife from the state of Guerrero [alleged to have masterminded the disappearances of the 43 student teachers of Ayotzinapa]. In this Veracruz municipality of major mango cultivation, Cruz and Nava ruled during the day and night, and people from the state have labeled them “the Abarca of the Mango Orchards.”

Inside the municipal building, in fact, they say that Omar Cruz does not decide anything without first going through Maricela Nava and her sister, Hilda Nava Seseña. Omar Cruz made his sister in law the municipal secretary.

The three live under the same roof in the Residencial Marino in Boca del Río where the cheapest houses sell for 1.5 million pesos (US$100,000) — and that’s the price of some of the more austere properties. The upscale residential neighborhood is five minutes from Plaza El Dorado, currently one of Veracruz’s most exclusive malls, frequented by those Veracruz magnates who arrive in their yachts – it has a marina – to buy cinema tickets for a matinée or to lunch in one of its restaurants.

The neighborhood is lined with beautiful trees. It is connected to the highway with panoramic views of the beaches in Vacas-Boca del Río. There are mansions, large salons for special events, estates with country houses and staff on hand for a relaxing weekend, all lining the backwater of the River Jamapa.

Omar, Maricela and Hilda ride around in this year’s trucks. The three use bodyguards and together they attend sessions with spiritualists.

“In the first few days after taking office, several spiritualist consultants – witches – arrived to cleanse the place,” the source says.

They focused their efforts on expelling the bad vibes from the mayor’s office, occupied for six years by PRI-istas. They placed quartz, burned incense, copal and every sort of mélange making it smell like a market.

Once the bad spirits had left, the mayor ordered a giant portrait hanged: underneath the image in large letters appears the name, “Javier Duarte de Ochoa, constitutional governor of Veracruz.”

In that office, on another wall, another black and white image bearing large letters: OMAR CRUZ, PRESIDENTE MUNICIPAL.

And decorating the surrounds in his office are numerous photos of Cruz along with his wife and sister in law.

In the mayor’s office, they say, Maricela Nava Seseña – known as the Queen of Medellín – became accustomed to issuing instructions and telling off campaign workers.

“Why are you asking for so much money from my husband? Are you really so great or are you his lover?” That’s what the first lady of Medellín said to staffers who complained about the low level of their salaries to Omar Cruz.

When dealing with labor issues, the mayor did not personally deal with them. He hung up the phone, referring them to his wife or his sister-in-law.

That’s what the former DIF director, Paula Aguilar Tlaseca experienced. She was one of the first to jump ship because of the poor treatment, low salary and little professional recognition from the Abarca of Medellín de Bravo.

When dealing with complaints in citizen-related issues, the protests did not mean much to them. “Protest all you like. I am the mayor,” Cruz replied when his staff advised him that social problems such as the new annual charge for public cleaning were turning into flash points of unrest.

Omar Cruz offered Moisés Sánchez the position of press officer if he won election as mayor. However, a little after the election the conflicts between began until, according to one witness, the mayor threatened the journalist. Photo: Special.

Omar Cruz offered Moisés Sánchez the position of press officer if he won election as mayor. However, a little after the election the conflicts between the men began until, according to one witness, the mayor threatened the journalist. Photo: Special.

In Moisés’ last protest outside the Medellín municipal building in the middle of last December he complained about this new municipal tax and the increase in common crime. It was a bitter encounter with Omar Cruz. A strange thing, too, since the mayor never confronted his critics.

“Why are you protecting criminals?” Moisés dared to ask Omar. It has been forty-eight hours since the owner of a convenience store had been murdered, his truck taken.

“I am not protecting them. I am fighting them. I asked for help from the Mando Único [the unified state command of public safety agencies] and the Marines,” Omar Cruz replied. But Moisés was not satisfied and continued in a loud voice with his criticism until one of Cruz’s staff, Juanita León slapped Moisés Sanchez several times on the cheeks.

Omar Cruz did not do anything else. But he left without offering Moisés an apology and failing to scold his employee who had hit him. Instead, a friend of Moisés told his family that the mayor threatened the journalist…

“Take care. Omar says that he wants to frighten you.”

Ignacio Carvajal is a prize-winning journalist working in Veracruz. Follow him @nachopallaypaca on Twitter. In Latin America Carvajal is recognized as a skilled practitioner of the crónica, a form of reporting news by telling a story. Check out hisRanch of Horror” in translation for the Mexican Journalism Translation Project. This article was first published under the title, “Aliado de Duarte, cliente de “brujos”, el Alcalde del PAN puso la mira en periodista,” available at: http://www.sinembargo.mx/09-01-2015/1212468.

Translator Patrick Timmons is a human rights investigator and journalist. He edits the Mexican Journalism Translation Project (MxJTP), a quality selection of Spanish-language journalism about Latin America rendered into English. Follow him on Twitter @patricktimmons. The MxJTP has a Facebook page: like it, here.

 

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The Photojournalist who Disappeared: Manuel Gabriel Fonseca Hernández, ´Cuco´(Galia García Palafox, NUESTRA APARENTE RENDICIÓN)

This article appeared originally in the book, Tú y yo coincídimos en la noche terrible, a collection of essays about murdered or disappeared Mexican journalists, by Lolita Bosch and Alejandro Vélez Salas, published by Nuestra Aparente Rendición in 2012. It has been translated without permission for the Mexican Journalism Translation Project (MxJTP).

The Photojournalist who Disappeared: Manuel Gabriel Fonseca Hernández, ‘Cuco’
By Galia García Palafox (Nuestra Aparente Rendición)

Missing Since September 2011: Mexican Photojournalist Manuel Gabriel Fonseca

Missing Since September 2011: Mexican Photojournalist Manuel Gabriel Fonseca

Cuco is the story about a boy who wanted to be a journalist.

He hadn’t finished secondary school but Manuel Gabriel needed to work to take money home. He got a job cleaning the house of Araceli Shimabuko, a journalist in his town.

Araceli stopped him from cleaning and set him to hand out the magazine she edited, Paisajes. He took a taxi every day from his neighborhood to the center of town. While she reported he distributed the magazine to government offices. It was the closest he had been to these two worlds: inside and behind the scenes at the town hall, a view from afar of its mayor, some press conference or other when he went with Araceli. Her secretary, that’s what some officials and journalists called him.

After work they ate something or met with other reporters. Manuel Gabriel was fascinated. He became friends with journalists in Acayucan, a town of 83,000 residents in the south of the state of Veracruz. He didn’t skip the opportunity of going with somebody covering an accident, a fire or a fight. Manuel Gabriel knew immediately what the news world wanted, especially when it came to the police blotter.

He started helping journalist friends collect information, making visits to the public prosecutor, taking photos. One day he came home with a newspaper in his hands. His parents and his brother, Ricardo, could hardly believe it: at home Manuel Gabriel was known as José and in the news world somebody nicknamed him ‘Cuco,’ and he had published a story. He was a sixteen-year old reporter.

From that moment on his parents asked him to take care with what he published. He mustn’t get himself in trouble.

Somehow he got hold of an old, roll camera. He took photos and he took the roll to be developed. From a cybercafé he sent photos and news to magazines where he had begun to work.

One day he went to El Diario of Acayucan. He asked to speak with its owner. He didn’t want to talk with anybody else. Marcos Fonrouge, chief editor, dealt with him. He had heard talk about him. He had read him. Cuco wanted work and there was a position open for a reporter covering the crime beat. The job was his.

Fights between drunkards, men who beat people, car crashes. Cuco covered those stories. “They all made him proud,” Fonrouge says. Night and day he looked for an exclusive. He took it for granted he would get it. “Hey, I have the exclusive,” that’s what he said to reporter colleagues when he met them. He spent nights in police stations or in the public prosecutor’s office to get the scoop. He got home early in the morning.

Don Juan, his father, remembers that some days he only used to come home to change clothes after a visit to the morgue, to get rid of the smell of a body. Other times they didn’t used to see him at home until dawn. “He used to get home when we were all asleep, at one a.m., two in the morning. He used to bring us memelas [akin to a tostada (hard tortilla) with savory toppings] and empanadas and he got us all up to eat,” says Ricardo, his little brother. “He used to tell us that he had seen dead people or accidents.” He used to tell, he tells. He used to arrive, he arrives. He was, he is. Everybody who talks about Cuco changes verb tenses. Not Cuco used to be, no: Cuco is.

Cuco liked the dead. On one occasion his boss sent him to cover a social meeting of lawyers. Cuco returned with photos so bad that Fonrouge knew that it was his way of telling him that he did not want to be sent to cover events that weren’t part of the crime beat.

After a spell at El Diario of Acayucan, Cuco went to El Mañanero, a new daily with five reporters and a circulation of three thousand issues. He graduated from film to a digital camera. He used to show it off to people who wanted to see. And he showed it off to those who did not want to see it, too.

Saturday 17 September 2011 was his day off. In the morning he played cards with his brother. Five peso hands. He didn’t have any luck at the cards. He lost.

Ricardo went to play football. Cuco went to El Mañanero’s offices to collect his pay. He spoke with his boss for a few minutes. He told him he was going to eat some tamales nearby. Cuco was always ready to party.

That night he didn’t return home to sleep. His father went to look for him. He did not find him. In the newspaper they were waiting for his Sunday stories. They never arrived. His phone went straight to voicemail.

On Monday his father went to ask at the newspaper. The journalists had begun to mobilize. A group went to look for him in a neighboring town where a party was rumored to have taken place. There was no sign of Cuco. Another group met in an ice cream parlor to decide what to do. One of them called a deputy prosecutor and they filed a complaint. They started to investigate: did anybody see him in the park with a friend on Saturday night? Another said that he had been at the morgue. Did a witness see him get into a car with a sandwich seller? It wasn’t a sandwich seller but the hotdog seller. Rumors and rumors. Criminal investigations. More rumors. Nothing convincing.

El Mañanero has a policy of not publishing news about criminal groups who might endanger its workers. Cuco had not published anything compromising. Maybe he saw something he shouldn’t have seen. Maybe they weren’t going for him. Maybe he opened his mouth too much. Maybe he fell in with bad company. More rumors.

 

Journalist Galia García Palafox is editor in chief at Milenio Digital. She has reported for news outlets in the United States and Mexico and graduated with a Master’s from the Columbia School of Journalism. This article was first published under the title, “Manuel Gabriel Fonseca Hernández, ‘Cuco’,” and is available at: http://nuestraaparenterendicion.com/tuyyocoincidimosenlanocheterrible/index.php?option=com_k2&view=item&id=84:manuel-gabriel-fonseca-hernandez#.VANQzWSwLBw.

Translator Patrick Timmons is a human rights investigator and journalist. He edits the Mexican Journalism Translation Project (MxJTP), a quality selection of Spanish-language journalism about Latin America rendered into English. Follow him on Twitter @patricktimmons. The MxJTP has a Facebook page: like it, here.

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The Ranch of Horror (Ignacio Carvajal, Blog.Expediente.Mx)

This crónica was first published on Blog.Expediente.Mx on 19 June 2014 and has been translated without permission by the Mexican Journalism Translation Project (MxJTP).

The Keys of the Murdered and the Missing of El Diamante, Tres Valles, Veracruz. (Photo Credit: Ignacio Carvajal, Blog.expediente.mx)

The Keys of the Murdered and the Missing of El Diamante, Tres Valles, Veracruz. (Photo Credit: Ignacio Carvajal, Blog.expediente.mx)

The Ranch of Horror
By Ignacio Carvajal (Blog.Expediente.Mx)

Tres Valles, Veracruz.- “Can you take us to the graves at El Diamante, please?” somebody asks an official from Tres Valles township. Until that question, the bureaucrat had been welcoming, good-humored even; but on hearing where they wanted to go, his face reddened. He looked around from place to place. His chin trembled. He did go there, but reluctantly and at the first opportunity he fled – full throttle, ignoring speed bumps, puddles, and potholes.

The entrance to El Diamante is the opening to Eden. At the end of the meadow on this ranch, once the property of the late Fernando Cano Cano, first mayor of Tres Valles, trees are laden with fruit, a fish farm to one side. Pastures spring up at the corners to the property. A river runs through it.

It’s a golden dream for any farmer. But for the thirty-one people who were murdered and buried here, it’s where they went from paradise to hell.

After three months, last Monday night Navy personnel finally acknowledged it as a burial site. Nobody could have imagined that, under leafy trees on one side of a ravine hid horror: death, suffering, and shame half-covered by soil.

A smell hovers over the site. Green flies swarm around rotting flesh, crawling with maggots. There are thirteen holes. From each one they have exhumed two or three people. The investigators left a short time ago. They worked with nothing. Help came from soldiers stationed in Xalapa and Veracruz.

One person who was there, and whose identity is being protected, says that the investigating agents couldn’t cope. After hours of digging and removing rotten flesh, exhaustion overwhelmed them.  Officers from the Veracruz Investigations Division (AVI) had to lend a hand, putting their firearms to one side to pull on rope to extract the dead. “The exhumed bodies were tied up. It was complicated because they didn’t have hands or feet. Sometimes we had to help.”

“We tired from pulling up so many bodies. There was this moment when we had to shovel and blood and rotting stuff came out,” the official said.

 

OFFERINGS TO THE SKINNY WOMAN

Dirty dishes. Leftover food. Smelly mats. Damp towels. Pirated CDs. Dirty clothes scattered all over. Medicine. A shrine to the Santa Muerte. Black candles. The Seven Powers of Santería.  A toilet overflowing with crap.

It’s the inside of the house located on the rise of the El Diamante ranch. In this place, about two kilometers from the police station and town hall of Tres Valles, twenty-four men and seven women were murdered. How was it possible to massacre so many people so near to the police station?

Until a few days ago the inhabitants were a group of hitmen. They got into the ranch through a breach that runs from the city, along railway tracks, through groves of trees and a red clay trail.

Inside the building, what causes most fear is the image of the Santa Muerte.  It’s clearly a copy of Michelangelo’s Pietà, with Christ lying at the feet of the skinny woman.

The thirty-centimeter image is mounted on a box with a twenty-liter capacity. Around it are more than a dozen candles of the Seven Powers of Santería: Obatalá, Elegguá, Oggún, Orunlá, Yemayá, and Ochún.

More candles are placed inside the dwelling. They could be more than forty, or thirty-one. Perhaps the same number of victims buried in the clandestine cemetery.

Still inside, one finds chile, tomatoes, a frying pan filled with potatoes and sausage and on a chair, a saucepan filled with potatoes. They were about to eat. At present, the scant unofficial information provided by military sources doesn’t mention detainees, pointing to a timely escape.

The mats – from the National System for Overall Family Development (DIF) – stand out, strewn all over. It’s a mess left behind by officials who didn’t pay attention to a single detail: dozens of keys left behind beside the well – keys to houses, cars, drawers, and boxes. Keys that once belonged to the people dragged here and murdered.

 

POSSESSED

El Diamante is a watchtower: from its rise there’s a view of Tres Valles, and on the other side a meadow sown with fine, nourishing pasture. A sonorous ravine nearby snakes below the ranch, shaded by fruit trees.

Police reports call it an “abandoned ranch.” But its infrastructure looks in good shape.

In the town they confirm that it belonged to the late Fernando Cano Cano, a member of the Party of Institutional Revolution (PRI) and the first mayor of Tres Valles. Nobody can say how a group of murderers and death fanatics took over the ranch.

The difference between the last tenants and the owners is clear: they were very religious. In a corner, there’s a chapel to the Virgin of Juquila.

The Chapel to the Virgin of Juquila at El Diamante (Photo Credit: Ignacio Carvajal, Blog.expediente.mx)

The Chapel to the Virgin of Juquila at El Diamante (Photo Credit: Ignacio Carvajal, Blog.expediente.mx)

Inside the three-by-three chapel, with an altar in the middle, and cubbyholes in its walls, are mats, used condoms, excrement. There are signs of frantic sex, wild nights, alcohol, torture, and decapitation.

The thugs used this place for everything but praying to Christ’s mother. Her images are no longer in the cubbyholes: they have been destroyed.

In the chapel, they didn’t leave flowers or candles to the Virgin. But they left bottles of whisky and a bag of bread rolls to Death. An offering.

 

HOPE LIVES ON

The smell of death rattles the nerves of all of Cosamaloapan and its neighboring villages. “I had to wash my clothes again because I’d hung them out to dry the day the bodies arrived. But the smell penetrated everything and it stinks,” relates one of the people who lives by the morgue here in Cosamaloapan.

The smell lingers in the air and pervades all of Cosamaloapan, penetrates the poorest neighborhoods, the low-income areas where there are the most cases of missing people.

“We came here from Xalapa [the state capital, 300 kilometers away], because we knew there were a bunch of dead people here and in our neighborhood four boys are missing. A truck blocked their path and took them,” says a woman, who along with the others, seems not to be made sick by the smell or the heat.

They are wives, mothers, aunts, grandparents or partners of disappeared people. For them, Cosamaloapan and the neighboring towns amount to a badly healed wound bursting with pus. They are desperate.

“Sometimes I just want to find her and be done with it. Tell me if she’s dead or whatever,” says one woman, whose daughter, Wendy Cruz, has been missing since May.

Her granddaughter, Wendy’s daughter, holds a photo of her mother: dressed in a red blouse and tight white pants. Just beside the Papaloapan River. The last time they saw her she was going to Alvarado to eat with a friend.

Wendy Cruz. Last Seen went she went to Alvarado for a meal with a friend. (Photo Credit: Ignacio Carvajal, Blog.expediente.mx)

Wendy Cruz. Last Seen when she went to Alvarado for a meal with a friend. (Photo Credit: Ignacio Carvajal, Blog.expediente.mx)

Another family of women and children seeks shade under a fig tree. The oldest carries a photo of her sixteen-year old grandson who went to a party in Tuxtepec two weeks ago and never returned.

“They treated us very badly inside. We aren’t from here. We came from Oaxaca. Inside the morgue they told us we should deal with things in Oaxaca. They say there aren’t any bodies here. That they took them all to Xalapa,” says one of the women.

At some moment in the afternoon they could not wait any longer. They were huddled around the entryway where at least two stood waiting. They approached the slabs. They raised the sheet from one corpse and confirmed that it wasn’t their relative. They entered with fortitude. They left alone.

 

JOINED TOGETHER IN PAIN

On the Cosamaloapan-Acayucan highway, two hundred kilometers from the graves, a man enjoys some pineapple juice, happily looking at the cargo on his truck: twenty coffins.

The man has been informed about the region’s toughest news. “Clandestine Graves at El Diamante in Tres Valles.” Rather than being afraid, the funeral director in Cuenca del Papaloapan seems energized. He begins making calls to all his contacts, mostly those at the morgue, whom he rewards if they pass on the news to him first. He knows that the cargo he’s bringing from the Federal District won’t be of any use if he doesn’t hurry up and do the paperwork at Cosamaloapan’s deputy prosecutor’s office. “I don’t think they are going to be enough. We are going to have to ask for more,” said the driver.

Journalist Ignacio Carvajal reports from Veracruz. Follow him @nachopallaypaca on Twitter. This article was first published under the title, “El rancho del horror,” at blog.expediente.mx available at: http://blog.expediente.mx/nota.php?nId=6974#.U7NQUI1dVjY.

 

Translator Patrick Timmons is a human rights investigator and journalist. He edits the Mexican Journalism Translation Project (MxJTP), a quality selection of Spanish-language journalism about Latin America rendered into English. Follow him on Twitter @patricktimmons. The MxJTP has a FaceBook page: like it, here.

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Criminalizing Childbirth in Mexico: The indigenous woman prisoner who wants to remember what the weather is like in the free world By Rodrigo Soberanes (TODOS LOS CAMINOS)

This blog post was first published on Todos Los Caminos on 27 April 2014. It has been translated without permission by the Mexican Journalism Translation Project.

Criminalizing Childbirth in Mexico: The indigenous woman prisoner who wants to remember what the weather is like in the free world
By Rodrigo Soberanes (TODOS LOS CAMINOS)

A twenty-three year old indigenous woman gave birth alone, in the half-light. Nobody even knew she was even pregnant. Her mother-in-law heard the child’s cry from the bedroom. And then the baby died.

Eight years after that sad dawn, Reyna asks from her cell what the weather is like outside the walls of Veracruz’s Zongolica Prison. “Is it hot outside?” and then there’s a brief silence, since nobody understands the logic of her question.

The thermometer crests 30 degrees, inside and out. The temperature doesn’t change behind bars, just the rest of the reality. After years of being locked up, only Reyna knows how her life has changed.

“I hope I can go soon,” the now 31-year-old woman says.

Reyna Panzo was accused of aggravated homicide and sentenced to 35 years in prison. An appeals court reduced her sentence to 20 years.

The events occurred in the community of Tzacuala in Tehuipango, one of the country’s poorest townships. Reyna’s husband had migrated to the US, fleeing from the misery in this part of Veracruz.

According to the case file, Reyna’s mother-in-law realized the baby had died and told the young woman’s parents who took her to the township’s leader. He then took her to the Public Prosecutor.

The woman’s lawyer asserts that, for obvious reasons, she did not want her in-laws to know she was pregnant. But she also says that how she became pregnant has never been documented.

Reyna was born and grew up in a region where women’s rights are never fully applied, and there’s systematic violation of women’s access to justice.

Adriana Fuentes Manzo, lawyer to the NGO Equifonia explains things in the following way:

Her mother in law assumed the baby was the result of an infidelity and that Reyna killed it. That’s what she told her parents. They assumed the same thing and they took her to a public official.

That official took on judicial functions and took Reyna – who does not speak Spanish – to the Public Prosecutor. She was never given a translator. In her preliminary statement, she was unable to provide a clear version of what had happened.

“Nobody cared about her health. No value was placed on presuming her innocent. Did they giver her due process? There’s no explanation of the circumstances. There are many doubts. Far from whether they did this or didn’t do that, nobody guaranteed her rights. From the moment she went before officials, they made value judgements. She had no right to the presumption of innocence,” the lawyer told this reporter.

Brain surgery on the baby indicated the cause of death was a traumatic head injury. It also states that the recently born baby had a wound on its face caused by scissors.

Equifonia’s laywer – who works to protect women’s rights – believes that if Reyna had wanted to lose her baby, she wouldn’t have waited for nine months.

Having just taken on Reyna’s legal defense, this non-governmental organization will try to prove that the Public Prosecutor did not provide the accused woman with a translator and deprived her of her right to be presumed innocent.

They never placed any weight behind the idea that the indigenous woman had an accident and that the then twenty-three year old was presumed guilty by the judicial system. “The main point is trying to find out if her rights to due process were guaranteed,” Adriana Manzo explains.

Reyna has two other children. One was born before she was locked up and another who is five years old who she gave birth to inside prison.

Sat on a plastic seat beside her bed, the woman has been turned upside down by the judicial system that has imprisoned her. She can’t understand why she has been locked up for eight years. She wants to leave.

“It’d be better if I could I leave already,” she says in a shaky voice. A guard watches her as she talks with Equifonia’s legal team.

Journalist Rodrigo Soberanes is based in Mexico. Follow him on Twitter @rodsantin. This article first appeared on his blog, Todos Los Caminos, under the title, “La mujer indígena que quiere recordar cómo es el clima fuera de la cárcel,” available at: http://todosloscaminospa.blogspot.mx/2014/04/la-mujer-indigena-que-quiere-recordar.html.

Translator Patrick Timmons is a human rights investigator and journalist based in the Americas. He edits the Mexican Journalism Translation Project (MxJTP)Follow him on Twitter@patricktimmons.

 

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Migration through Mexico: Uncertain whereabouts of more than 300 migrants detained and beaten by Mexico’s authorities (Desinformemonos)

This article was published on 1 May 2014 by Desinformemonos. It has been translated without permission for the Mexican Journalism Translation Project.

Translator’s note: Since the translation and publication of this story, La Jornada reports that 291 Central American migrants are being detained in Villahermosa, Tabasco at the city’s INM facilities. According to the news report, the consults of Central American countries have been informed.

But Rubén Figueroa, a migrant rights defender, posted on Facebook that a new operation by the INM is underway in Palenque, Chiapas. For more details, please see the MxJTP translation of a Blanche Petrich story for La Jornada available via this link. PT

Uncertain whereabouts of more than 300 migrants detained and beaten by Mexico’s authorities
by Desinformemonos

–        The Central Americans may be in detention in Acayucan, Veracruz

–        Fray Tomás González, Fray Aurelio Tadeo, and Rubén Figueroa from The 72 Migrant Shleter were physically assaulted

Mexico. — The whereabouts remain “uncertain” of the more than 300 migrants arrested on 30 April in an “impressive” operation mounted by Mexico’s Migration Institute (INM), the Federal Police (PF) and Tabasco State Police according to Marta Sáncehz of the Mesoamerican Migrants’ Movement (MMM). “We think that they might have them in the Acayucán, Veracruz detention center but there are stories that some are in jails.” The MMM believes this operation is the Mexican government’s reponse to the growing social protest demanding their right to free movement. Just a few days ago, the government was required to issue documents to the members of the migrants’ viacrucis so that police officers do not disrupt their journey to the U.S. border.

The organization has released information that some of the Central Americans who escaped from the roundup are hiding in the mountains and that some children are alone. Fray Tomás González, Fray Aurelio Tadeo y Ruben Figueroa, all from The 72 migrant shelter in Tenosique, Tabasco were assaulted and beated by police officers as they tried to bring water and food to the detainees.

The group of migrants that left The 72 decided yesterday to begin their journey on foot because it is now impossible to ride the train known as La Bestia [from Tenosique — an MxJTP reader notes that the Bestia line that starts in Arriaga, Chiapas runs up to Ixtepec and then to the junction at Medias Aguas, near Acayucan, Veracruz is very much in operation with train cart tops overflowing with Central American Migrants]. “In his desire to shift responsibility, the Governor of Veracruz’s complaint of 1 April 2014 against the Kansas City Southern and Ferrosur” railroads makes riding the train impossible, reported the MMM’s press release. After walking about 40 kms, the Central Americans were apprehended and beaten in Emiliano Zapata, Tabasco. Members of The 72 followed the convoy to insure respect for the migrants’ rights and they were assaulted by police.

The authorities penned in the migrants in Chacamax, Tabasco whereafter they were placed on buses for an unknown destination. “That’s where we had the last ´phone contact with them,” Marta Sánchez says. At the writing of this story, the migrants’ whereabouts remains unknown. A report this morning on Noticias MVS with Carmen Aristegui stated that the operation has been ordered by the INM’s director, Ardelio Vargas Fosado – he has a reputation for ordering Federal Preventative Police operations against the farmers of San Salvador Atenco and the Popular Assembly of the People’s of Oaxaca (APPO) as well as several instances of repression of social movements when he was Puebla’s Public Security Chief. Migrants have repeatedly requested his resignation since he believes migrations is a “public safety” issue.

Desinformemonos is a Mexican alternative news website. This article first appeared under the title, “Incierto, el paradero de más de 300 migrantes detenidos y golpeados por autoridades en México.”

Translator Patrick Timmons is a human rights investigator and journalist. He edits the Mexican Journalism Translation Project (MxJTP), a quality selection of Spanish-language journalism about Latin America rendered into English. Follow him on Twitter @patricktimmons.

 

 

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Gregorio: Murdered for Reporting (La Misión de Observación de periodistas y organizaciones a Veracruz por el asesinato del reportero Gregorio Jiménez de la Cruz)

The Misión de Observación into Gregorio Jiménez’s kidnaping and murder released an executive summary and its report in Mexico City on 19 March 2014. This executive summary has been translated without permission for the Mexican Journalism Translation Project (MxJTP).

Gregorio: Murdered for Reporting

Wednesday 19 March 2014
Mexico City

On 15, 16, and 17 February a group of 16 journalists along with several members of four organizations in defense of freedom of expression, formed an Observation Mission with the aim of investigating the kidnap and murder of reporter Gregorio Jiménez de la Cruz.

We traveled to Coatzacoalcos and Xalapa and we interviewed more than 60 communicators: reporters, editors, directors of media outlets; Gregorio’s family and friends, as well as state and federal officials. We had access to the file that the Veracruz State Attorney General’s office has built and we reviewed the stories published by Gregorio in the six months before his murder. We visited the residence where the kidnap occurred and the place where, a week later, the journalist’s body was found.

Today we present this report as the result of a team effort. We analyze the possible causes behind the crimes against Gregorio, the context in which he worked, and the responses of authorities.

The kidnap and murder of journalist Gregorio Jiménez cannot be understood without taking into consideration the alarming, violent context of Veracruz, especially in the state’s south. The government’s inaction concerning security and justice has clear and direct repercussions in the daily work of communicators. These factors explain the list of murdered journalists, disappearances, displacement, and the constant violations of freedom of expression in the state.

For those reasons the present report includes a detailed analysis of the practice of journalism in Veracruz: testimonies and facts that detail precarious and risky working conditions for communicators.

The official investigation demonstrates that there is sufficient proof in Gregorio Jiménez’s case file that he was kidnaped and murdered because of his journalism. However, public prosecutors have avoided recognizing the crimes as a direct attack on freedom of expression by an organized crime group that operates in the southern part of Veracruz.

The State Attorney General has focussed only on one line of inquiry, even though clear proof exists for at least two lines of inquiry that could reveal a criminal structure.

Neither the Public Prosecutor nor the Federal Prosecutor’s Office for Crimes against Freedom of Expression (FEADLE) have investigated and nor have they deepened the inquiry into Gregorio’s journalism. Neither one of the journalist’s tools he used for work – not his computer, nor his camera – and which his kidnappers tried to take with them were submitted to review.

The statements, evidence, and procedures running throughout Gregorio’s case file show the deficiencies and inconsistencies on the part of officials who participated in the emergency response to the kidnaping. For example: the case file does not record the deployment of police officers to locate the reporter. There is no official communication if that action occurred or how it was executed: when it began, how many officers participated, how they were organized, where they looked and how they looked, which techniques they used, and how long the search operation lasted. One of the essential questions is whether or not the security forces’ response was actually timely and effective.

We also found faults in favour of the six people who currently stand accused of the crimes against the journalists. For example, investigators lacked warrants, did not provide evidence and investigative orders, including corroboration of the facts.

The case file does not explain how authorities found out who was responsible, how they located them, or how they discovered the safe house where Gregorio was detained and the location of his clandestine grave.

The statements of all of those currently detained only provide basic information about the facts, and officials did not question, deepen, verify, or provide further records about the events.

The accusations against those detained find their principal support in the confession of José Luis Márquez Hernández, who took responsibility for executing the crimes, and led the cell that kidnapped and murdered Gregorio. The State Prosecutor is responsible for strengthening this evidence but as occurred in the case of the murder of journalist Regina Martínez has acted to the contrary and so those detained could be freed.

Several of those detained state that they were tortured to incriminate themselves. In the case file, medical certificates do not exist that document their physical and mental state before and after making a statement. Similarly, it is noteworthy that days after the formal order for their imprisonment, people from Las Choapas complained that officers from the Agencia Veracruzana de Investigaciones (AVI) “detained” nine residents from the township as they looked for those responsible for the journalist’s kidnaping. After 24 days, seven people reappeared who had been illegally taken. A 14-year old minor and youth Natividad Cacho Gómez are still missing. It is absolutely necessary that the State Prosecutor clarify these facts and indicate who is responsible.

The State Prosecutor, at least in official speeches, maintains that the investigations into Gregorio’s murder will continue, but there has been no progress. Given that it is evident that the investigation still remains to be deepened, the case cannot and must not be considered closed.

Also responsible for investigating the case are the Subprocuraduría Especializada en Investigación de Delincuencia Organizada (SIEDO – the Organized Crime Prosecutor) and the Fiscalía Especial de Atención a Delitos cometidos Contra la Libertad de Expresión (FEADLE – the Federal Prosecutor for Crimes against Freedom of Expression). Yet, in spite of their specialized foci, neither have registered advances in the case.

Recommendations

From the analysis carried out by the Observation Mission in the five chapters of this report, can be drawn the following recommendations to federal and local authorities, and to owners and editors of media outlets:

1. The Veracruz State Prosecutor must recognize that the murder of Gregorio Jiménez can be strongly linked to his work as a journalist.

2. The State Prosecutor must correct the deficiencies identified in this report. It must clarify, state, and thoroughly develop an investigative inquiry into Gregorio Jiménez de la Cruz’s journalism.

3. We repeat our request that the Veracruz Prosecutor permit us access to other case files about murders and disappearances of other journalists in the state.

4. We demand that the Fiscalía Especial de Atención a Delitos cometidos Contra la Libertad de Expresión (FEADLE), use all of its juridical capacities to take over the investigation, bringing it to conclusion and presenting the case to a federal judge, so that it might process and punish those responsible.

5. The FEADLE must immediately publish a detailed report explaining why it did not take the case of reporter Gregorio Jiménez.

6. We demand that under national laws and international treaties, Gregorio Jiménez’s family must be provided with all security measures given that they are both witnesses to and victims of a crime.

7. We request the state government establishes a permanent fund for murdered and disappeared journalists from the state and that it execute this under the supervision of civil society and journalist organizations.

8. The Executive, Legislative, and Judicial Powers in the state of Veracruz must publicly acknowledge the negative situation that confronts journalists and communications outlets in the state.

9. A law to protect the right to practice journalism must be urgently passed. It must restructure the Veracruz State Comisión de Atención y Protección a Periodistas (CEAPP) in such a way that this agency has the capacity to be a protective mechanism.

10. The State Comisión de Atención y Protección a Periodistas (CEAPP) must, furthermore, provide a detailed report about how it has used its budget resources and, concretely in Gregorio’s case, it must present a report about how it acted.

11. The State Penal Code must define as serious crimes actions that obstruct, impede, or try to stop journalists, media outlets’ offices, and other people from exercising their free speech and information rights.

12. There must be a public policy to allow the State Comptroller to review in an autonomous way the tasks discharged by the State Prosecutor in the investigations committed against journalists, and sanction for omission or negligence those who have not fulfilled their functions.

13. The Veracruz State Fiscalía de Atención a Periodistas y Delitos Electorales must deliver a wide-ranging and detailed report into the progress of the investigations in its charge.

14. Given the elevated figures of threats against journalists in Veracruz, the creation of an autonomous prosecutor’s offices is necessary.

15. A law must be passed that regulates official publicity in the State of Veracruz.

16. To news businesses in the State of Veracruz: we consider it urgent that you comply with the terms of the Ley Federal de Trabajo (The Federal Work Law). We are convinced that the security of journalists begins when they receive fair treatment as professionals and thus guarantee their full labour rights. We recommend creating and promoting security protocols; as well providing training to newspaper sellers so that they distribute the news professionally and do not increase the risk for working journalists.

17. To the businesses Notisur and Liberal del Sur, the Missions asks for the creation of a support fund for the family of its worker, Gregorio Jiménez de la Cruz.

This Mission’s members are convinced that collaborative initiatives such as this one may provide a mechanism to help curb censorship and impunity for the lack of results in the investigations that must be carried out by the authorities.

This must be an invitation to go further in the defense of freedom of expression and against impunity that surround the majority of the cases of threats, disappearances and murders of journalists in Mexico.

The unprecedented, 87-page report of the Misión de Observación may be found here: http://www.clasesdeperiodismo.com/2014/03/19/mexico-asesinato-de-periodista-gregorio-jimenez-no-puede-ser-un-caso-cerrado/. The report was supported by Reporteros sin Fronteras, Periodistas de a Pie, the Casa de Derechos de Periodistas, and the Inter-American Press Association (SIP-IAPA).

Translator Patrick Timmons is a human rights investigator and journalist. He edits the Mexican Journalism Translation Project (MxJTP), a quality selection of Spanish-language journalism about Latin America rendered into English. Follow him on Twitter @patricktimmons.

 

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Complaint Filed in Disappearance of Veracruz Reporter (Regina Martínez, PROCESO)

Proceso first published this article on 23 September 2011. It is being translated as part of the MxJTP’s attempt to publish the late reporter Regina Martínez’s work in English.

Translator’s Note: Under international and regional human rights law, an enforced disappearance is an ongoing crime until the person’s whereabouts, or remains, have been located. In February 2014 the state of Veracruz reopened its investigation into Manuel Fonseca´s disappearance. But it should never have been stalled, or closed, in the first place. PT

Complaint Filed in Disappearance of Veracruz Reporter
By Regina Martínez (PROCESO)

JALAPA, Veracruz.- Relatives of Manuel Fonseca Hernández filed charges about the cimre reporter’s disappearance. The journalist worked for newspaper El Mañanero in Acayucán in the south of Veracruz.

According to family members, Fonseca Hernández disappeared on Saturday 17 September when he left his home to cover a newspaper event. He did not return home, nor did he call his editors.

The young reporter’s father, Juan Fonseca Aguirre, filed a complaint with the Public Prosecutor in Acayucán since he does not know his son’s whereabouts. “We are afraid that something bad has happened to him,” he said.

The judicial complaint is registered under the number for preliminary investigation (averiguación previa) ACA/621/2001.

Journalist Regina Martínez was murdered in Xalapa, Veracruz on 28 April 2012. Even a cursory review of her articles reveals that Martínez was covering stories deeply unpopular to Veracruz authorities. Although one man was prosecuted for her death, months later he was released since his confession had been produced under torture. Since her death, four reporters have been murdered in Veracruz, according to CPJ data. This article first appeared under the title, “Denuncian desaparición de un reportero en el sur de Veracruz,” available at: http://www.proceso.com.mx/?p=282251.

Journalist Manuel Gabriel Fonseca continues disappeared, his whereabouts unknown. In January 2014, his elderly mother went missing, but then reappeared in Acayucán. Until February 2014, journalists reported the family has received no attention from authorities since Fonseca’s disappearance.

Translator Patrick Timmons is a human rights investigator and journalist. He edits the Mexican Journalism Translation Project (MxJTP), a quality selection of Spanish-language journalism about Latin America rendered into English. Follow him on Twitter @patricktimmons.

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Veracruz authorities find body of abducted journalist (Diego Cruz, Centro Knight UT Austin)

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Gregorio Jiménez de la Cruz

Authorities in the violent state of Veracruz found on Tuesday the body of reporter Gregorio Jiménez de la Cruz, who was missing since last week. Four people allegedly linked to his murder are in custody, reported Mexican daily El Universal.

The news saddened colleagues around the world who in the last six days had taken to the streets and the internet to protest his disappearance. The mobilization was one of the largest and most important by the world’s Spanish-speaking journalists in recent years.

Official sources from Veracruz confirmed that Jiménez’s body was found in a grave with two other bodies in the township of Las Choapas. Armed men abducted Jiménez on Feb. 5 near the city of Coatzacoalcos.

According to newspaper Reforma, authorities reported that the mastermind behind the crime was Teresa de Jesús Hernández Cruz, Jiménez’s neighbor. Authorities said she paid several alleged hitmen – four of whom have been captured – to carry out the crime. After being detained, the suspects took state authorities to the grave where they found the bodies.

The investigation is still ongoing and a search is underway to find an additional four suspects, El Universal reported.

Over the course of the day, before Veracruz authorities confirmed Jiménez de la Cruz’s death, the rumor that he had been rescued spread through social media. On Twitter, a reporter from Coatazacoalcos, Gabriela Rasgado, said that journalists from Las Choapas had confirmed that Jiménez had been found alive. Then on Facebook, journalist Sayda Chiñas Córdoba – Jiménez’s colleague at Notisur – said that she had been informed that he had been found alive but possibly wasn’t yet free.

Confirmation of Jiménez’s death sent colleagues into mourning.

“I grieve for you, Goyo. For a minute we thought that we would find you alive, that for the first time we had managed to save a journalist from death. The Federal Attorney must investigate,” wrote renowned Mexican journalist Marcela Turati on Twitter.

This blog post was written by Diego Cruz for the blog, Periodismo en las Américas at the Knight Center at the University of Texas at Austin.

Translator Patrick Timmons is a human rights investigator and journalist. He edits the Mexican Journalism Translation Project (MxJTP), a quality selection of Spanish-language journalism about Latin America rendered into English. Follow him on Twitter @patricktimmons.

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An At-risk Mexican Journalist in Exile Speaks Out About Veracruz

MxJTP Editorial Note
This open letter — written during the recent disappearance and murder of Veracruz crime journalist Gregorio Jiménez — is from Miguel Ángel López Solana who lives in exile outside Mexico after his brother, mother, and father were killed in 2011. López Solana is the surviving journalist of a family of Veracruz journalists. His father was MILO, Miguel Ángel Lopez Velasco, a well-known journalist for Notiver. His brother, Misael López Solana also worked for Notiver as a photojournalist. The following month, in July 2011, Notiver reporter Yolanda Ordaz was also murdered.
 As the Committee to Protect Journalists’ (CPJ) Mike O’Connor (who died in December 2013) reported in 2011, the deaths prompted many journalists working in Veracruz to flee the state. The letter was made available to Frontera-List and was translated by Molly Molloy of New Mexico State University and editor of Frontera-List. It is being published with the permission of López Solana and Molly Molloy. PT  

To my colleagues in south Veracruz: 

This letter comes to you from Miguel Ángel López Solana, writing somewhere in the Americas where he lives in exile from the dangerous conditions that swept his family away in 2011—a crime that to this day has not been solved by Veracruz authorities.

From exile——

The intense and constant attacks on freedom of expression in the State of Veracruz continue to cause irreparable losses and suffering while the authorities act as accomplices in the crimes committed against our fellow journalists and publishers. We have seen how they fabricate witnesses through torture and violence and how easy it is for them to find any dead citizen guilty of any crime they wish and then shamelessly spread false information to smear the victims’ entire family. Seeing the harrowing crime scenes is never enough for them; they use whatever they can to defame the victims and their families.

In the next few hours we will watch as they concoct another lie to supposedly clarify the case of the missing reporter of Liberal del Sur and Noti Sur, Gregorio Jiménez de la Cruz, who was abducted by a group of armed men. It looks as if the Attorney General of the State of Veracruz has everything planned and prepared, we could say they are just following the usual pattern. They certainly know everything about the victim and nothing about the perpetrator(s) of the crime. But the strangest thing is that the members of these special law enforcement groups set up to investigate cases of attacks on the press are always the same. Only the victims change.

And it is not the first time that Enoc Maldonado is named as the special prosecutor in an investigation of attacks against reporters and media outlets. He also was part of a special group investigating the case of the murder of Regina Martinez, our colleague from Proceso, and there is no doubt in that case that they fabricated witnesses through torture. Maldonado was also part of a special group in charge of the investigation of the shootout in the streets of Villarin, Veracruz, where a lieutenant of the Zetas Cartel was killed. We have no reason to doubt his experience in these sinister, but effective methods for obtaining justice. How can we believe a person with such a resume? Hasn’t he gotten this job through his skill at inventing lies? We can believe anything except that Enoc Maldonado is really good at his job.

In the case of Gregorio, I know from reports from colleagues that the police delayed more than a half hour in getting to the scene and that the only thing they did when they got there was to ask the name of the kidnapped journalist. Then they left. They did not want to spend too much time at the scene and they did not even ask the neighbors any questions. And this is the so-called trustworthy police heralded by the government of Javier Duarte de Ochoa? “Tell me what you brag about and I’ll tell you what you don’t have,” says the popular saying. Why are so many millions of pesos invested in security in the state of Veracruz, anyway?

Today once more, we demand justice and an honest clarification of the aggression committed against Gregorio Jimenez. We are fed up with the lies and tired of ineptitude and stupidity. Isn’t it enough that they call us “the fucking media” (“Pinches Medios”) as the Secretary of Public Security, Arturo Bermudez did recently. We know for sure that he has no respect for the press. But, what the government of Javier Duarte doesn’t know is that the journalists of Veracruz and of all Mexico “would rather die standing tall than live on our knees.” There are many of us now who have experienced and suffered these violent attacks. We as citizens do not deserve this evil and corrupt government with impunity its greatest ally, the government of Javier Duarte de Ochoa buying off our conscience.

From my exile in the United States, I offer my solidarity and support to the family of my fellow reporter, Gregorio Jimenez, and to each and every reporter in the south of Veracruz who are now suffering the same pain that we went through in our own port city (Puerto de Veracruz). It is a wound that has not healed and that keeps me far away from my loved ones. But my heart and my thoughts are with you.

Miguel Ángel López Solana.

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