Tag Archives: mexico

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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SILENCING DISSENT IN MEXICO: Atilano Román Slain, Leader of the Picachos Community (Miriam Ramírez, Riodoce)

Recently Murdered Octavio Atilo Román, Picachos Reservoir community leader.

Recently Murdered Octavio Atilo Román, Picachos Reservoir community leader.

This article was first published on 11 October 2014. It has been translated without permission for the Mexican Journalism Translation Project (MxJTP).

Translator’s Note: Atilo Román led the communities displaced by the construction of the Picachos reservoir in Sinaloa. He was imprisoned on trumped up charges by State Police in 2012 and 2013 when the Picachos communities were in ongoing protest against the government of Mario López Valdez of the PRI concerning the development, construction, and effects of the Picachos reservoir in Sinaloa. This summer he opened and promoted the new 750-person Picachos ecotourism community to a security-conscious clientele of Mexican and U.S. fishermen, stressing that the Picachos region was unscathed by violence between organized crime and government forces. Recently Atilo Román had returned to protesting corruption in the state government’s fisheries agency because it had failed to issue commercial fishing licenses to Picachos community members.

Newspaper El Sol de Mazatlán –- which has yet to report Atilo Román’s death in its radio station — is one of 70 newspapers in Mexico owned by Organización Editorial Mexicana. PT

SILENCING DISSENT IN MEXICO: Atilano Román Slain, Leader of the Picachos Community
By Miriam Ramírez (RIODOCE.COM)

A shot to the face from two armed men killed Atilano Román, leader of the Picachos community. The men burst into the station belonging to newspaper El Sol de Maztlán.

The attack took place at 10:40 in the morning just as he was being interviewed in a studio in the station. The two men came in carrying handguns; one of them shot Atilo Román point blank.

Seriously wounded, Atilo Román was taken to a hospital in Rafael Buelna Avenue where he died.

Local investigative agents of the Attorney General’s Office are currently in the southern region. They are investigating and questioning witnesses to the murder including reception area workers who allowed the alleged attackers to enter.

Recently the members of the Picachos Reservoir community, led by Atilo Román, had returned to demonstrations because of delays in licensing commercial fishing in the reservoir. CONAPESCA failed to deliver these licenses.

Atilano Román had complained about the interests of CONAPESCA officials for granting licenses to people outside the Picachos community.

In February 2013 the community’s leader and several of its members were arrested and arbitrarily imprisoned by officers of the State Prosecutor’s Police. They had announced they would enter the Carnival procession to stage a parody of Governor Mario López Valdez. They accused the governor — who belongs to the PRI, Mexico’s ruling party — of not fulfilling promises towards those communities displaced by the reservoir.

After those arrests the Human Rights Commission of the state of Sinaloa warned that the State Attorney General had abused the community members’ rights by detaining them without legitimate reasons and only to stop their demonstration during the Carnival.

But this wasn’t even the first time they had been arrested. In May 2012, the leader of thirty community members –- men, women, elderly people –- were detained by officers from the State Prosecutor’s Police as they walked down the Culiacán to Mazatlán highway in protest against the Governor of Sinaloa, López Valdez.

The community members have been fighting for more than five years, ever since construction began on the Picachos Reservoir. It displaced six towns in the Mazatlán and Concordia mountains.

The communities’ members have staged countless demonstrations. They have been imprisoned for demanding the state government provide compensation and fulfilling its promises.

 

Journalist Miriam Ramírez reports for Riodoce in Culiacán, Sinaloa. This article first appeared under the title, “Asesinan a Atilo Román, Líder de los Picachos,” available at: http://riodoce.mx/gob-politica/asesinan-a-atilano-roman-lider-de-los-picachos.

 

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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Social Activist and His Wife Bludgeoned to Death in Mexico (Pablo de Llano, El País)

This article was published in El País on 6 May 2014. It has been translated without permission by the Mexican Journalism Translation Project (MxJTP).

 

Professor Alejandro Chao at a community event. / Photo: BLOG LA HORMEGA

Professor Alejandro Chao at a community event. / Photo: BLOG LA HORMEGA

 

Social Activist and His Wife Bludgeoned to Death in Mexico
by Pablo de Llano (El País)

– The murder of a married couple respected for their social activism shocks the State of Morelos, the birthplace of Mexico’s Peace Movement

“It’s an atypical event,” Morelos’s governor, Graco Ramírez, said. The press release from the State University of Morelos defines it somewhat differently; as a high-impact crime characterized by a situation of structural insecurity: “These brutal and unspeakable murders (…) once again prick the country’s conscience about the absence of the right to life and security for citizens.” For a hurried politician what happened is an “event” but for the professor’s colleagues and friends the murders were a crime. The politician says it was “atypical” but to the friends and colleagues it was appalling evidence of a problem with shared public responsibility.

The lifeless bodies of the renowned psychology professor and social activist Alejandro Chao (77) and his wife, Sara Rebolledo (71), were found Monday morning in their home in Cuernavaca, the capital of the State of Morelos. On their heads they had marks of being bludgeoned by a stone. A window to their house was broken. Morelos’s Prosecutor, headquartered two blocks from the crime scene, has suggested an assault when the couple returned home at night and came upon the intruders. Morelos’s security chief, Alberto Capella, has said that the people who carried out the crime reacted violently because they knew the couple, and were surprised to see them arrive, “outside their routine.”

Bordering the south of Mexico City, the small state of Morelos has two million residents. It’s not one of Mexico’s regions overwhelmed by organized crime but it is an area preoccupied with small-scale criminal activity: mostly, kidnappings and extortions. In 2013, it was the Mexican state with the highest proportion of abductions: 8.5 per 100,000 people. If the states of Michoacán and Tamualipas provide the actual paradigms for the authorities for trying to combat the power of the large drug trafficking mafiosi, Morelos epitomizes the problems of structural deficiencies to protect citizens from crimes committed by smaller criminal groups. In the wake of the violent dynamics within Mexico stemming from the fight against drug trafficking and fed by the fatal combination of socioeconomic marginalization and criminal impunity, these lesser groups look on everyday citizens as a way to make money.

Professor Chao’s university has called for a march this Wednesday in Cuernavaca. Three years ago, the city’s displeased society symbolically turned itself against crime; in March 2011, poet Javier Sicilia’s 24-year old son was assassinated. A famous Mexican intellectual, Sicilia headed a march from Cuernavaca to Mexico City, sparking the Movement for Peace, Justice, and Dignity, the country’s most relevant social phenomenon of recent years. Three years later, with Sicilia retired to a supporting role after two years of unceasing activism, and because of the victims’ stature, Cuernavaca’s society finds itself with a new high impact case: a respected academic who after a life dedicated to social progress ends up murdered in his house beside his wife in an alleged assault by common criminals.

Chao continued to serve as director of the School of Social Work, after 36 years spent training psychologists, facts recognized in the University’s press release, which also mentions that Chao served as Mexico’s representative on UNESCO’s Council of Higher Education. According to the University, Chao “throughout his long and fertile life, gave voice to historically excluded communities and groups.” The press release ends by announcing this Wednesday’s march, and with a slogan: “Towards a humanity based on culture.”

Professor Chao was also a promoter of culture and edited a published collection of poetry called Voices Against the Wind (Voces al viento), bringing together young poets. He published one of his books of poetry in this collection: he called it Canticles of the Kabbalah (Cántigas de la cábala). The academic collaborated on a literary and political blog called La Hormega. After learning of his murder this Monday his fellow bloggers published one of his poems. By telephone this morning, Juan Pablo Picazo, who is responsible for La Hormega said the professor was involved in a process of re-writing his canticles. “He used to say that the more you grow, the more you learn, in the vain of Walt Whitman.” The last paragraph of the canticle published yesterday on the blog says:

The poet revives to the tune of pipes and flutes made of hemp;

I leave the garden where the fireflies excite the quantum world,

the lively rainbow color of the hummingbird sucking bottlebrush flowers

Three years after the tragedy of Javier Sicilia’s son, Mexico proves it still has problems with poetry and life.

Journalist Pablo de Llano reports for El País from Mexico. You can follow him on Twitter @pablodellano. This story first appeared under the title, “Asesinados a golpes en México un luchador social y su esposa,” available at: http://internacional.elpais.com/internacional/2014/05/06/actualidad/1399400912_102565.html.

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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Human Rights and the Denial of Justice in Mexico: The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights Returns to the Case of Digna Ochoa, “Rights Violations” to be Revealed (Norma Trujillo Báez, La Jornada de Veracruz en Linea)

This article was first published in La Jornada de Veracruz en Linea on 24 April 2014. It has been translated without permission for the Mexican Journalism Translation Project (MxJTP).

Human Rights and the Denial of Justice in Mexico: The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights Returns to the Case of Digna Ochoa, “Rights Violations” to be Revealed by Norma Trujillo Báez (LA JORNADA DE VERACRUZ EN LINEA)

This article was first published in La Jornada de Veracruz en Linea on 24 April 2014. It has been translated without permission for the Mexican Journalism Translation Project (MxJTP).

Human Rights and the Denial of Justice in Mexico: The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights Returns to the Case of Digna Ochoa, “Rights Violations” to be Revealed
by Norma Trujillo Báez (La Jornada de Veracruz)

When the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) returns to the case of the murder of Digna Ochoa y Plácido (born Veracruz, 1964; died Mexico City, 2001), her brother Ignacio says that irregularities in the State’s preliminary investigation will appear: Digna’s behavior and image were put in doubt. The Mexican State can be sanctioned, showing that all the country’s human rights defenders are at risk.

In an interview, Ignacio Ochoa says that there is still no justice in the case. Mexico City’s District Attorney tarnished her image and manipulated the case because it worked it only as a suicide, rather than a murder. But “the Washington-based IACHR will analyze all the irregularities that we have always presented, such as the failures in the initial investigation, and hiding the intellectual mastermind and material executors of Digna’s murder. The collusion behind denying justice in our country is evident, even today, even though it portrays itself as democratic.”

– Even after so much time has passed, do you still maintain that the murder was a result of Digna’s activism?

– “In the initial investigation, there’s expert evidence showing that at the crime scene Digna was subjected to physical aggression. Digna was never suicidal.”

The IACHR’s 16 July 2013 admissibility report [number 57/13] for the case shows that since 2 November 1999 the Commission has known of possible human rights violations.

Digna Ochoa was born on 15 May 1964 in Misantla, Veracruz. As a lawyer she litigated cases of alleged Zapatistas from Yanga, Veracruz and from the State of Mexico (1995). She  also litigated the cases of Aguas Blancas and El Charco (1995) from Guerrero; of Acteal in Chiapas (1997), and of Guerrero’s imprisoned ecologists, Rodolfo Montiel and Teodoro Cabrera.

On 19 October 2001, Digna Ochoa y Plácido was murdered in her office in 31-A Zacatecas Street, in Mexico City’s Colonia Roma, an act that immediately provoked indignation from different human rights organizations.

The real reason behind the human rights defender’s murder may only come to light this year. But the IACHR’s admissibility of the case also puts her family at risk: a general sense of insecurity exists; the government is unhappy with the decision and tried to block the case’s admissibility before the IACHR, Digna’s brother said.

“It will be demonstrated that Digna was murdered. The lack of access to justice shows that Mexico violates human rights, that it is not a democratic country. In order to advance human rights we have confronted the President and the state governor, both of whom are obvious human rights violators.”

For human rights defenders, “the vindication of Digna Ochoa y Placido’s image will validate the work of those who defend human rights in Mexico,” given that to “justify” the argument of her suicide, Mexico City’s prosecutor attacked Digna Ochoa’s image, history, life, and work. Thus her brother argued that her vindication will be fundamental.

Journalist Norma Trujillo Báez reports for La Jornada from Veracruz. This story was first published bearing the title, “Retoma CIDH caso Digna Ochoa; revelará “violación de derechos,” available at: http://www.jornadaveracruz.com.mx/Nota.aspx?ID=140424_013020_580.

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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Children Returned In School Buses to Honduras Twice a Week (Rodrigo Soberanes, RADIO PROGRESO)

This article was first published by Radio Progreso on 26 March 2014. It has been translated without permission for the Mexican Journalism Translation Project (MxJTP).

Children Returned in School Buses to Honduras Twice a Week
by Rodrigo Soberanes (RADIO PROGRESO)

The Honduran children shout, play, and poke their heads and arms out of the windows of the old U.S. school bus. But they are not going to school. They are being returend to their country as deportees.

They are in Corinto, a Honduras town bordering Guatemala where two times a week buses arrive from Tapachula, Chiapas leaving the children in the hands of police.

When the buses arrive in Honduras after more than a ten-hour journey from Mexico, the national police flank the yellow buses bearing the words “School Bus”.
The Mexican and Honduran buses park front-to-front but 30 meters separates them. In that space, over a few minutes, it’s like the scene at a kindergarten, when mothers take the time to make their children presentable.

While older siblings begin filling the buses that will return them home, mothers hurriedly change diapers, prepare bottles and, on the ground, change the clothes of their children. Everything happens under the watchful eyes of the police and staff from the International Red Cross – they offer medical and psychological attention to the deportees.

The Centro Fray Matías de Córdoba has counted almost 10 thousand deported minors from Mexico to Central America during 2013 – in two years, that’s more than a 100 percent increase.

For 2011 this human rights organization has documented that 4,100 minors were returned to several countries. In 2013, that figure rose to 9,893 minors.

So, between 2011 and 2013 the number of migrant minors deported to their countries of oroigin rose by more than 5,700. Mexico’s National Migration Institute (INM) holds all of these people in the Tapachula detnetion center, the largest in the country and in Latin America, according to one specialist.

A single mother clutching her four-year old child, and who did not want to give her name, said that she was detained in Las Choapas, Veracruz and was held for two days in a migrant detention center. She did not know where she was, but perhaps close to the Acayucán center where she spent another two days before being taken to Tapachula.

The women migrant, a mother of three children who remained at home, tried to remain undetected by police. She did not want to be taken to San Pedro Sula, Honduras, a shelter run by the country’s Chidren and Family Insitute (IHNFA, according to its Spanish acronym.)

According to Diego Lorente, the center seems to be in the hands of the Mara Salvatrucha. Like the mother, another family tried to remain undetected so as to stay away from the yellow buses. “They should have taken care of us when we were leaving our country, not when we’re coming back,” the woman exclaimed.

“Along the way, we travel with the children, getting on and off the buses, dealing with the hunger. We have to stomach some humiliating treatment. Traveling through Mexico is the most difficutl. Some Mexicans are bad and some are good,” she said.

I ask them: And now what? “I am going home. I have to get back home…. Bad experience,” the woman said as she ducked out of the conversation. A friend of hers made signs that they needed to make a dash for it while the officials were taking a break.

The mothers with two children joined another family and tried to enter their country in the same way they left it: undetected. But then they were seen by police and forced to get into the “school buses.”

Journalist Rodrigo Soberanes is based in Mexico. Follow him on Twitter @rodsantin. This article first appeared for Radio Progreso, Honduras, under the title, “Devuelven niños en camión escolar a Honduras dos veces a la semana,” available at: http://radioprogresohn.net/index.php/comunicaciones/noticias/item/814-devuelven-ni%C3%B1os-en-cami%C3%B3n-escolar-a-honduras-dos-veces-a-la-semana.

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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Unprecedented response to Mexican journalist’s murder (Patrick Timmons, CPJ Guest Blogger)

Unprecedented response to Mexican journalist’s murder (Patrick Timmons, CPJ Guest Blogger)

The disappearance and murder in Veracruz from February 5 through 11 of local journalist Gregorio Jiménez de la Cruz remains mired in controversy.

In mid February, after Jiménez’s murder, a group of journalists traveled to Veracruz and investigated the authorities’ response to the journalist’s killing. On March 19, the group, called Misión de Observación, published the findings of its unprecedented investigation in a report called “Gregorio: Asesinado por informar” (Gregorio: Murdered for Reporting). Their report documented Jiménez’s disappearance and murder, the state’s ineffective response, and the less-than-supportive working conditions of his newspapers in southern Veracruz.

CLICK ON THE LINK ABOVE TO KEEP READING

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Governor of Mexico State says Michoacán Does Not Meet Minimum Criteria to Belong to the Federal Republic (El Deforma)

This satirical news piece – about hiving off Mexico’s troubled western state of Michoacán, making it independent – was published in El Deforma on Monday 24 March 2014. Mexico’s press has a lengthy tradition – stretching back to even before independence from Spain in the early nineteenth century – of employing satire to steer through thorny issues. It has been translated without permission for the Mexican Journalism Translation Project (MxJTP). 

Governor of Mexico State says Michoacán Does Not Meet Minimum Criteria to Belong to the Federal Republic
By El Deforma

Mexico.- The Governor of the State of Mexico — the gurantor of safety for all the country’s inhabitants — requested the Senate erase the State of Michoacán. He says the state must not keep operating because it does not meet security standards.

Eruviel Ávila argues that there are not enough police resources to maintain order in that state and the healthiest thing to do is shut it down until there’s certainty that it can operate according to minimum standards to avoid instances of violence.

“We can’t let Michoacán go on. I know that there will be a lot of people affected by this proposal, but the damage will be greater if it continues being part of the country. Besides, they are going to refund money for everybody who bought a house there,” declared an energetic Eruviel, a man who never tires of protecting the nation.

“I know that it’s not my job to worry about Michoacán. But I feel a bit like a father who worries about his children and also about his friends.”

The Senate will analyze the proposal inviting Michoacán to declare itself independent for an indefinite period. Some lawmakers have already shown they are in favor. “Well, if we run some quick numbers, if we separate Mexico from Michoacán, then the violence in this country will go down automatically. The Monarch butterflies present a bit of a problem, because they bring in a ton of tourist money and they normally live in Michoacán, but surely we’ll be able to relocate them here,” stated Senator Eduardo Merénguez.

A vote on the proposal is expected in the following hours when a decision is expected.

Satirical news portal El Deforma pokes fun at all things in Mexico, including the country’s political class. The article first appeared under the title, “Asegura que Michoacán no cuenta con los estándares mínimos para llevarse a cabo,” available at: http://eldeforma.com/2014/03/24/eruviel-cancela-el-estado-de-michoacan-por-falta-de-seguridad/.

Translator Patrick Timmons’ last piece of droll satire appeared on CounterPunch as “Interviewing Myself: A Selfie Portrait,” available at: http://www.counterpunch.org/2014/03/14/a-selfie-portrait/

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“I didn’t know that a human could take so much pain” (Daniela Rea, EL UNIVERSAL)

This article was published in El Universal on 15 March 2014. It has been translated without permission for the Mexican Journalism Translation Project.

“I didn’t know that a human could take so much pain”
by Daniela Rea (EL UNIVERSAL)

The first thing that springs to mind for Gustavo Martínez Rentería about the torture he and his friends suffered at the hands of the Federal Police, whose officers forced them to admit to being criminals, is the moment when the uniformed agents opened the door to the room where they had been hitting them for several days. At that moment, the officers asked if they wanted to say anything, as it was going to get worse.

The door opened. They were in a giant warehouse, bound hand and foot, in front of TV cameras that were pointing at them. To one side was Luis Cárdenas Palomino, then spokesperson for the Federal Police, saying that they were narcos, responsible for planting the car bomb in Ciudad Juárez on 15 July 2010.

“When I saw myself in front of the cameras, the world stopped turning and the only thing I thought was: ‘Holy shit, we are done for’” says Gustavo, now free, after spending three years and seven months in prison accused of a crime he confessed to under torture, along with four childhood friends: Rogelio Amaya Martínez, Noé Fuentes Chavira, and brothers Víctor Manuel and Ricardo Fernández Lomelí.

“I didn’t understand what was going on, they had beaten us so much… you don’t know what’s truth and what’s a lie. They even make you doubt yourself,” he says during a conversation with EL UNIVERSAL.

Gustavo was 24 years old when he was arrested. He was working in a bar in Ciudad Juárez. Like his friends, he looks like he just came from another world. He walks gingerly, like he’s trying to recognize the ground.

“The only thing I can ask for is patience from my people,” he says.

To prove the youths’ innocence, their defense – headed by the Paso del Norte Human Rights Centre (Centro de Derechos Humanos Paso del Norte) and the Collective Against Torture and Impunity – implemented the Istanbul Protocol, an international test that comprises assessing bodily and emotional damage done to victims of torture. The test demonstrated that they suffered beatings to both body and face, electric shocks, simulated murder and suffocation with plastic bags and water, threats of being raped, or their families being raped, and that they were made to watch their friends being abused or hearing their torture. Subsequently, the National Human Rights Commission (CNDH) confirmed these results in recommendation 75/2011.

— Gustavo is asked, “How do you see yourself now that you are out of prison?” He closes his eyes, and tries to imagine.

— I see a skinny guy, hobbled, spent, who walks slowly, nervously… on the ground are the bits that they broke off: dignity, self-esteem, strength, patience, confidence, a whole life.

Rogelio Amaya, one of the arrested youths, looks at himself and is surprised to have discovered personal strength. “I didn’t know that I could bear so much, so much pain. How is it possible that a living being can tolerate so much pain? I see somebody who thinks he’s now stronger than he was [before the torture].

We Come Back Damaged

On 13 August 2010 the Federal Police brought the five youths accused of the Ciudad Juárez car bombing in which four people died before the media. The defense alleged that they were tortured to admit their guilt, and even the Federal Attorney General withdrew its criminal complaint, and freed them on Friday 7 March.

“During Felipe Calderón’s presidency, we witnessed the fabrication of criminals through torture. The government needed to find the guilty and so it fingered these young men. The Federal Police tortured them in Ciudad Juárez, then when they were transferred by plane and in the hangar, and later at their Iztapalapa base. They had them for five days so that they could do unthinkable things to them,” says Javier Enríquez of the Collective Against Torture and Impunity at a press conference on 11 March in Mexico City as he announced these youth’s release. The young men were present at the press conference.

The defense has begun a judicial process against the police officers who arrested the youths. They hope for sanctions against federal agents Manuel Calleja Marín, Víctor Aquileo Lozano Vera, Manuel Granero Rugerio, Federico López Pérez, Adán Serafín Cárdenas Cruz and Luis Alberto González Gutiérrez and for reparations agains the damaged caused to the youths and their families.

The first night that Mayra and Rogelio spent together, after his freedom, they talked without stopping, trying to bring each other up to date. “We didn’t come back from a holiday, Mayra, we returned damaged, bitter,” Rogelio said to her at one point, when the certainties of the “return to life” began bit by bit to fall into place.

Days later, in Mexico City, he would remember and reflect upon that scene: “We went three years and seven months inside and suddenly realized… Starting over again is going to be difficult, and I spoke to her a lot so that she can be patient with me.”

Mayra sits by his side. The wife who has been with him over the past eight years has to get used to the idea that her husband is now different from who he used to be.

“I see that he has changed. He has a different look. A lot of courage and insecurity, of sadness. In his eyes he is always on alert. Before, he used to look normal. I don’t know how to explain it… it’s also in the way he walk, as if he’s being watched, always turning back, surprised that a guard isn’t following him.”

The results from the Istanbul Protocol reflect how the torture has marked them: insomnia, nightmares, frightened of going out, of being alone, of closing their eyes, unexpectedly reliving the torture, of wanting to be dead, lack of appetite, migraines.

Mayra knows what the psychologists have told him: these are normal feelings coming from an abnormal situation. “We need to talk a lot. He was a prisoner there, but out here a lot of things have happened. I want to understand, to know how to get close to him again,” Mayra says.

“What do you want to know? How they tortured me? What it’s like to be lock…” he replies.

Rogelio worked in a Soriana warehouse before his arrest. He leaves sentences unfinished. That’s how he came out: he doesn’t speak very much, or he interrupts himself. For the press conference the youths agreed that he would speak for his friends. Once again, TV cameras were pointed at him, but now they want to hear the truth. He couldn’t talk.

One aim of torture is to extract words. The youths had words taken from them when they were fored to confess to crimes they didn’t commit. And they had words taken from them again when, in front of the cameras, they couldn’t talk about the torture. Now free, words seem to be beyond them. Words stuck in their stomachs, in their throats, in their mouths. It’s like the words want to come out but they drown in teary eyes that, it seems, don’t belong to them.

Back to Life

It was 1430 on the afternoon of Friday 7 March when Rogelio and Noé left prison in Tepic, Nayarit State. Meanwhile, in the south of the country, Gustavo, Víctor and Ricardo left the prison in Perote, Veracruz. Hours later, for the first time since their arrest, the five would reunite in Mexico City. They were never allowed to communicate.

“We didn’t recognize each other. Noé and Gustavo were really skinny,” Víctor jokes, the youngest. When they put him in prison he was 19 years old and he was about to become a father. His son was born two weeks after he went to prison and he only met him last year when his lawyers managed to obtain permission to visit the maximum-security prison. That time they saw him through glass. They couldn’t touch.

“The first time that he said “daddy”…” he says, and his face lights up.

Rogelio also became a father again when he was a prisoner. Prior to that he had a four year-old son and his wife Mayra was about to give birth to a girl. When he regained his freedom on Friday, the first thing that he did was to run to embrace her. The girl was unsettled and began to cry. She didn’t know who he was. As the days went by, she has been getting used to his arms, to his smiles.

“What’s it like to be free again? It’s like being born. There’s no way to describe it,” and a smile appears on Rogelio’s face.

To be re-born, that’s what freedom is for them. Rogelio, Gustavo, Víctor, Noé and Ricardo know they have been broken, but the torture made them discover something about themselves they did not know.

“I always thought I was a strong person but this has told me that ‘I’m great’.” It’s let me know that I can pick myself up,” Gustavo exclaims.

“I have matured a lot. I realize that I am a person who can behave like a father, like a man,” Víctor adds.

Family is their bulwark, what sustains them. They want to regain lost time, to find a job, to build a business, to show themselves and others that they can keep on going.

“The greatest payback for what they did to me is to take the life they stole from me and show them that I can go on. I want to move on and leave everything behind,” says Rogelio, summing up how he and his friends feel.

They are hungry to get back each of the 1,305 days they spent in prison. Their families know that’s a tall order, to carry all that on their shoulders. To pick up the pieces and to get back to full strength is going to be a slow, painful process.

Mayra, Rogelio’s wife, can feel it already.

“I tell him that the most important thing is that he believes it, and that he is back with us and that we are going to move forward.”

Journalist Daniela Rea reports for newspaper El Universal. Follow her on Twitter @danielarea. This article first appeared in Spanish with the title, “No sabía que un ser humano podía aguantar tanto dolor,” available at: http://www.eluniversal.com.mx/nacion-mexico/2014/impreso/-8220no-saba-que-un-ser-humano-poda-aguantar-tanto-dolor-8221-213959.html.

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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Tales of Torture and Impunity in Ciudad Juárez: Judge Orders Five Accused in 2010 Car Bombing Must Be Freed (Reporting Staff, El Diario de Juárez)

This article was first published in El Diario de Juárez on Tuesday 11 March 2014. It has been translated without permission for the Mexican Journalism Translation Project (MxJTP).

Tales of Torture and Impunity in Ciudad Juárez: Judge Orders Five Accused in 2010 Car Bombing Must Be Freed
By Staff (El Diario de Juárez)

– Their Torture Documented, Human Rights Attorney Demands Reparation for Five Victims of Official Abuse; Spent more than 3 years in jail, charges now dropped

Mexico’s Federal Attorney General has withdrawn charges against five men who were detained for involvement in the detonation of a car bomb in 2010 in Ciudad Juárez.

Noé Fuentes Chavira, Rogelio Amaya Martínez, Víctor Manuel Martínez Rentería, Gustavo Martínez Rentería and Ricardo Fernández Lomelí were released last Friday after three and a half years in prison, according to attorney Diana Morales of the Centro de Derechos Humanos Paso del Norte.

Morales added that the five proved positive under the Istanbul Protocol, a manual designed to determine if a person was subjected to torture or degrading treatment.

Journalist reports establish that on being detained, they were accused of organized crime, crimes against health for marijuana possession, and of carrying arms for exclusive use by the Armed Forces. At the time, the Federal Ministry of Public Security (SSPF), headed by Genaro García Luna reported that Fuentes Chavira revealed that he had participated in the attack against the Federal Police on 15 July 2010 as an informer of La Línea. He was placed in preventive detention in the Federal Investigation Center while they investigated the evidence against him.

Morales explained that the people detained on 11 August 2010 were accused of federal crimes but not terrorism. That is to say, not for detonating the car bomb on Avenida 16 de Septiembre that caused the death of Doctor José Guillermo Ortiz Collazo, Federal Agent Ismael Valverde Solares and civilian César Gabiño Aviña, along with injuring 11 other people, among them six Federal Police agents and a camera operator for television station Canal 5. A judge in Guadalajara ordered the five be restored to freedom after receiving indication that they no longer stood accused of criminal charges.

“The Attorney General withdrew charges because we sat down to dialogue with them, letting them know that there were only two pieces of evidence against the accused: the confessions taken under torture and the words of the federal agents. When we applied the Protocol of Istanbul to these youths, one could see that their testimony was extracted under torture and yielded a document that demonstrated the officers were lying. They said the youths were detained on 12 August, but really the arrests occurred on 11 August. A document exists that proves this fact,” said the attorney.

That proof is a notice issued by the Federal Police to the agency’s juridical arm in Mexico City, stating that five people were detained on 11 August. That date was changed in the record to an arrest date of 12 August, Morales explained. During that 24 hour period the five were subjected to torture.

The attorney for the accused said that the Attorney General only had proof from the same agents that detained them, and the five youth’s confession “extracted under torture.”

“They accused them of organize crime, guns, and drugs, but they couldn’t prove any relation to the car bomb,” confirmed Morales.

The defense requested application of the Istanbul Protocol to prove torture, thereafter corroborated by the National Human Rights Commission (CNDH), which prompted the Attorney General to issue is recommendation number 75/2011.

After that point, the attorney said that in a meeting Mexico’s current Attorney General, Jesús Murillo Karam promised to apply other tests under the Istanbul Protocol, and if at least one test came back positive then they would all go free. All five tested positive.

“The Attorney General kept his word. He is saying that these people had nothing to do with organized crime, or with drugs, and the accusations were baseless. This means that there were no charges to pursue against them,” Morales confirmed.

She added that the Attorney General arrived at these conclusions last Thursday, and the judge freed them on Friday. The same day the five left their respective prisons.

The CDHPN spokesperson, Carlos Murillo, said that after being freed, the five met in Mexico City where they gave a press conference. Tomorrow, Wednesday, they will arrive in Juárez accompanied by their families.

The human rights attorney added that the Federal Police also abused their right to due process because it took two and a half days to deliver them to the Federal Public Prosecutor.

More than one year ago, the now-freed prisoners filed a complaint with the Federal Public Prosecutor documenting their torture. The CDHPN hopes that the federal agents who committed these crimes will be punished.

“We expect them to punish those agents. The Attorney General seems to be acting in good faith. Not only did he recognize the abuse suffered by the youths for something they did not do, but he also has the will and the obligation. Torture is a crime and the Attorney General must continue his investigation,” he added.

The people who are still under investigation for crimes of terrorism, homicide, attempted homicide, and the use of a stolen vehicle in connection with the car bombing occurring on the border in 2010 are listed in penal process 218/2012 at the Mesa I of the Sixth District Court: José Iván Contreras Lumbreras, “El Keiko”; Jaime Arturo Chávez González, “El Jimmy”; Mauro Adrián Villegas, “El Blaky” or “El Negro”; Fernando Contreras Meras, “El Barbas”; Martín Pérez Marrufo, “El Popeye” or “El Gordo”; Lorenzo Tadeo Palacios, “El Shorty” or “Shorty Dog”; Jorge Antonio Hernández, “El Chapo” or “El Chapito.”

José Antonio Acosta Hernández, alias Carlos Martínez Pérez, “El Diego” or “El Uno” or “El 10” is also listed in the criminal complaint but he will not go to trial as he is imprisoned in the United States.

Leticia Chavarría, member of the Security Committee, and friend of one of the victims who died in the explosion, said that it is important that five of the accused in this case have been freed.

“There was insufficient proof to declare them guilty, and that is very serious,” she said.

She added that if these people are innocent, and they were wrongly imprisoned, then the justice system is failing.

“For us, the most important thing is to see justice served. If they are innocent, where are the people who are really responsible,” she asked.

The CDHPN requested the Justice Department (PGR) continue its investigations so that those responsible for the crime of torture against the five wrongly accused can be punished.

Also, the Federal Police should continue to comply with the CNDH’s recommendation 75/2012 and provide integral reparation to the victims.

To guarantee non-repetition, the Mexican state must instruct its police forces and investigative units not to torture and mistreat detainees, as established by Mexico’s Constitution and the relevant international treaties.

It must also eliminate preventive detention. At the instant that somebody alleges being victim to torture, they must immediately see the Public Prosecutor, with any confession then voided. The independent experts that apply the Protocol of Istanbul must be accepted and recognised.

After the car bomb attack on 15 July 2010 – unprecedented for the border – the Federal Public Security Ministry released a communique indicating the attack was in reprisal for the arrest of Jesús Armando Acosta Guerrero, “El 35,” the leader of La Línea, a local criminal gang. “El 35” was a subordinate of Jose Antonio Acosta Hernández, “El Diego” who was second in command in La Línea and under the direct control of Juan Pablo Ledezma, “El JL,” a lieutenant of Vicente Carrillo Fuentes.

The attack occurred when Federal Police agents arrived at the intersection of 16 de Septiembre and Bolivia in response to an attack on a municipal officer. First-aid responders also arrived on the scene, as did different media outlets.

A doctor from a nearby surgery, José Guillermo Ortiz Collazo, was already on the scene attending to the supposedly injured municipal police officer. As they arrived at the location, federal officers reported that a vehicle had been tailing them for blocks, so they requested backup.

At the scene, the three squad cars slewed as did a recent model green Ford Focus with license plate 853 SHF6. Two men suddenly stepped from the car, prompting the police officers to open fire.

After the shots, there was an explosion. According to the report provided by sources within Chihuahua’s Coordinated Operation, a fragmentation grenade was activated intentionally to end the lives of the police officers.

The explosion could be heard from kilometers away. Flames from the car bomb and the squad cars could be seen across the city.

Windows of houses, car windshields, sidewalk concrete, and asphalt, as well as metal from the car bomb were strewn for meters around the blast site.

The case attracted U.S. investigators with expertise in terrorist acts collaborated with Mexican authorities in the investigation of the car bomb. (Staff/El Diario)

Case Highlights

•A car bomb exploded on 15 July 2010, at the intersection of 16 de Septiembre and Bolivia, Ciudad Juárez. The bombers used terrorist tactics.

• Dead in the blast: Doctor José Guillermo Ortiz Collazo, Federal Agent Ismael Valverde Solares and civilian César Gabiño Aviña.

• Six federal police officers and a television camera operator were injured in the blast.

• U.S. anti-terrorist experts collaborated with Mexican authorities in the investigation.

• According to the Federal Public Security Ministry, the attack was in reprisal for the arrest of the commander of La Línea, Jesús Armando Acosta Guerrero, a subordinate of “El Diego,” second in command of the group under the direct control of Juan Pablo Ledezma, “El JL”, lieutenant of Vicente Carrillo Fuentes.

This article was reported in Spanish by Reporting Staff at the newspaper El Diario de Juárez, in Chihuahua, Mexico. El Diario is a daily newspaper known for hard-hitting coverage, and its journalists are always at risk. The article appeared under the title, “Libres, implicados en bombazo aquí,” available at: http://diario.mx/Local/2014-03-11_b971ab2c/libres-implicados-en-bombazo-aqui/.

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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Day Laborers (Javier Valdez Cárdenas, RÍODOCE)

This Malayerba column was first published in RíoDoce on 9 March 2014. It has been translated without permission for the Mexican Journalism Translation Project (MxJTP).

Day Laborers
By Javier Valdez Cárdenas (RíoDoce)

The teacher taught his classes with reluctance. Tired of the transactions with the secretary – of asking, going, and coming for two months back pay. Tired and bad-tempered. One of the townspeople knew that the teacher was in need and approached him: I will pay you four months of salary, but occasionally just let me loose with the kids.

He looked at him a moment and his look instantly revealed all: he had poppies flowering, bulbs swollen. He needed to begin scoring them, collecting the harvest of opium sap. The teacher looked at him and then looked again. He didn’t blink: between the eyelashes, piercing, bloodshot eyes. And what with his need for money, overwhelmed by it all, he accepted.

It wasn’t just a couple of days. It was the whole week. The children in the furrows: short, skinny, small-handed and still delicate, they were just what the red carpet of poppies, bulbs, and the sticky substance needed. Bulkier types, with clumsy hands, brusque movements, bigger people, they would have ruined the heavenly harvest that seemed swelled by profit, the sure sell.

The teacher took advantage of the opportunity to take a breather. He took care of the school’s administrative business, since he was also its director, janitor, teacher and even the parent-student counsellor. He renewed his attempt to get paid, now without the pressure of empty pockets, his lips no longer tight around his mouth.

The children arrived, put down their bags then went to work. Into small cylindrical containers, they collected the slow, dense fluid that came from buttons on the plant. One, two, three marks. Several trips to the same furrow: squeezing that natural toy with the care of a vascular surgeon, that beautiful part of the poppy, and cutting, cutting, cutting until it bled.

The harvest ended and classes resumed. That man, in the three-peaked hat with the commanding voice, he let the little ones go and thanked the teacher. Whenever, he replied. The weekend came swiftly and the children asked if they could go to the nearest town, out on the junction with the state highway.

Among the shops, restaurants, homemade bread stalls, pharmacies, convenience stores, and hardware stores they ran, looked, inquired, wanted: this thing, that, another. An older boy approached a man eating eggs with machaca, drinking coffee. Hey, mister, don’t you want to sell me something. Like what, asked the adult. Something, whatever.

Intrigued, the man put down his fork and pushed his cup away. Let’s see, let’s see what’s up. What have you brought with you? The child put his hand in the right pocket of his pants. He pulled out a fist of notes: dollars and more dollars, jumping out, banded together, lively. What’s that about kid, he asked, taken a back. I just got out of work. He insisted: are you sure you don’t have a gun to sell me.

Journalist Javier Valdez Cárdenas is the founding editor of RíoDoce, an online news outlet based in Culiacán, Sinaloa. He is the author of various books, including Con la Granada en la Boca (Aguilar, 2014). This column was first published under the title, “Jornaleros,” and is available at http://riodoce.mx/noticias/columnas/malayerba/jornaleros.

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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