Tag 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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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.


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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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Missing in Mexico: Tales from Death Highway — Stretch of Veracruz Highway Serves as Dump for Bodies of the Executed (Hernán Villareal Cruz, DIARIO PRESENCIA)

This article first appeared in Diario Presencia on 18 February 2014. It has been translated without permission for the Mexican Journalism Translation Project (MxJTP).

Missing in Mexico: Tales from Death Highway — Stretch of Veracruz Highway Serves as Dump for Bodies of the Executed
By Hernán Villareal Cruz (Diario Presencia)

– Taxi drivers, teachers, union leaders, and lookouts for organized crime, just some of the victims found in the last ten months on this stretch of highway near Las Choapas, Veracruz

Over the past few months, criminal groups operating in the state’s southern town-ships – among them the towns of Las Choapas and Agua Dulce – have used the stretch of highway between Paralelo and Coatzacoalcos to dump bodies, many of them decapitated. Searching newspaper archives for an estimate of their number yields a statistic of at least a dozen victims.

The area around El Paralelo, from the Las Choapas junction to before the Madisa industrial zone, already sets off alarms about violence and insecurity. But this year the number of execution victims is increasing, without anybody being arrested for them.

The lack of patrols and darkness are key factors that have turned this highway into an ideal place for organized and common criminals to execute or “get rid of” victims. Nobody catches them in the act. In the first part of this year, at least five bodies have been found, one of them a female is as yet unidentified.

The number of dead can only be documented because they have appeared: beheaded beside the road, thrown down ravines, on neighborhood roads or between lots.

Counting up the Bodies

On 13 March 2013, human remains belonging to a man were found inside a black bag on one side of the Coatzacoalcos-Paralelo highway around 32 kms from Agua Dulce town-ship.

The victim has never been identified. Forensic studies show that he could have been murdered. A .45 calibre bullet casing was found in the same place.

Size 32 blue denim pants were found at the crime scene, along with a Hugo Boss belt, a military green t-shirt, white socks, and grey sports boxers.

On Tuesday 1 October 2013, on the same stretch of highway around the garbage dump, a body appeared – covered in blood with a face bound with brown tape, hands and feet tied.

The victim turned out to be 29 year-old Samuel Méndez Martínez, resident of the El Muelle neighbourhood in Agua Dulce. For a time he had worked at the Rabasa oil well. His body showed signs of torture and his death resulted from blows that caused immense bleeding and possible brain trauma.

Union Leaders

On Wednesday 18 October 2013, the leader of the Authentic Federation of Veracruz State Workers (FATEV), Adolfo Sastré Palacios and another worker later identified as Darwin de la Cruz Sarauz, both of whom had been reported missing, were found executed in a clandestine grave near the Rabasa oil well.

Investigations reveal that first they were tortured on a highway stop on the Coatzacoalcos-Paralelo highway. Then their bodies were driven to a lot for burial at the 5.5 kms point on the old highway between Coatzacoalcos Agua Dulce. They were decapitated before burial.

In the murder of the union leader, investigators opened two lines of inquiry: rivalry between the Las Choapas and Agua Dulce unions, and extortion or collection of a turf fee for companies that work for PEMEX, the country’s state-owned oil company.

Two teachers and a taxi driver

On 1 November 2013, workers at a ranch located at the 21km mark on the Coatzacoalcos-Paralelo highway saw a taxi in the undergrowth and a bloodstained trunk area. They got close enough to see a decapitated body. Its head was between its legs.

When the authorities checked over taxi 135 from Agua Dulce, they discovered another body in the trunk. A little while afterwards that body was identified as Juan Felipe Nájera Sánchez, a driver of for-hire vehicles.

On 2 February 2014, the second body was identified. It was that of a teacher, Irving Alor Santander, who had been murdered and decapitated.

Meanwhile, on 4 November 2013, on the side of the same highway, around the 24km mark, the body of a teacher resident in Coatzacoalcos appeared.

They were Members of the Teachers’ Movement in Veracruz (MMPV)

His father, Amílcar Humberto Morales Briones, identified that body. The last time the father heard of his son’s whereabouts he was roaming around in a taxi, drinking with teacher Irving Santander.

Both Irving Santander and Álvaro Montes took part in the seizure of tollbooths in protest against the federal government’s educational reforms. They participated in the Veracruz Teachers’ Movement (MMPV), fighting to prevent secondary legislation and changes to Mexico’s constitution.

Another Taxi Driver

On 11 February 2014, a taxi driver who had disappeared for five days was found decapitated on the other side of the same stretch of highway, this time going in the direction to Villahermosa from Coatzacoalcos. The head was not found. Forensic investigators and the public prosecutor took the remains of the body.

The victim was identified as Otoniel Fabre Torres, 28 years old, who lived in the Centro neighborhood of Agua Dulce. His relatives reported that he had been missing since 6 February. He left his house around 20:00 that night. He never returned.

And a woman

Last 12 February the body of a woman was discovered. It was obvious she had been murdered. Her body was found to one side of the stretch of highway from Coatzacoalcos to Paralelo, around the 6.1km mark. Her body was in an advanced state of decomposition. She had a cloth wrapped around her head.

Owing to the body’s obvious decay, her age could not be calculated. Since a cloth covered her face, there’s an assumption that she had been dumped in that place for at least three days. She still has not been legally identified.

Most recently, on 14 February, a person of indeterminate sex was found. Again, the body was in an advanced state of decomposition. The body was discovered in a bag in a ravine around kilometer 20 of the Coatzacoalcos-Paralelo highway.

Judicial sources revealed that they had only found the body’s limbs, and that they were in an advanced state of decay.

And Those Still Missing…

It’s important to mention that these are only the cases that have come to light in the past few months. The authorities are aware that a large number of people have disappeared and their whereabouts remain unknown.

The Veracruz State Public Prosecutor’s office in Las Choapas currently reports six disappeared people, the result of a round-up by alleged judicial authorities driving around in a white truck last Tuesday, 11 February. But until now, no authorities admit to having detained these disappeared people. A fifteen year old girl is among those missing.

Reporter Hernán Villareal Cruz is one of Mexico’s at-risk journalists. He writes for Diario Presencia in Veracruz. This story first appeared under the title, “Tiradero de ejecutados tramo Paralelo-Coatza,” and is available at: http://diariopresencia.com/nota.aspx?ID=68977&List=%7BE99F52BD-B89D-4D80-A5BB-BCD1566AE98A%7D.

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)


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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Break-in at Home of Veracruz Photojournalist, Félix Márquez (RevistaEra.Com)

This news brief first appeared in RevistaEra.com. It has been translated without permission for the Mexican Journalism Translation Project (MxJTP).

Translator’s note: The significance of this story lies in the fact that it documents the third break in and robbery at the home of a Veracruz journalist during January 2014. Earlier in the month, journalists Gabriela Lira and Raymundo León experienced similar acts in different cities, suggesting a modus operandi, maybe even a strategy. As one journalist working in Veracruz told me, “Something fishy is going on.” PT

Break-in at Home of Veracruz Photojournalist
by Revista Era, 30 January 2014

– Early in the morning of 30 January 2014 photojournalist Félix Marquez´s home was robbed of computers, cell phones, and personal documents

Veracruz, Ver.- The home of a Veracruz photojournalist was broken into this morning, and robbed of computers, cell phones, and personal documents.

The robbery took place early in the morning, when the family noticed that the house had been broken into.

After reporting the robbery, the Naval Police took an hour to arrive. The Veracruz journalist already filed a complaint with the state’s attorney general, in the hope of finding out who was responsible.

This is not the first time that Veracruz media workers have been robbed in their homes of their personal equipment. The same happened to Regina Martínez, Proceso’s correspondent, who was killed in her home. The same happened to Andrés Timoteo, Notiver columnist and former correspondent for the Jornada, who currently lives out of the state.

A number of journalists working in the state have expressed sympathy for the photojournalist, taking to social media networks, demanding punishment for those responsible.

Félix Márquez is a photojournalist with Cuartooscuro, Associated Press, and a collaborator of various media outlets within the state, including Revista Era. He shot the photos of Tlalixcoyan that proved the existence of militia in the state. These photos provoked threats from the then head of public safety, Arturo Bermúdez Zurita, who said he wanted Márquez imprisoned.

– Tlalixcoyan joins the militia

– Urban militia, a new strategy

This news article was published by RevistaEra.com, a digital magazine from Veracruz, under the title “Asaltan casa de fotoperiodista #Veracruz,” available at: http://revistaera.com/index.php/m/7301-asaltan-casa-de-fotoperiodista-de-veracruz.

Translator Patrick Timmons is a human rights investigator and journalist. He edits the Mexican Journalism Translation Project (MxJTP).

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The Fausto Effect: Sidelining Veracruz Governor Javier Duarte

This article first appeared in La Razón. It has been translated without permission for the Mexican Journalism Translation Project (MxJTP).

The Fausto Effect: Sidelining Veracruz Governor Javier Duarte
by Salvador Camarena
(Translated by Patrick Timmons)

Mexico’s President Enrique Peña Nieto has a special technique to sideline a state governor. The uselessness of Michoacán’s governor Fausto Vallejo was obvious and unsupportable (translator’s note: the President sent federal troops to Michoacán last week to try to calm an acute dispute between organized crime and the popular militia). To capitalise on the time the president has left in office, the tactic is to swap the issue of violence for the theme of progress.

Other state governors in Mexico – like Veracruz – should take note of what just happened in Michoacán. A new scandal is brewing in Veracruz that will likely hobble the state: the official version of events has cracked under pressure from the victim’s story.

The weekend discovery of two bodies in Veracruz has become immediately notorious because one of those found dead participated in a popular television show. That fact crucially explains why this crime, instead of getting lost in the sea of infinite crimes, has drawn national attention. The fleeting fame enjoyed by one of the victims isn’t the only thing that makes this case different. The father of singer Gibrán David Martiz Díaz made a timely and brave complaint that showed up the so-called state government of Javier Duarte: before the two youths turned up dead, Veracruz state police kidnapped them.

What defies logic is that exactly when these crimes were occurring – the kidnappings happened on Tuesday 7 January – one of the country’s best-informed officials went to Veracruz as the representative of Mexico’s federal government. In a fawning speech, Mexico’s Interior Minister eulogised Veracruz’s security.

At a police graduation on the night of 14 January, Miguel Ángel Osorio Chong emphasized, “today we already have results in Veracruz. There’s a show of force and of promise here. It’s always possible to make speeches but the important thing is the result. What’s said in a speech has to be backed up by facts.” Osorio went even further: “Today I want publicly to recognize the governor for his work. The people of Veracruz long for better security forces, and the governor is making good on his promise. Governor Javier Duarte, you have the federal government’s recognition. I want to end by saying that Veracruz’s accredited state police force provides a benchmark for the transformation of policing in the country. It has turned itself into a secure, trustworthy, efficient force.”

The police force once praised by the Interior Minister as a “benchmark” now finds itself mired in major scandal. And we mustn’t assume that this case in an isolated one. Not in Duarte´s Veracruz.

“Results are the most important thing,” said the man from Bucareli one night in Veracruz. (Translator’s note: Bucareli is the Mexico City street where the Interior Ministry is located.) If Javier Duarte re-reads the words of the country’s security chief, he would know that he’s in trouble. The news of the singer murdered in confusing circumstances hasn’t just shown Duarte up – his government had dismissed the complaints by the singer’s father but now the governor has to investigate his own police officers. The case has also attracted international attention, something President Enrique Peña Nieto did not want just as he arrives in Europe. The sidelining of Michoacán’s governor Fausto Vallejo offers a lesson to all. So let’s see who learns and who doesn’t.

Journalist Salvador Camarena contributes to Spanish newspaper El País and is a columnist for Mexican newspaper, La Razón. You can follow him on Twitter @salcamarena or email him at salvador.camarena@razon.mx. This column appeared in Spanish in La Razón on 22 January 2014 with the title, El Faustazo y Javier Duarte at http://www.razon.com.mx/spip.php?page=columnista&id_article=203219.

Translator Patrick Timmons is a human rights investigator and journalist. He edits mexicanjournalismtranslationproject.wordpress.com. You can follow him on Twitter @patricktimmons.

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A Singer’s Murder Uncovers Police Corruption in Veracruz

Original version published in Spanish by El País on Wednesday 22 January 2014. Translated without permission.

A singer’s murder uncovers police corruption in Veracruz
by Juan Diego Quesada
translated by Patrick Timmons

–        The state government tried to close the case by blaming hit men, but the family alleges police involvement

The recent murder of Gibrán Martiz, a young singer who had just started his musical career, has highlighted the corruption of Veracruz police authorities, a state located just east of Mexico State. The singer was kidnapped in his house and reappeared, five days later, in the inside of a car with a bullet shot to the head. The police said they had found Gibrán’s body in a confrontation with the hit men who had taken him. It was a perfect crime scene. The guilty were dead and the disappeared had appeared, so the police tried to close the case.

Only at the insistence of the singer’s parents — who visited hospitals, police stations, and questioned the neighbors who saw their son kidnapped — are we beginning to know little by little what really happened. After a few days of official blandishments, the Veracruz state government has admitted that the case implicates seven police officers. “The people who took Gibrán and his roommate — also killed — were state officials. We only want to know what really happened, we don’t want a false explanation,” says Erick, by telephone, the brother of the singer who became famous thanks to a popular television reality show, La Voz de México.

Gibrán Martiz, 22 years old, was an unknown local singer until last summer when he won a Televisa competition to promote talented upcoming groups. When the show finished, he decided to go it alone. He had only been in his newly rented apartment in the state’s capital of Xalapa for one day when somebody kidnapped him and his roommate, a seventeen-year old youth. They had just started working together as models. It was 7 January. The family tried to contact them without success for a few days. Relatives became alarmed when they heard Gibrán did not turn up to a nightclub engagement. His brother denounced Gibrán’s disappearance on 12 January via Twitter.

Gibrán’s father, Efraín, went to Xalapa to try to find him. Social media picked up on Gibrán’s disappearance. Celebrities from the entertainment world got involved. His body appeared on 20 January in a remote place called La Ternera after an alleged shootout between police and criminals. The officers conducting the operation said that hit men were in the car, and along with the two bodies of Gibrán and his roommate they also found police uniforms, guns, and bulletproof vests. The officers suggested that the murderers had been passing themselves off as police officers. Veracruz’s attorney general, Felipe Amadeo Flores, accepted this version of events, and publicly broadcast its details.

The singer’s father is convinced they are trying to trick him. His son’s murderers are police officers, he alleges. Or, at the very least that officers played an active part in his death. Neighbors gave him the color and license plates of the car in which Gibrán was kidnapped and when he went to Internal Affairs to file a complaint, he caught sight of the vehicle in the parking structure. “I am not going to run away. I am one of those people who believe that in a war like this you have to put family, cousins, brothers and sons first. For things to change and for the country to improve. And if it’s up to me to find out what happened to my son, then I don’t care,” said the father in the past few days.

Bit by bit the story seems to be unraveling. As a result of the family’s investigations, relatives believe that for one reason or another they abducted two of Gibrán’s young friends. The boys had a history of stealing cars. At one moment, the police took the two boys to the apartment where Gibrán was with his friend. They kidnapped all four youths. The rest of the story is murky. State authorities have neither explained the role played by the police nor the motive for their murders. The only charges are extortion and abusing their official positions.

The Veracruz state government, and specifically Governor Javier Duarte have received harsh criticism for their security policy and the way they administer justice. Regina Martínez, a journalist for the magazine Proceso, who was investigating prickly subjects, was murdered in April 2012. The investigation into her death was accompanied by a campaign to discredit the reporter by covering up any sort of political connection to her murder. A possible culprit was identified later, a drug addict plagued by bad health. In prison he said he was tortured and the reality was that the only proof of his involvement was his own confession. He had to be released. In Gibrán’s case photos have already been circulating on social media showing him brandishing guns and drugs. Nobody seems to know where the photos have come from. In Veracruz, even the victims don’t rest in peace.

Reporter Juan Diego Quesada writes for El País. His original story in Spanish was published as “El asesinato de un cantante destapa la corrupción policial de Veracruz,” available at http://internacional.elpais.com/internacional/2014/01/21/actualidad/1390336606_155354.html.

Translator Patrick Timmons is a human rights investigator and journalist, and founding editor of https://mexicanjournalismtranslationproject.wordpress.com. Follow him on Twitter @patricktimmons.

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