Tag: impunity

The Murder of Mexican Journalists. With Impunity.

Taken from the CPJ:

Mexican journalist found dead with bullet wounds in San Luis Potosí
October 6, 2017 5:29 PM ET
Mexico City, October 6, 2017–Authorities in Mexico must undertake a swift and credible investigation into the murder of photographer Edgar Daniel Esqueda Castro, the Committee to Protect Journalists said today.
A spokesperson from the state attorney general’s office today told CPJ that state authorities found Esqueda Castro’s body this morning, near the airport in the city of San Luis Potosí. His body had three gunshot wounds, the office said.
The journalist’s wife, who CPJ has not named for safety reasons, told CPJ that armed men in police uniform who identified themselves as local police yesterday abducted Esqueda Castro from their home in San Luis Potosí.
She said the group of men, armed with pistols and at least one automatic rifle, broke the window of the front door of the couple’s home and stormed into the room where she and her husband were asleep. The attackers then collected the couple’s cellphones, and took Esqueda Castro away at gunpoint, Esqueda Castro’s wife said.
“Mexican authorities must swiftly investigate the abduction and murder of Edgar Daniel Esqueda Castro, and bring all of those responsible to justice,” said Alexandra Ellerbeck, CPJ’s program coordinator for North America, from New York. “Criminals, sometimes connected with state actors, know that they can get away with killing journalists in Mexico because of chronic impunity for these crimes. Until that changes, the violence will continue.”
The state’s general prosecutor said yesterday in a statement made on social media that the prosecutor’s office is investigating, and denied that state police were involved in the abduction. The prosecutor also said there was no arrest warrant against Esqueda Castro.
Ricardo Sánchez Pérez del Pozo, the Federal Special Prosecutor for Crimes Committed against Freedom of Expression, told CPJ yesterday that his agency had opened a separate investigation.
Esqueda Castro worked as a freelance photographer for the local news websites Metropoli San Luis and Vox Populi, and edited a personal website, Infórmate San Luis. According to Esqueda Castro’s editor at Vox Populi, Gerardo Guillermo Almendariz, Esqueda mostly covered society events, but would sometimes work on crime stories.
Over the past few months, local police had threatened Esqueda Castro while he was reporting, according to both the journalist’s wife and Guillermo Almendariz. On July 13, policemen threatened Esqueda Castro verbally, took pictures of his identification card, which included his address, and told him they were watching his home. Separately, several policemen on July 4 beat Esqueda Castro and threatened to take his camera while the journalist was photographing a shootout scene.
Esqueda Castro reported both incidents to the state authorities, and filed a complaint with the State Human Rights Commission, according to Guillermo Almendariz.
In a statement released this afternoon, the Federal Mechanism for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders and Journalists, a government body that provides protective measures to reporters under threat of violence, confirmed the threats, and stated that it had offered protective measures to Esqueda Castro. According to the protective group, Esqueda Castro refused protection, and said that he received no other threats after the two July incidents.
The journalist’s wife and Guillermo Almendariz confirmed to CPJ on Thursday that Esqueda had not been enrolled in a protection scheme.
Mexico is one the deadliest countries in the Western hemisphere for journalists. In 2017, at least four journalists have been murdered in direct retaliation for their work, according to CPJ research, and CPJ is investigating the circumstances of another killing. CPJ has documented the disappearances of 14 journalists in Mexico, excluding Esqueda Castro. In May, journalist Salvador Adame Pardo was abducted from his home in the Mexican state of Michoacán.

Mexico Still Mourns

I am sorry. I steal this as well, because the world needs to know.

Reforma: Guadalupe Loaeza*
Translated by Danielle M. Antonetti

As I do every year, last Sunday I took my grandchildren to see “The Nutcracker” at the National Theater. Once seated, I gave myself a task: to watch all the people filled with holiday cheer as they entered the theater to admire the last performance of Tchaikovsky’s famous ballet, the music of which is so familiar to us that even the most ignorant can recall a fragment. Most of the attendees were children and adolescents, bundled up and accompanied by their families. The atmosphere inside the enormous auditorium, with space for 10,000 people, was festive and Christmassy.

For my part, I was a deeply gratified grandmother surrounded by my six grandchildren, two of my sons, my daughter-in-law and Paloma Figueroa, the young professional dancer. With that same festive mindset, I watched young grandmothers wearing 100 percent wool coats with furs and carrying Coach or Marc Jacob purses. Many greeted and waved to each other from afar. The show was only minutes away from beginning.

Suddenly, the lights went down and at the stage’s illuminated center appeared a group of young people holding two banners, one with the hashtag #Yamecansé [Enough, I’m tired]** written on it and on the other could be read the words, “Stop impunity.” Daniel Castillo, in evening wear, spoke on behalf of his fellow members of the National Dance Company:

“Mexico is mourning the unsustainable and heartbreaking impunity that has become a daily story and that violates our citizenry.”

With perfect diction, his words echoed all across the auditorium.

A profound silence fell over us. No one moved in their seats, not the children and especially not the adults. The power of Castillo’s words and the audience’s silence united all of us. Castillo, whose image was projected in color on two enormous screens placed on either side of the stage, continued,

“Mexico, we are no longer just mourning the disappeared teacher college students, but those of Aguas Blancas, San Fernando and the children at the ABC nursery***,”

“I want to read a poem written by one of our company members, the ballerina Sonia Jiménez.”

At that moment, and despite my wearing a red sweater, I felt dressed in black from head to toe.

We are mourning,
We are the cry of our dead,
We are the blood shed on fertile land,
We are the silence on the verge of exploding.
Today we do not recognize the ground on which we stand,
The falling rain does not erase the mistakes,
Our eyes don’t wipe away the truth,
We live blindfolded, we have sold-out,
We speak with the breath of our bodies.
Turn off the lights. Mexico is mourning.

As if moved by an gigantic, invisible spring, the public rose to its feet,  “One, two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight, nine…,” until it reached number 43, which they memorialized with their fists raised.
The applause was an enormous and deep expression of our condolences. Everyone was mourning. Everyone felt even more tired than Murillo Karam for all the corruption and impunity. And all of us represented “the cry of our dead.”

I envisioned backstage: 170 dancers of the National Dance Company and the students of the National School of Classical and Contemporary Dance, elegantly dressed as the characters of the ballet’s epoch, applauding. I was imagining the company’s five principal dancers—Agustina Galizzi, Ana Elisa Mena, Mayuko Nihei, Blanca Ríos and Erick Rodríguez—mourning. Those who appeared particularly sad were José Luis González, Mariana Garce and Sofía Villarreal, who that night were saying goodbye to the company, which was celebrating 50 years of putting on the Christmas ballet. Also, I imagined “Clara,” the protagonist of Hoffmann’s tale, the little rodents, the tin soldiers, and the Nutcracker himself mourning, applauding in honor of the 43 disappeared.

“Why did you get so sad all of a sudden, Mamá Lú?, one of my granddaughters asked me.

“Because Mexico continues to mourn,” I replied.

I have the impression that my granddaughter did not understand me. Then, the curtains opened and the show began.
Reforma only allows subscribers to access articles on its website.

*María Guadalupe Loaeza Tovar is a contemporary Mexican writer and author of many books, including Las Niñas Bien [The Good Girls], Las Reinas de Polanco [The Queens of Polanco (wealthy Mexico City neighborhood], Debo, Luego Sufro [I Owe, Therefore, I Suffer] and Compro, Luego Existo [I Shop, Therefore, I Exist], in which she writes ironically about the Mexican upper class. Twitter: @gloaeza
**Reference to offhand remark of Attorney General Murillo Karam at the end of the press conferece at which he announced that arrested members of the Warrriors United cartel confessed they had murdered the 43 Ayotzinapa students and burned their bodies. The remark was immediately turned against him on the social media and in the press.
***Aguas Blancas was the massacre by police of protesting farmers in Guerrero in 1995. San Fernando was the massacre, in 2010, of 72 Central American migrants by the Zetas cartel with the collusion of local police. The ABC nursery fire, in 2009, possibly the result of local officials’ attempt to destroy records in an adjoining store room, resulted in the deaths of 49 infants and young children and the injuring of 70 more.

For Someone Watching Our Cameras from New Hampshire

Regarding the cameras, the one called 1) Jardin (garden) is looking at the green gate on the left. Up a little higher on the left is the door to C’s house. Sometime you may see someone lower a little basket on a string or the just the key, when someone wants to get in. Someday you’ll see a bent white-haired women come out or go into that door. She is B and must have been a great beauty when she was young. I think she’s about 78. We don’t really know the people who come and go from the green gate just below. Right across from C’s door is our garden gate. Higher up, above the green gate is where

Camera 2) “Christina” is located. It looks down the steps from about the level of our garden gate. Our wall on the left stops at some corrugated roof overhang. That is P’s house. She and her son clean, water our plants, and watch over us and our house. They are 110% reliable. On the lower right, you see a white jar cap and the jar beneath it. The bottom has been cut off and it serves to shield a light bulb. The pole next to it is the street lamp. When the latter’s bulb fails, the people behind the green gate turn on the jar light street lamp. On the right a little lower is a vacant lot. At the lower end of the vacant lot is where we were mugged. We are now recovered from that event, although I still carry pepper spray whenever I step out of the house, and we use a bodyguard or taxi to return home at night. The taxi drops us off a S’s store two blocks higher up. Our bodyguard M brings us to our garden gate just above the mugging site.

Camera 3) “Frente” (front) is mounted on the front of our house, upper end, just to the left and above our front door. The door to the left is R’s little tienda (store). During the attack on the police, the latter fled into her tienda, although they were armed. Human rights laws do not permit police firing at attacking youth. To the right of her door, on the left, you see her altar, which is lit up at night. There is a doll-like virgin inside dressed like Marie Antoinette. The blue house on the upper left is where M lives. He is D’s best customer for her children’s books lending enterprise. I pump up soccer balls for him. You will see him hanging out a lot the this area. His parents or parental figures neglect him almost entirely. He is eight or nine. D is like his aunt. You will see some of the gangbangers hanging out here too. They usually wear white baseball caps and white baseball shirts. You may see them selling drugs. When they are high on paint thinner and other stuff, they stagger around with jerky-jivy movements.

Camera 4) Tienda” (store) is mounted on R’s store, to the right of her door. It shows our front door on the green-gray wall on the right. On that wall, you can see a French cave horse and an antelope which I drew in chalk, along with M and his friend J, in a demonstration of mural drawing. In a recent confrontation with the gang mothers (molls), one of them pointed to my animals and said, “Look, you make graffiti, too.” Beyond our door, there is a slight overhang separating the wall from the old rock wall below. At the end of that, C and A’s house begins. C and D form the Nr. 2 Women’s Detective Agency. Because they don’t like to walk up the alley in front of their door when the gangbangers and their friends are out drinking and acting out, we have cut a hole between their roof and our terrace. They now have a key to our garden gate across from C’s door visible in camera 2) and can pass through our garden, climb the steps to our terrace, step through the new gap in the wall and reach their azotea (roof), from which stairs lead down into their house.

I hope that helps those of you who are watching from thousands of miles away. We have not heard anything from the police about any of the events. I read a graph recently showing that 25% of crimes are reported and 2% are prosecuted in Mexico. Very, very few result in convictions—the theory being that this kind of impunity has led to a great rise in delinquency.

An Open Letter to the Disappointed Youth of Mexico

To the disappointed youth of Mexico, I would say this: Do not be too discouraged. The election of Miguel Ángel Mancera in Mexico City indicates the possibility of advance toward democratic principles—even though much of the rest of the country–like a bird confused by the TV monopolies’ hissed reassurances–appears to have hopped straight into the snake’s mouth.

And who is this snake? That is a good question. I think of the Stalinists–secret police (NKVD and GPU) and other kinds of trained forces–that poured into Spain in 1936 during the Spanish Civil War. They did not really come to support a socialist democratic revolution (POUM). Under the pretense of fighting fascism (Franco), they came to execute the leaders of the POUM and to stifle efforts toward land reform and workers’ rights.

The Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI) is certainly institutional, and it is supported by an ideology–but one that is more counter-revolutionary than revolutionary. In that way, they are like much of the Church. In the face of illiteracy and ignorance, they look the other way.

Instead, the job of the PRI is to support a top-down patronage culture, where the spoils (the public coffers) are shared among them as deserved booty. The concept of the public good attracts minimal attention. They feel no obligation to institute an excellent public education, public libraries, a strong and protected judiciary, the rule of law, nor a commitment to job creation, with a living wage. (These sound like some of the deficiencies of another country I know north of the border.)

The PRI, at the top, is part of a vast club with interlocking arrangements, the main agreement among members being that they will harvest the riches of the country, non-members will not. This club admits a variety of cousins: drug cartels, the conservative wing of the Church, predatory banking and various all-powerful monopolies. One could argue that the cartels’ structure and goals have become increasingly indistinguishable from those of government.

As my friend says, there is a little PRI person inside each of us. By which he means, I think, in one way or another we all join the patronage club and take our payoffs. We will all go along, we say. That’s the way it is, we say. Maybe the leaders–in spite of their graft, impunity and corruption—will take care of things after all. Please keep the peace, be reasonable, work it out, keep bandits off the freeways, give us a little democracy, things will improve, it’s alright as long as the violence doesn’t touch us.

Going along with the PRI (and the other parties as variations of the PRI) means, as another friend says, recognizing our learned helplessness in the face of the social and political disfunction that surrounds us: the schools, the infrastructure, the police, the lack of the rule of law, the failure to create jobs–and the fear. We live with the fear that is everywhere, on the surface, below the surface. You know the images. I don’t need to describe them.

We accept the feudal arrangement. Why else would we accept living in a city where the local newspapers do not have a letters section similar to that of La Jornada or The New York Times? There is also a little PRI in the newspaper editors. It does not occur to them that there should be a public forum, a place where citizens can comment on the social and political functioning of the city–without censorship; and most importantly, without the reaction of their indifference.

A public letter section is a daily section in the newspaper where citizens can bring attention to those who are failing in their social responsibility. Where they can ask: Why are there no city campaigns that explain the deeply anti-social nature of graffiti? Why does so little learning go on in the public schools and even the university? Why are there children in the streets selling chicles (cliclets)? Why do oversized buses still grind and roar through the narrow streets? Why do the streets belong to the petty gangsters and muggers after dark? Why is there no work? Why are there so few European-style city playgrounds for children? Where did the money go that should be available for a trained and adequate police force? Who controls the open space surrounding the city, and how did they come to control it?

It is true you can go to the Presidencia (the city government) on certain days to ask these questions, but that is not a truly public forum–if you can be ignored or treated with indifference. Such a response is not possible with an open, public letter. The public reads it; it cannot be ignored, a kind of political shaming occurs: “Some one is not meeting their social responsibility. Why is that? What did you think elected office was for?” The public nature of the letter gives the citizen a moral, social, and political leverage that is otherwise not available.

A public letter breaks through the wall of impunity and indifference. The citizen is not just helplessly accepting the top-down social disfunctionality. All of which makes the public letter profoundly democratic—and profoundly dangerous. Letter writing is a form of journalist commentary, and journalism is dangerous in this country, as we all know.

That is why I think the public letter, as metaphor and as actual event, in some cases should be employed anonymously, or as a group: Yo soy 132, Wikileaks, Anonymous, and OWS (Occupy Wall Street) are examples. The guerrilla commentator does not expose himself or herself to confrontation with club-wielding goons. For safety, and if there is no other recourse, perhaps a guerrilla commentator should slap public letters on the oversized buses as they pass, that say: “Why aren’t you addressing the city graffiti?” Using non-permanent paper graffiti to expose the city fathers’ indifference to graffiti.

Ironically, the narcos use public letter (mantas, banners and signs of the most hideous kind, attached to corpses) to get their messages across. How else will they explain their carnage, if there are no public forums? Perhaps it means they are open to talking to us non-violent citizens. They too should be addressed in public letters and asked: What are you doing to make the streets cleaner and safer? What are you doing to have Mexico surpass Finland in public education? Or are you, like the PRI (and the other parties) and the monopolists simply interested in profit and domination of the public space, the zóccalo, the plaza–and indifferent to your own social responsibility?

Change starts with the little PRI inside all of us and with the question: What is our own social responsibility? How can we make the streets cleaner and safer in our neighborhood? How can we help the youth put down the paint thinner sniffing and pick up a book? How can we make our leaders stop sniffing indifference and pick up social responsibility?

And, of course, the public letter, once initiated as a social activity, must be protected in some cases by anonymity, if that’s what it takes in order to protect the letter writer from the threat of violence, actual violence and retaliation in the form of debilitating libel law suits (made easy by lingering Napoleonic Law) by the powerful and wealthy who do not like to see their impunity embarrassed.

As a recent New Yorker article by William Finnegan points out in the June 25, 2012 edition, the systems hides behinds layers of pantallas (veils, screens). To lift the veils and expose the system and change it, the citizen letter writer has to get busy. One way to start is with “AM” at: repensamiento@periodico.am. They said they were interested in what you think of their new format. I think I would ask why there is no section called “Letters to the Editor.”