Friday, August 22, 2008

How to live in Mexico. Part 1 (of several).

A few weeks ago, a 14-yr-old boy was found dead in the trunk of an abandoned car, in a neighborhood 5-min drive from where I live now. The smell emanating from the car alerted the neighbors that something was wrong; later on, the autopsy revealed that in fact, the boy had been murdered at least one month before it was found. His face was so bloated, he had to be identified by his teeth. He turned out to be the son of one of the most important men in the sports industry in Mexico: Alejandro Martí, of the Martí sport shops that nowadays dominate the sale of sports-related products. Being the son of a very wealthy man in a city like Mexico City, Fernando Martí had to be accompanied by an escort at all times. Not only that, his father had hired a personal driver for him too. Fernando Martí, escort and all, was kidnapped a while ago. A large sum of money (approx. 3 million dollars) was being demanded to set the boy free. So, in order to put pressure on the family to deliver the ransom, the kidnappers abandoned a first car with the dead body of Fernando´s driver and the unconscious escort, who was alive thanks to his losing consciousness while one of the kidnappers had tried to asfixiate him. Fernando´s parents were able to collect the ransom money almost right away, and delivered it in accordance with the kidnapper´s instructions. However, the kidnappers murdered the boy.

In the weeks following the finding of Fernando Martí´s body, the mass media in Mexico began a huge coverage of the case (while before finding the body, the media had kept an incredible silence about the kidnapping).

The mexican president, as well as other important political figures in our country mourned the death of young Fernando Martí (they conveniently ommitted Fernando´s driver in their lament, and forgot that his family, as the Martí family, deserved a few condolences too). Voices of politicians, religous men, intellectuals, sports people, etc. have gradually joined the clamour, so now almost all of us feel deeply moved by the events, and have become very angry at the mere mention of the word “kidnapping” or “kidnapper”. The media works wonders on the collective mind. A firm reaction had to be presented in opposition to the rise in criminal actions throughout the country. Fernando´s kidnapping and murder was the tip of the iceberg, or so they claimed. However, our politicians had failed to raise their indignation when 5 different indigenous women in ages ranging 40-75 yr-old, had appeared semi-naked and with traces of sexual abuse and physical violence in different rural areas of southern Mexico in the past year and a half, or when several indigenous men and women had been “kidnapped” throughout the same region (no ransom was demanded for them, because they had been practically erased from the face of the earth, and today are considered as missing people) due to their participation in several protest movements.

Our president reacted inmensely to the death of a boy who belonged to one of the richest families in Mexico. In that respect, he behaved as the governor of Veracruz state when he publicly mourned the murder of a young girl who happened to be niece to one of the most important bishops in the state, and forgot to mourn the “natural” death of Susana Xocohua Tezoco, a 42-year old indigenous woman who one day appeared semi-naked, legs spread wide, and with visible traces of physical violence, in a field in the Zongolica mountains of Veracruz. The local authorities said they performed an autopsy which revealed that Susana had died due to an infection of the pancreas.

Anyway, our president´s reaction to the death of Fernando Martí was to raise the penalty for kidnapping to the maximum sentence possible: life imprisonment. That was all he had to say... up to that moment. It was his way of ending a long chain of criminal events that had drained the mexican people. In the days after his public reaction, again politicians, religious men, intellectuals, etc. demanded that a more thoughtful answer should be given to really deal with the increase in criminal violence throughout Mexico. The scene was being set for all of those interested in maintaining their political position. Finally, only a few days ago, the president convened a meeting of the National Security Council in Mexico City to be held on Thursday 21st of august, that is, yesterday. Conveniently enough, only a few hours before the meeting was set to start (at around 7am Mexico time), a judge sentenced Ignacio del Valle Medina to 45 years of prison on top of his previous sentence of 67 years. Del Valle is leader of a political movement that back in may 2006 had fought to defend a huge piece of land in the neighbor state of Mexico from the federal and the state government, both interested in building a new airport. Back in those days, the main problem for the government was to appropriate the land that was going to be destined for the construction of the airport, that is, to take it away from the true owners. Because the owners, plus hundreds of other people living in the area, had organised themselves to resist the attempt, the state and federal forces of repression (that is, the police) were sent out to San Salvador Atenco –the village that was in the middle of the turmoil-... to force the people of Atenco to surrender and hand out their land, through bloodshed and terror. On the 3rd and 4th of May, 2006, hundreds of innocent people were beaten and raped by the police forces (women and men alike); one young boy who was walking back home from school was shot “accidentally”, dying instantly, and a young man died when a teargas shell hit him on the head. Lots of people, no matter their age or physical state, were packed inside police trucks, literally like pigs, and taken to several jails throughout the state. The ride on the “trucks of hell” was horrible: women were psychologically and sexually abused in front of their friends, men were beaten, raped, and insulted. All of them, including Ignacio del Valle, ended up in prison. Two years from the events, many of them have fortunately been set free. However, a few of them remain inside. And some of them, like del Valle, could never be free again. They were mis-charged with tons of crimes, including kidnapping. In Mexico, kidnapping involves the explicit demand for a ransom. However, neither Ignacio del Valle, nor the others, truly kidnapped anyone!

Today, and only because people like Fernando Martí are dead, our president, along with many other politicians, want to see people like Ignacio del Valle in prison for life. For what? For being committed to defending the land from economical ambitions? For putting at risk the credibility of our extreme right wing government? The true criminals, those who steal our tax money, those who kidnap our freedom to think and to act, those who condemn us for not thinking like the majority, are themselves, the politicians of Mexico. The others, the ones who kidnap important and rich people, the drug lords, the murderers (accidental or true murderers), they walk out of prison easily by paying money or because the politicians themselves work their ways to set them free.

For them, the joys of freedom.

For political movement leaders, forced “kidnappings”, torture, life prison.

Such is the way of in-justice in a country like Mexico.

1 comment:

Jihad said...

Wow. Strong story. Sad to see Mexico in such a state.