Juárez family’s triple tragedy highlights Mexico impunity
CIUDAD JUAREZ, Mexico (AP) - A daughter is found dismembered. Her mother is shot dead trying to bring the killer to justice. Two days later, a brother-in-law’s body is dumped on the street after his lumber business is torched.
No one is under arrest for any of the crimes, and there is little hope the cases will be solved. The tragedies befalling an extended family in Ciudad Juarez lay bare the lawlessness that plagues not only Mexico’s most violent city, but the entire country.
The case of Marisela Escobedo Ortiz, slain last week as she demanded justice for her dead daughter outside the Chihuahua state governor’s office, has gripped the country. President Felipe Calderon, kidnap victim Diego Fernandez de Cevallos and even the Sinaloa drug cartel have all weighed in; Fernandez de Cevallos spoke about Escobedo just hours after he was released by his captors Monday from his own seven-month ordeal.
“Marisela’s family is not an isolated case. … It’s the situation we’re living in Juarez,” Castro said. “Families have had to leave Juarez, just like Marisela’s family, because of the threats, extortion, killings … and disappearances that have made the state of Chihuahua a total failure.”
The lawlessness continues as both Mexico’s efforts to reform its justice system and Calderon’s cleanup plan for police have fallen short.
Less than 5 percent of crimes in Juarez are even investigated, according to local civic leaders working on a security round table. Records obtained by The Associated Press show that last year, when 2,600 people were killed in Ciudad Juarez, prosecutors filed 93 homicide cases and got 19 convictions. This year the number of homicides has exceeded 3,000.
Chihuahua, the northern state where Ciudad Juarez is located, was among the first to adopt Mexico’s judicial reform, moving from closed, written proceedings to oral trials and a system that puts the burden of proof on prosecutors.
But it was in Chihuahua that three state judges ordered the freeing of Barraza, who confessed to the killing and led police to Frayre’s burned and dismembered body. During the trial, he proclaimed his innocence and claimed he had been tortured into confessing. One of the judges ruled in April that prosecutors failed to present material evidence against him.
He’s now the chief suspect in Escobedo’s slaying as well.
Human rights activists hang a sign on the wall of the state prosecutors office to protest the killing of Marisela Escobedo Ortiz in Ciudad Juarez, Mexico, Friday Dec. 17, 2010. (AP Photo/Raymundo Ruiz)