February 21, 2017
Mexico City’s Museum of Anthropology and History is world-renowned for its collection of Aztec and Mayan art, and for exhibitions on the modern culture of Mexico’s indigenous peoples. But on February 21, the museum provided the backdrop for an unprecedented modern ceremony: an official act of apology delivered to three indigenous women by representatives of the the federal prosecutor’s office, the Procuraduría General de la República (PGR), for the violation of their human rights.
The three women, Alberta Alcántara, Jacinta Francisco Marcial, and Teresa González, are members of the Hñä-Hñú (Otomí) people. In addition to the formal apology, they will also receive financial compensation for the wrongful prosecution and imprisonment they suffered over a decade ago at the hands of federal police and prosecutors in their home state of Querétaro. Their story, now nationally known, has also raised fundamental and still unresolved questions about the role and accountability of the PGR in Mexico’s criminal justice system.
The three women were first arrested and unlawfully detained in August 2006, four months after a fracas erupted in the marketplace of the town of Santiago Mexquititlán after the police tried to seize goods from indigenous vendors. All three women were falsely charged with the kidnapping of six federal police officers during the trouble (even though one of the accused—Jacinta Francisco Marcial—was attending mass and visiting the local pharmacy at the time of the alleged crime). The three were tried and convicted without the Hñähñu translator they should have been provided with under the law. Despite the lack of evidence against them, they were each sentenced to 21 years in prison.
It took three years of legal challenges by Centro Prodh, a leading Mexican human rights group, to secure the women’s release, and the overturning of the charges against them. Along the way, the case became emblematic of the failures of Mexico’s justice system to offer equitable access to justice to indigenous people.
December 15, 2016
On Tuesday a group of masked men kidnapped at gunpoint Anabela Carlon Flores, a lawyer for the Yaqui tribe, who are facing increasingly violent repression in their fight against the cross-border Agua Prieta pipeline in Northern Mexico.
Anabela Carlon Flores told reporters she was driving with her husband to a community meeting in the Yaqui community of Bacum on Tuesday at approximately 7 p.m. when their car was stopped by a group of armed masked men. She and her husband were blindfolded and put in another car where the human rights lawyer was told to “stop fucking around.” She was later dropped on the outskirts of nearby Ciudad Obregon, while the kidnappers held on to her husband, Isabel Lugo Molina, who remains captive. Carlon Flores said she fears for his life.
The incident is the latest in a series of escalating attacks on members of the Yaqui Tribe who are opposing the construction of the Texas-based Sempra Energy pipeline project, which aims to bring natural gas from Arizona to the Mexican state of Sonora, crossing Yaqui territory.
December 2, 2016
A 60-year-old man has been sentenced to two life sentences in federal prison for his part in the brazen 2013 murder of a Mexican cartel lawyer at a Southlake shopping center.
Jose Luis Cepeda-Cortes, a Mexican citizen, had been convicted in May on single counts of interstate stalking, conspiracy to commit murder for hire and tampering with documents or proceedings.
On Thursday, U.S. District Judge Terry R. Means sentenced Cepeda-Cortes to two life sentences as well as a 20-year sentence to run concurrently.
The man’s 60-year-old cousin, Jesus “Chuy” Gerardo Ledezma-Cepeda, is expected to be sentenced Tuesday.
Ledezma-Cepeda was also convicted in May on single counts of interstate stalking and conspiracy to commit murder for hire. He faces up to a life sentence and a $250,000 fine on each count.
Ledezma-Cepeda’s son, 33-year-old Jesus Gerardo Ledezma-Campano, had pleaded guilty in March to one count of interstate stalking. He was sentenced in August to 20 years in prison.
August 26, 2015
A tribunal has sentenced two men to 22 years in prison in the killing of a pair of prominent Juárez lawyers last year, the Chihuahua attorney general’s office said.
Oscar Adrian Martinez Martinez, 26, alias “El Batres,” and Humberto Alejandro “El Demond” Ramirez Talamantes, 21, were convicted in the shooting deaths of lawyers Salvador Guillermo Urbina Quiroz and Cesar Cordero Gutierrez inside Urbina’s law office in Juárez on May 26, 2014, officials said.
Prosecutors said that a security camera filmed Martinez enter the law office and take out a handgun while Ramirez waited by the door. Ramirez was the driver of the getaway car, officials said.
MAZATLÁN._ Un reclamo de justicia por el asesinato de la joven abogada Susana Suárez Martínez, registrado el viernes por la noche, demandó el gremio de litigantes en el puerto.
José Trinidad Tirado Olvera, integrante del Colegio de Abogados “Marco Antonio Arroyo Camberos”, y ex director de la Policía Municipal de Mazatlán, pidió que no haya “chivos expiatorios” en la investigación, y que se atrape a los responsables.
“La Procuraduría se ve presionada a presentar resultados, y a veces nos hemos dado cuenta de casos de detenciones que dejan duda, si en realidad es o no es el responsable. Este hecho es indignante”, precisó.