Her “crime” was to demand justice for her daughter

December 18, 2010

Marisela Escobedo Ortiz’s daughter Rubi was murdered last year. No, “murdered” is too clean, too antiseptic a word. Her daughter, 17, was burned to death, her corpse was cut up into chunks, and the remains were thrown into a dumpster by her cartel-member boyfriend.

And the Chihuahua state courts let him go, citing a lack of evidence, even though he had confessed. (A confession he later recanted.)

So Rubi’s mother campaigned for over a year for justice for her daughter, until, just two days ago, she was gunned down by the man accused of murdering her child:

The brutal killing of activist Marisela Escobedo Ortiz stunned people across Mexico, and a group of women angrily demanding justice gathered outside the state prosecutors’ office in this border city, where the victim’s daughter was killed.

Escobedo’s slaying “shows that in Mexico, it is the victim who suffers,” anti-crime activist Alejandro Marti said.

The uproar resulted in the suspension of three state judges who had ordered the freeing of the main suspect in the slaying of Escobedo Ortiz’s daughter — the same man who was identified as a chief suspect in the mother’s death.

The vicious nature of the killing — which was caught on a security camera and broadcast repeatedly on national television — added to the anger. The video shows masked men pull up in a car Thursday night in front of the governor’s office in Chihuahua city, the capital of Chihuahua state, where Ciudad Juarez is located.

One man appeared to exchange words with Escobedo Ortiz, who tried to flee by running across the street. The gunman chased her down and shot her in the head, said Jorge Gonzalez, special state prosecutor for crime prevention.

A spokesman for the state attorney general’s office, Carlos Gonzalez, said investigators believe one of the gunmen was Sergio Barraza, who had been the main suspect in the killing of Escobedo’s 17-year-old daughter. He was absolved by a court in April for lack of evidence.

Supposedly Escobedo Ortiz was being protected by Chihuahua state security police, which leaves open the question of where in God’s name they were when Barraza attacked her. Mexican state police forces have a bad reputation for corruption and it is not hard to imagine a few payoffs and/or threats working their magic here and in the trial court that freed this swine*, though incompetence may explain the trial result, too.

Regardless, northern Mexico is increasingly looking like a land where government authority counts for little, if anything. When a cry for justice earns one nothing but a bullet in the head, why should anyone place faith in the government’s promises of security?

This is one more marker on the road to state failure in Mexico, and the Mexican government had better do something before they reach its end.

*I probably owe an apology to the pigs of the world for the comparison.

via Cubachi.

UPDATE: Just days after Escobedo Ortiz’s murder, her husband’s business is destroyed by arsonists.

(Crossposted at Sister Toldjah)

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