Tiny body, big heart

July 19, 2011

Must be seen to be believed: a chihuahua terrorizes shotgun-wielding robbers…

That’s going to make those thugs’ reputation back in the ‘hood.

Good doggie! 

PS: Of course, as anyone knows, a cat would just have gone full-auto.

UPDATE: The diminutive tough-guy’s name is “Paco,” and he’s now a TV star.

(Crossposted at Sister Toldjah)

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)

Mexican town resorts to mob justice

September 24, 2010

With the authorities unable to protect them, the residents of a small town in the state of Chihuahua that has suffered an average of three kidnappings per week finally had enough:

Ascension is a farming community of some 15,000 people, about 100 miles south of the border with New Mexico. In the past two years, kidnapping and extortion have been rampant.

“Our problems with public security have spoiled our progress in this town,” says Rafael Camarillo, the outgoing mayor.

The public fury happened Tuesday when an armed group allegedly kidnapped a 16-year-old girl from her family’s seafood restaurant. The kidnappers escaped down a gravel road, and word of the missing girl spread quickly.

Soon, a group of about 200 residents began the chase. Three of the alleged kidnappers were captured by the Mexican military, who have a presence in the town.

Three others fled into a nearby cotton field, where one was later found dead. The other two were hunted down and beaten by the mob from Ascension.

“When they found them, it was a direct aggression,” says Ignacio Rodriguez, a local kitchen-cabinet maker who was elected to head city council next month.

The girl was rescued unharmed by the residents.

Two of the kidnappers were taken by federal police to a nearby Mexican Army base, but the mob wasn’t done with them: they stormed the base, seized the kidnappers, and locked them in a hot car until they died.

Let’s be blunt: these three deaths were acts of murder. But it is both hard to sympathize with the victims and not hard to sympathize with the townsfolk. What are they supposed to do when their own government can’t or won’t protect them? The local force was so useless that the Mayor of Ascension fired them all after this incident. Corruption is rampant in the local, state, and federal police forces. At some point, the people are left with a choice: wait like sheep to be slaughtered  or fight back. The people of Ascenscion made their choice.

Of course, fighting back against teenaged kidnappers is one thing, but striking back at heavily armed, ruthless cartels is another altogether. Mexico’s gun laws are very strict, so law-abiding citizens are effectively disarmed from the start. Yet the presence of such laws implies a clause in the social contract: in return for not bearing arms, the state promises to protect its citizens. If the government cannot do this, then the contract is broken and the state loses legitimacy. Society reverts to a state of nature and residents are forced to take justice into their own hands.

While Mexico is not yet a failed state and may never become one, the incidents at Ascension are nevertheless further signs of a fraying social fabric that, unmended, could one day fall apart.

(Crossposted at Sister Toldjah)

UPDATE: A newspaper in New Mexico sees similar dangers.