Tamaulipas Governor Egidio Torre came into office on New Year’s Day vowing to fight the corruption and criminal violence tearing his state apart. One of his first acts was to appoint retired general Manuel Farfán as police chief of Nuevo Laredo, just across the border from Laredo, Texas, and one of Mexico’s most violent cities.
Less than a month into his job, Chief Farfán was shot dead on the streets of his city:
Gunmen killed the recently appointed police chief of Nuevo Laredo late Wednesday in a brazen response to the new governor’s vow to restore order to the violent Mexican state bordering south Texas and the Rio Grande.
Manuel Farfán, 55, a retired army brigadier general, was shot down on a downtown street shortly before midnight. At least one of the general’s police bodyguards and his personal secretary also were killed.
Farfán was one of 11 retired army generals recently named to head municipal police departments across Tamaulipas state. He took office with the change of city and state governments on Jan. 1.
Upon taking office New Year’s Day, Tamaulipas Gov. Egidio Torre had vowed that his government would put an end to the state’s “cruel, unjust and difficult” wave of violence.
“The people of Tamaulipas want to trust again,” said Torre, who was elected following last June’s assassination by gangsters of his brother, the gubernatorial candidate of the state’s long ruling party.
“We are going to diminish violence at its root causes and extinguish impunity,” he said.
Aside from expressing condolences to Farfán’s survivors and dispatching the commander of the state police – also a retired army general – neither Torre nor other senior Tamaulipas officials commented on the assassination Thursday.
The killing is comment enough: one theory is that Chief Farfán refused to be bought or or play along with the Zeta cartel, whose “territory” Nuevo Laredo is, and they decided to show what happens. Another is that he was killed by the Gulf Cartel, which is at “war” with its former vassals and may have considered the Chief a threat to their efforts to take Nuevo Laredo back.
The killing of Chief Farfán is just the latest sign of the breakdown of the rule of law in Mexico, but he, at least, made it almost a month; in 2005, Nuevo Laredo Chief Dominguez was killed just hours after being appointed. As the article mentions, the entire police force of one small town near Monterrey quit after two of its officers were beheaded, and the police chief of Cancún was tortured and killed in 2009 by one of his own men, who was in the pay of the local cartel. Local and state police officers are either intimidated, corrupted, or assassinated. As I’ve said before, when the State can’t even protect its own, words such as “sovereignty” and “rule of law” are meaningless.
It’s small wonder that some colleges are canceling their study-abroad programs in Mexico.
(Crossposted at Sister Toldjah)