The Bullet of Impunity

Translated by Yaqui for Borderland Beat from: El País

By: Javier Garza Ramos, Torreón, Coahuila.
June 18, 2018

The bullet that killed Fernando Purón Johnston , PRI candidate for federal deputy in Piedras Negras, Coahuila on Friday, June 8, was the same one used six days earlier, on June 2, that killed Pamela Terán Pineda, candidate for councilor El Juchitán , Oaxaca, and Juana Maldonado Infante, candidate for local deputy in Jopala, Puebla .
The same bullet was used the next day, on Saturday June 9, which wounded Rosely Magaña, candidate for councilor in Isla Mujeres, Quintana Roo, who died 72 hours later. And it was the same bullet that killed Alejandro Chávez, candidate for mayor of Taretan, Michoacán on Thursday, June 14th.
This same bullet  has killed 44 pre-candidates and candidates for election and other 70 officials and political figures in this election process. No ballistic proof is needed to sustain the claim, just follow the path of the bullet of impunity.

Fernando Purón Johnston, PRI Candidate and former Mayor of Piedras Negras, Coahuila

The person who ordered Purón’s murder probably knew that nothing was going to happen to him, because nothing happened to Terán’s murderer , and he knew that Salado’s murderer had nothing happen to him and so goes back in time the long thread of impunity.

I get the impression that we already saw this movie. The sequence of candidates killed in the current electoral process in Mexico is very similar to the list of dozens of journalists killed in Mexico in the last decade. A succession of crimes that alarm at first, but have become normalized.
Candidates and journalists are two high-risk groups in Mexico. Of course, they are not the only ones, they are only two subgroups of rampant unabated  violence that last year averaged 20 victims a day  and of which there is no end in sight.
While the motive of each murder is particular, in the case of journalists and candidates, a common thread unites them in that the victims may have touched powerful interests that prefer to use violence to end threats because they live in a country with a broken rule of law. Violence is a cheap, fast and easy remedy to perceived threats to institutions.
Throughout this succession of crimes there are those who warn about the gestation of an epidemic but their voices are drowned because nothing ever happens, until a high-profile case arrives that causes greater impact, which raises the volume of the complaints, although the increasing demand for sentencing does not end up solving anything.
The “strong condemnation” that we hear from the authorities is just a placebo that shows its inefficiency. Worse yet, when those high-profile cases are registered in the highest spheres of authority, after having ignored dozens of other cases, things are only  likely to get worse.
Fernando Purón was the highest-profile candidate killed in the current electoral process, as he was the first candidate to hold a federal election position, while the previous candidates had been candidates for local positions in small municipalities.

Secretary of Labor Roberto Campa

His death was the first that merited the presence of a member of the cabinet of President Enrique Peña Nieto at the funeral. The Secretary of Labor, Roberto Campa, traveled to Piedras Negras as the presidential representative, but also with the same common promises to deliver justice.

Something similar happened with the case of Javier Valdez, the highest profile journalist killed in Mexico in recent years.

Javier Valdez, award winning and internationally known Journalist and Author of several books

 A year ago, when Javier Valdez was gunned down in Culiacán, Peña Nieto spoke for the first time about the murder of a journalist, after having ignored 35 previous crimes committed during his six-year term . The president brought together the security cabinet and the governors, issued instructions to strengthen the protection of journalists and promised that the killing would not go unpunished.
A year later, two of the three men who attacked Valdez on May 15, 2017 have been detained, but accused only of the material authorship of the crime, because until now the intellectual authors enjoy the same impunity enjoyed by those responsible for dozens of previous murders.
It is easy to conclude that if the murder of a nationally and internationally recognized journalist provoked the reaction of the same President of the Republic but the crime still goes unpunished, anyone who is thinking of killing a lesser-known journalist than Javier Valdez can reasonably think he or she will get away with it.
In fact, there were already some who thought about it: in 2017 six more journalists were killed after Javier Valdez and at least four so far in 2018.
Mexican police Mexican Citizens take to the streets to demand Justice and Freedom of the Press after their beloved brave truth-telling journalists continue to be murdered.
That is why Roberto Campa’s presence at Purón’s funeral involves a challenge in itself: if the murder of a candidate that merited this level of attention is unpunished the fate of others is already cast.
The impunity in the homicide of Purón also carries another risk because it threatens to throw overboard the pacification that the State of Coahuila has had in the last years and in particular the northern zone of the state,  in Piedras Negras, ie, where Purón  was mayor from 2014 to 2017, a period in which state and federal operatives managed to dismantle the power of Los Zetas, who waged a reign of terror in the area during the previous decade .
The infamous prison near Piedras Negras, Coahuila that Los Zetas turned into a Base of Operations and many call a death camp. The death toll will probably never be known.
Unlike previous municipal administrations, that of Purón did not succumb to the control of Los Zetas. That had been one of the focal points of his speech and it is now one of the lines of investigation into his murder.
It was during the years that Purón was mayor when Piedras Negras managed to overcome the trauma of the massacres and disappearances that have been documented with horrifying detail by El Colegio de México, the government of Coahuila and the Executive Commission for Victim Assistance.
 Piedras Negras has made such a remarkable recovery that in the latest surveys of urban security by the National Institute of Geography and Statistics, Piedras Negras appeared among the cities with a better perception of security, data that resulted from the mayoral work of the now dead candidate.
Just a week ago, Pablo Ferri published in this newspaper the chronicle of a trip through Coahuila that ended precisely in Piedras Negras. Noting the horror of recent years, the story also showed a semblance of quiet normalcy within political campaigns.
Two days after the text was published, the story completely changed to one that we already know all too well.
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