By - Luis Javier Valero Flores
“I am not obstinate, but I asked your father to let me move the kitchen into the living room. And he said to me: “woman, in all the houses the first room in the house is the living room”, I insisted and put the sink in the big window that looks out over the street, where I now wash the dishes. I could not tell him that in this place, daily, I look out the window, where one day I hope to see you return. This is the reason for the change, so I could wash the dishes and hide my weeping then my tears mix with the water and go down the drain”. Martina Albeldado, in a letter that she wants to give to her daughter.
Four years after her disappearance, finally, after carrying out the DNA examination, the office of the judge advocate general confirmed that the remains of a woman, found - accidentally, in the same place and the day after discovering the body believed to be that of Neyra Cervantes in 2003- in the outskirts of Chihuahua City, in an area known as the "Cuernos de la Luna", correspond to Minerva Torres Albeldaño.
During almost two years, the authorities hid the discovery of this body. They did not lack reasons. If they revealed the discovery, the accusation against David Meza, the cousin of Neyra, who came to the city to participate in the search for her, would fall apart. Then the Attorney General would not have reason to also accuse David Meza of the murder of Minerva Torres.
Worse, the government of Patricio (Governor until last year), upon announcing this second body, would be obligated to accept the existence of an assassin or a groups of assassins who, at least hypothetically, would be responsible for some of the other crimes committed in the state capital. At the least, they would have to admit to the inefficiency of the Attorney Generals office that hid the magnitude of a tragedy that is evident to the whole world.
The certification that the remains are that of Minerva Torres is the confirmation of the existence of a world of irregularities – a majority of which are diverse crimes committed by civil servants of the previous administration. Crimes committed not to elucidate who are guilty of the femicides that happened in Chihuahua , but to try to hide the existence of the problem. To sweep the problem under the rug was the slogan of the previous government in the matter of murders of women, and, probably in many of the cases of crimes, a similar thing happened.
While the attention of the world was centered in the murders of Juárez, in Chihuahua a chillingly familiar pattern was occurring in terms of the number of missing and assassinated women. There also is a nonexistence of previous, demonstrable bonds, between the victim and her victimizer.
Serial killer or no, the important thing is that in these femicides, by chance, by coincidence, or by unknown reason, the assassin one day, chose a young women to kidnap, to rape, to assassinate and to throw her body some place. It is probable that he already had knowledge of her, by the area that the victims frequented. It could also be some individual that by his activity had some connection with the victims, but what is important in this case is, unfortunately, to separate these femicides from those that are committed by husbands or ex-husbands against their partners.
The femicide victims in Chihuahua are not few. In 1999, Leticia Norm Holguín Moon,16 disappeared February 27th in downtown, from a central bus-stop on the Ninos Heroes Avenue. She was found dead, strangled, on March 24th. On May 4, 2000 Miriam Cristina Galician Venegas disappeared. The 11th of the same month, 14 year-old Jaquelín Cristina Sanchez Hernandez disappeared. Her body was found on the following day at kilometer marker 14 by the side of the highway to Juárez.
The year 2001 was terrifying. On the 22 nd of February, 16 year-old Rosalba Pizarro Ortega, disappeared from downtown. Four days later, the same thing happened to Yesenia Concepción Vega Márquez , 16 years old. On Wednesday, March 7 th , Julieta Marlén González Valenzuela, of 17. also disappeared after boarding an urban bus at the corner of Ninos Heroes and Fifth Street. Less than one week later, Tuesday, March 13 th, Minerva Teresa Albeldaño Torres, 18 disappeared practically from the same place.
Friday, the 23 rd of March, 2001 , 16 years old Erika Ivonne Ruiz Zavala disappeared. Her body was found on June 29 th , nude, half-buried, in a grave in the municipal graveyard. Two of her fingers were mutilated . The State police said that she died of an overdose. They sent her body for secret burial when the crime was discovered.
There followed a hiatus, but on December 11 th , 20 year-old Erika Noemi Carillo Enriquez, student at the Technological College, disappeared on her way to the supermarket, along the highway to Cuauhtémoc. Three months later, Saturday, March 2 nd , Paloma Angélica Escobar Ledesma, a 16 year-old student at the ECCO computer school, disappeared. She was found the 29 th of March near the C-4 police complex.
Apparently not related to the previous cases, the body of 19 year-old Maria Teresa Araiza Hernández was found along a side road to the same road to Cuauhtémoc. The body was found in an advanced state of decomposition and ( acartonamiento ), dressed in black pants pulled down to her thighs, and naked above the waist, covered only with a black leather jacket. The assistant attorney general of the western judicial district declared that she had possibly committed suicide due to the fact that the young women had a suicide note in her pocket. The “suicide note” was later found to be the text of a poem written by Luis G. Inclán.
And then CAME 2003. On Sunday, March 16th, 16 year old Marcela Viviana Rayas Arellanes dissapeared from the center of the city. Her body was found on May 28 th in an area near the entrance to Chihuahua , 500 meters to the west of the road to Delicias. She was strangled. Three days later, 19 year-old Claudia Yudith Urias Bertraud, 14 years old, disappeared.
Later, on the 13th of May, Neyra Azucena Cervantes disappeared from the center of the city when she was going to the bus stop. She worked in a clothing store and was a student at the ERA computer school (the new name for the ECCO computer school). Her body was found July 14 th in the mountainous area known as Cuernos de la Luna. Two weeks later, on May 27 th , 18 year-old Diana Yazmín García Medrano also disappeared from the same area of the city. Her body was found at the side of the old highway to Juarez 2 months later.
This long account has an explanation. There is not one person (except David Meza - and those accusations do not have substance), accused of these crimes. During years, someone committed assassinations and the authorities, instead of investigating, fabricated guilty parties, conducted themselves irresponsibly and for this they must give an accounting.
During almost two years, in order to hide the femicides with these characteristics, they kept the existence of the corpse outside of the reach of the Judicial power and outside of the knowledge of civil society, leaving the youth of the city unprotected and without forewarning society about the danger that faced young women and girls of the capital city. They are poor. What do they matter? No one should know, the femicides may alienate the investors.
And there are many coincidences that demonstrate the knowledge that the authorities had of the existence of an assassin in the streets. The case file of Viviana Rayas contains 2 series of photographs, with 2 different skulls. The of the Attorney General's office say both belong to her. The difference, they say, is in post-mortem changes between the inferior and posterior of the corpse said to belong to Viviana. Then there is the absence of soft (tejidos) on the corpse alleged to be that of Neyra. “These bones are old”, said the mother of Neyra, Patricia Cervantes. Also, underclothes were switched among the bodies found Red shorts on the remains of Paloma Escobar that didn't belong to her and the disappearance of a change of clothes from the backpack of Norma Leticia Luna Holguín.
Another coincidence, the head of the investigations was Comandante Gloria Cobos, the same woman who planted a photo of an old boyfriend of Paloma by the body to incriminate him. The photo was one that the mother of Paloma had given to an officer to aid in her identification. Besides, at least 3 of the bodies were found in the immediate area surrounding the famous center of operations of the Secretary of Public Security “reason for public pride”, C4. No one was ever aware of any suspicious movement in the area, in spite of what is supposed to be unceasing vigilance on the part of C4. More, at least three of the young women killed, Minerva, Neyra and Paloma had a link: their relationship with the ECCO computer school.
And don't be surprised by the perversity of the police toward the families. The day following a passionate protest by Jose Rayas, the father of Viviana, who accused the Attorney General Solis of not finding his daughter – “you have or know who killed her, return her to me”, he screamed at Solis. The next day, they “found” a body that they said was that of Viviana Rayas. So quick were the police that the day before the discovery of this body, which was found by two young passersby, some members of the police force advised the owner of the land that the next day they would “find” a body there.
The coincidences are oppressive. The day of the last demonstration, some blocks away, and probably at the same time as the protest, Diana Yazmín García Medrano disappeared.
In another episode, precisely a day after an interview with Norma Ledesma, mother of Paloma Escobar, with Governor Patricio Martinez, the investigators, called her on the telephone and informed her that they had found her daughter and “she is enjoying herself with a group of her friends” exactly at the moment in which Norma was participating in the preparations for a demonstration for the return of her daughter.
But if they hid the existence of the body of Minerva for so much time, nothing could keep one from thinking that the same thing had happened in other similar femicides in Juarez . For example, the bodies found in the cotton field have distinct dates of probable death and were in distinct stages of decomposition. One could reach the conclusion that before they were found some of the bodies were stored under conditions of refrigeration. Where? In the offices of the Attorney General?
Shock and indignation. And still, some of the political protagonists accuse those who denounce the existence of such irregularities as “disparaging Juarez and Chihuahua ”.
Today is the worst scenario. The assassin or assassins are free. Time, ineptitude, governmental negligence are the best allies. The first erased much of the evidence and the functionaries and employees made an end of what was left.
And the judges that issue orders of apprehension, now we know that without data to verify the guilt of many of the accused, can they remain aloof from this criticism. Of course not. Their responsibility is major. Many of them ignored the shameful leadership of the last administration. Their conduct must be investigated along with that of those who led the justice branch in the last administration. All, including the Governor Patricio Martinez and his 3 Attorney Generals, Arturo González, Jesús José Solís Silva and Jesús Antonio Piñón and from this overhaul, no one must be spared. All of the citizens who had any responsibility in this department must be investigated, immediately. The offenses committed against the people of Chihuahua are many and their nature is serious.
And they must initiate an authentic investigation, credible – in this sense it is to believe the decision of the office of the judge advocate general, first to investigate the existence of the skeletons en the basements of the PGJE (State Judicial Police), to perform the examinations and, later, to notify the family of Minerva - to solve the crimes and the detention of the guilty. And all of the above is urgent because a murderer of women is loose.
Norma Ledezma described the burden of the family members and the conduct of the authorities well. “They always lied to me in the office of the judge advocate general. They lied to me when the told me that Paloma was alive, that they had seen her having fun with friends, but while they were telling me this, they were killing my daughter; they lied when they invented evidence to get a scapegoat for the crime of my daughter. And they continue to lie to the mothers of the disappeared young women when they tell them their daughters surely went with a boyfriend or that they ran away from their homes because of family problems.”
Correo electrónico: Aserto1@netscape.net