Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Mexico: Anonymous videos show homophobic hazing of alleged robbers by vigilantes

Considering the reports of extreme drug-trade fueled violence coming from Mexico these days, the three videos that surfaced anonymously on YouTube on October 16th might not qualify as being the worst (I have translated and posted one of them, above). They don't show bloodshed; they show faces being slapped but not the beatings that allegedly took place; and, thankfully, every one of the five young men who is shown being humiliated in the video, was later set free. That doesn't mean that the videos are any less shocking or disturbing to watch.

Reports say that the videos were uploaded by someone using the moniker "Ratitas de Tepic" ["Little rats from Tepic"]. In the additional info area, the person wrote "estos ratitas, por querer robar mi casa, eso fue lo que les pasó" ["these little rats, for wanting to rob my house, this is what happened to them"].

From yesterday's Los Angeles Times ("Mexico divided over video of alleged robbers being abused"):
The video[s] of the beating and sexual abuse of five young alleged thieves at the hands of vigilantes has provoked widespread outrage here. But in some quarters, there have been disquieting voices of approval.

The video landed on YouTube. It shows the cowering teenage boys being slapped in the face and forced to French kiss one another. Each is forced to say that they are about to be raped as punishment for robbing houses.

In the state of Nayarit, where the incident took place, many people suspect that the abusers might be police officers - Authorities deny that.

Nayarit Gov. Ney Gonzalez Sanchez was furious when he learned of the video and the abuse. Speaking over the weekend, he gave state prosecutors until Monday to produce results in the case -- "definitive, serious results, without scapegoats," he said. "No one has the right to take justice into their own hands."
Not surprisingly, state prosecutors beat the deadline:
Nayarit state prosecutor Hector Bejar Fonseca met the governor's deadline and on Monday announced the arrest of four suspects in the assaults. The men are not police officers, he said, and were arrested after being overheard in a bar bragging that they made the video. Bejar Fonseca said the suspects were drug dealers and that they had five accomplices who remained at large. It was unclear what the motive was for the alleged abuse.
One of the held captives, interviewed by Mexico's El Universal, insisted that it was the Prosecutor's Office that handed him and the other young men to the abusers:

One of the youth told El Universal that he and the others were handed over to their abusers from inside the state prosecutor's headquarters. The youth, whom the paper did not name, said they were repeatedly beaten, threatened and intimidated. He said the owner of the house that the youths allegedly tried to rob joined in, which matches what the person who posted the videos on YouTube said.

From comments made by one of the victims as reported in the El Universal article that the Los Angeles times mentions:
"They took three of us to the weapons area of the Procurator's Office... As we arrived, a man said: Take off the handcuffs, and they took them off. They took us down of the pick-up truck and told us to climb on another, the Wolf unit; it had a double cabin. And we no longer were able to see anything. They would not allow us to raise our head."
El Universal says that, on-camera, they were threatened with being forced to have sexual relations with each other and with having their hands cut-off. Off-camera, the victims reported being hit on their legs with a stick, having been beaten up and kicked. The video also shows evidence that their hair was clipped.
They were kept overnight from October 14th to the 15th, and let go in the early morning after forcing them to take their clothes off and told to run.

A lawyer, acting on behalf of some of the victims, said that more than 10 people participated in the beating, including at least two women. The videos, which were captured with a cell phone, were illuminated by a light beam from a motorcycle.

El Universal says that none of the young men - high school students all - has returned to school and that they are still traumatized by the beating. Some of their families have refused to come forward, afraid that there will be retribution if they speak to investigators of the press.

Nayarit en Linea, which first broke the story, has been following up on the latest developments, including the Nayarit Governor's ultimatum and the arrest of four construction workers after an allegedly "anonymous" tip.

A typical comment below that latest post:
"Oh, please! The Procurator's own grandmother does not believe him. It's such a coincidence that when they grabbed the "guilty" they were just grabbing anyone who was going by. Who does he want to kid if everything that goes on in the State is invented by the government and, this case, I don't think is the exception. If only because it became national news, according to them, they have been working [on this]. The Procurator, as if nothing had happened, as always showing indifference before these facts."

Previously on Blabbeando:

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