Tuesday, January 19

There is no truce for Guanajuato: 48 murders in three days

State police and the army guard the bar where at least 11 people were killed this weekend.
State police and the army guard the bar where at least 11 people were killed this weekend.Special Photographer / Cuartoscuro

On Saturday, experts from the Guanajuato prosecutor’s office rescued 20 black bags with human remains from eight clandestine graves. It was in the municipality of Irapuato, in the center of the State. The group of relatives of disappeared persons To Your Meeting drew up a summary of what the experts found in each pit. Each epigraph of the summary illustrates the horror that Guanajuato is experiencing: “Pit 1: A woman’s full body with a red blouse or top, black pants (sic), black sweater, high-heeled shoes; Pit 2: four bags. A bag with heads, another bag with arms, and the other two bags with torsos and legs. One, that of the heads, with a knot. The others without knots and without tape ”.

There is no truce for Guanajuato, which is counting deaths at an increasing rate, without the state and federal governments finding a solution. From Friday to Sunday, the entity registered 48 murders, 11 in the same place, a nightclub in Jaral de Progreso, in the south of the state. On Saturday, in addition, experts from the prosecution removed the 20 bags with human remains from the graves of Irapuato. Both cases illustrate the inability of the authorities to face the violent wave. The massacre at the bar is the umpteenth reported by the state this year, after the murder of 30 people in a rehabilitation center in Irapuato in June, or the shooting death of a family in a taquería in Celaya in January. The discovery of new graves puts the state government in front of the mirror, criticized by groups of relatives of the disappeared for their lack of empathy.

The strategies to contain the violence in the industrial jewel of El Bajío are counted as failures. The federal Executive first thought that the problem was fuel theft. The huachicolero mafias – petrol thieves – acted as they pleased and had the collaboration, voluntary or not, of the authorities. In January 2019, the Government even located a three-kilometer hose at the Salamanca refinery, near Irapuato, which clandestinely pumped fuel abroad.

The Army came in a rush to fight the huachicoleros. In some parts of the territory, the military literally camped on top of oil pipelines. Theft went down, but the violence didn’t. 2019 ended with 3,974 murders, a historical record for the entity. The authorities then focused on pursuing criminal groups. Oblivious to the pacifist rhetoric of the president, Andres Manuel López Obrador, the federal security apparatus targeted José Antonio Yépez, alias El Marro, head of a criminal network that calls itself the Santa Rosa de Lima Cartel. After persecuting him for months, authorities detained him in August. The expectation was that the violence would decrease. The authorities’ reading was that with El Marro out of the game, his group would be reduced to the other large group that operates in the entity, the Jalisco Nueva Generación Cartel, a situation that would bring peace to the state. But the calculations failed again.

Beyond the explanations that point to fights between groups, the truth is that violence permeates to the marrow of a tired and terrified society. Extortion has been common for a long time in different municipalities of the state. Just a year ago, the alarm sounded in Celaya, when the tortillerías of the city that did not bow to the threats were attacked by criminals. Last week, a merchant denounced the newspaper Reform that criminals had sent him pamphlets with threats if he did not pay the extortion. “There is no point in trying to leave or hide. We have completely located you and your whole family ”, the text read.

In the face of violence, the state government maintains a sanitary distance, as if the mere fact of avoiding it made it diminish. Relatives of victims of violence have criticized the governor, Diego Sinhue, of the PAN, for denying the situation the entity is experiencing. “The State Government does not want to recognize it and treats it politically,” criticizes criminologist José Gutiérrez, head of the organization Sembrando Comunidad. “On Friday the note of the eight graves in Irapuato came out and on Saturday 11 people were killed in Jaral. At the national level these news attract a lot of attention, but here in Guanajuato it seems that nothing happens. It has already been normalized and there is no social claim. There is not even an alarm. There is a lot of fear of even going out to protest ”.

Gutiérrez, who is based in Irapuato, legally supports the collective To Your Meeting. Last Thursday, the group arrived at a place known as Cerro del Conejo. They found clothes, a bulletproof vest and a long human bone, a femur. The next day they returned and found the graves. They immediately notified the prosecution that it took me five hours to arrive. His delay provoked the anger of the families and a friction with the National Search Commission. The prosecution wanted to start processing the graves, but the Commission refused. By protocol, the pits should be analyzed in broad daylight, not at dusk.

Karla Quintana, national search commissioner, explains that coordination with prosecutors is sometimes complicated. “It happens to us that they want to make unilateral decisions,” he explains. The prosecution finally relented. At least that was the agreement. Quintana points out that “the finding is very important, especially due to the context of denial by the state government. They say here that there are no clandestine graves ”.

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