Sunday, August 25, 2013

Missing Mexican Bar Patrons Found in Mass Grave (Updated)

Mexican authorities positively identified on Friday five of the thirteen corpses in a mass grave as belonging to a group of young bar patrons missing since May 26th.

Update (08/26/13): Officials on Sunday afternoon allegedly identified ten of the bodies in the mass grave as belonging to the missing patrons.      

According to the Mexican Attorney General’s Office, (PGR in Spanish) the badly decomposed bodies were located at a site roughly thirty miles away from the “Heaven” bar in Mexico City where twelve people were possibly kidnapped nearly three months ago.

“Various scientific techniques were used to identify the bodies including examining dental records and previous x-rays since some of the bodies had prosthetic devices,” said senior PGR investigator Sara Mónica Medina Alegría at a press conference on Friday.

Thus far it’s unknown who might be behind the mass grave at a ranch that was first found by police on Thursday, yet coincidentally four corpses were reportedly found at the same ranch in 2011.

The disappearances of the “Heaven” patrons have been shrouded in mystery since the incident occurred in broad daylight and with no obvious sign of force on the surveillance footage.

In addition, there is strong disagreement behind the possible motive behind the disappearances.  Local prosecutors last June claimed that the incident was linked to a rivalry between two street gangs based in the rough and violent Tepito neighborhood.  (Update (08/27/13): Mexico City's top prosecutor said on Monday that the missing patrons were kidnapped as part of a "reprisal" for the murder of a local drug dealer).

Yet relatives of the disappeared rejected the gang voilence hypothesis and accused investigators of scapegoating the missing since they were all Tepito residents.  For them, the entire “Heaven” ordeal has been a living hell with more questions than answers:

“It’s all really confusing to us,” Beatriz Loza, the aunt of victim Monserrat Loza, said Saturday. “The investigation failed. I can’t believe that three months have passed”…
In the Heaven case, families started to report the missing the next day but nothing happened until four days later when the relatives blocked streets in a public protest. Even then the case seemed to be going slowly, with leads turning up and immediately going cold, and Mexico City officials repeatedly emphasizing that the case was no sign of a broader problem of insecurity in the capital.
“They have many elements, many people, but where are the victims?” Leticia Ponce, mother of 16-year-old Jerzy Ortiz, one of the missing, asked in July. “Are they really trying to find them?”
As we mentioned in February, a Human Rights Watch report on disappearances in Mexico concluded that “all too often, (prosecutors and law enforcement officials) blame the victims and tell families it is their responsibility to investigate.”

Family members of the missing decided not to protest on Saturday since they’re expected to meet with PGR officials on Sunday morning.

Additional police were deployed to four Mexico City neighborhoods over the weekend including Tepito and the chic Zona Rosa where the “Heaven” bar is located.

Video Source– YouTube via CNN (Video uploaded in June 2013).

Online Sources including Updates – Milenio; Excelsior; BBC News; The Latin Americanist; Washington Post; CNN; France24

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