A Movement Grows in Texas to Seek Justice in Mexico

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Juan Fraire Escobedo at the Austin protest Thursday

 

Two years ago, Juan Fraire Escobedo sought political asylum in Texas after the assassination of his mother Marisela Escobedo and the murder of his 16-year old sister Rubi.

Marisela was shot and killed December 16, 2010, on the steps of the Chihuahua State Capitol where she was holding a vigil to bring her daughter Rubi’s killer to justice. Government authorities had refused to help the family even after Rubi’s former boyfriend, Sergio Barraza, confessed to killing her.

The family was forced to conduct their own investigation. Through sheer persistence they found Barraza in the state of Zacatecas and located Rubi’s partial remains. Meanwhile, his sister’s killer had joined the Zetas drug cartel, which runs Zacatecas. “We went to the chief of the federal police in Mexico City, and he told us ‘he’s with the Zetas. We can’t do anything.’”

Escobedo’s dogged pursuit of justice made him a target of death threats. More than the cartels, Escobedo blames a corrupt government system that allows organized crime to flourish. Nearly two years after his mother’s death, Escobedo joined at least a dozen other activists in Austin Thursday to protest in front of the Mexican Consulate against impunity and corruption in his homeland.

“After years and years of corruption in the government it’s difficult to get any justice in Mexico, especially because of the security situation,” he said Thursday. “And here in exile it’s like I don’t exist to my country.”

As more Mexicans like Escobedo seek refuge here a protest movement is building in Texas to exert pressure on Mexico. “We’re tired of living with the violence,” he said.

Escobedo, is a member of Mexicanos en Exilio a nonprofit composed of exiles who have fled Mexico. The nonprofit was started by El Paso immigration attorney Carlos Spector to bring attention to human rights abuses in Mexico. His daughter Alejandra helped organize the protest Thursday.

Protestors said they have little faith that Mexico’s new president Enrique Peña Nieto will combat the corruption and respect the rule of law. On December 1st during his inauguration in Mexico City dozens of protestors were arbitrarily detained and some were tortured, according to a preliminary report by Mexico City’s human rights commission. Some of the protestors are still being held in detention.

“Injustice moves me to come here today,” said 60-year old Angel Camaño who is originally from Guadalajara. “People try to protest in Mexico and they are being put in jail. The politicians talk about democracy and liberty but we don’t see it.”

Melissa del Bosque joined The Texas Observer staff in 2008. She specializes in reporting on immigration and the U.S.-Mexico border. Her work has been published in national and international publications including TIME magazine and the Mexico City-based Nexos magazine. Melissa is a 2014-15 Lannan Fellow at The Investigative Fund.