Families of the three youths abducted a year ago in Michoacán, criticize the lack of results from investigations by the state authorities, saying that it has protected organized crime groups.
JULY 22, 2013 Paris Martinez (@ paris_martinez)
As Sunday came to a close in the town of Paracho, Michoacán, the eighth national Cantoya Balloon Festival 2013 wrapping up, family and friends of the three youths- who one year ago were forcibly taken by an armed group after they had given paper balloon workshops for children- gathered at the Metropolitan Cathedral in Mexico City, to pray for their return and to deplore the state’s lack of results produced through the investigations and the protection provided to organized crime groups.
“Since last April,” reported Alicia Guadalupe Nava, Luis Enrique Nava’s mother and Diego Antonio Maldonado’s aunt, (two of the disappeared), “the PGR have been leading the investigations because neither Michoacán state authorities nor the town of Paracho did a thing for our children. I myself met with the Michoacán state attorney general three times and he never knew what he was he was talking about. We’ve gone to Michoacán several times in addition to these meetings, and have been ignored.”
“In fact,” says Mrs. Nava, “it was the same state government, Jesus Reyna Garcia’s interim leader, who sent us to PGR, because none of the authorities in Michoacán showed us any interest. I was never able to meet with constitutional governor Fausto Vallejo, because I was constantly ill.”
Over this year since the disappearance, which occurred on July 22, 2012, around 4:00 am, when an armed group entered the hotel where the youths were staying and took them by force, “the Michoacan Attorney General compiled 1500 pages of records“Ana Belem Sanchez’ father, the third victim, adds, „however, are 1500 pages in concluding that nothing is known of the youths, and that is a bit unbelievable.”
In July 2012, Luis Enrique, Diego Antonio and Ana Belem were hired by the municipal government of Paracho, Michoacán, led by Nicholas Zalapa Vargas’ PRD to deliver workshops to children in the region, as part of that year’s Cantoya Balloon Festival.
They were there for three days, staying at the Hotel Santa Fe, located within walking distance of the City Hall, and early in the morning on July 22, the day they were meant to return to Mexico City, an armed group entered the hotel, kidnapped them, and to date their whereabouts are not known.
“We were told the attackers wanted to take Ana,” says Mrs. Nava, “but when the boys defended her, they took all three. That’s all we were told. They were taken in their underwear, because they were sleeping, and the guy at the desk said that there was banging in the stairwell, that Ana was crying for help, but nobody helped.”
That same week, the families of the three youths came to Michoacán to report the kidnapping, and to file a complaint that the municipal authorities knew of the event as soon as it happened and yet did nothing to start the search for their children.
“I spoke to the police chief of Paracho,” Ana’s father says, “and he told me that he had responded to a call from the hotel on the morning of July 22, because there was trouble. He said it took him 15 or 20 minutes, to dress and get to the hotel. Upon entering the establishment he did not find anything suspicious, so he reported that all was quiet.”
Since September of last year, Luis Enrique Nava’s mother claims that the municipal authorities’ attitude towards this case shows a deliberate slowness in response by Mayor Nicholas Zalapa since, witnesses report that the young people were removed from the hotel right before the chief of police claims to have arrived on the scene.
She notes, none of the city officials have clarified how they learned of the abduction, at the time it occurred or as time went on.
On the 25th day since the abduction, August 14, 2012, the alleged kidnappers were found dead in the mountains of Paracho.
“Supposedly,” Ana’s father says, “they killed each other … But one day later, on August 15, my daughter phoned me, she was still alive … All she said was ‘Daddy, it’s me’, and hung up. It was her, without a doubt.”
Since that call was made more than 11 months ago, the authorities still claim to be tracking where it was made from.
Recently in March, the Michoacán Attorney General announced the youths’ belongings to have been found, on sandbanks in the area known as Plateau Purhépecha, although they have not found any clues leading to the victims’ whereabouts.
“It’s just as much frustration,” says Luis Enrique’s mother, “the pain becomes frustration and anger. Monday marks one year since their disappearance and nothing has happened. The mayor of Paracho continues to invite people to Paracho, to the Cantoya Balloon Festival (held this weekend), and the Festival de la Guitarra, but provides no protection for the people who go there. It’s not even safe for people who are invited to participate in official activities, like our children, who were invited to work there, and no one protected them. Nicholas Zalapa tells lies, he says there is peace, but that’s not true, we have been to many places in Michoacán, and it is awful all around … no young person should go there, it is very dangerous.”
Source: Animal Politico