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Mexico: Fighting Impunity on the Second Anniversary of the Guardería ABC Fire

María Magdalena Millán García, Andrea Nicole Figueroa, Emilia Fraijo Navarro, Valeria Muñoz Ramos. Sofía Martínez Robles, Fátima Sofía Moreno Escalante, Dafne Yesenia Blanco Losoya, Ruth Nahomi Madrid Pacheco, Denisse Alejandra Figueroa Ortiz, Lucía Guadalupe Carrillo Campos, Jazmín Pamela Tapia Ruiz, Camila Fuentes Cervera, Ana Paula Acosta Jiménez, Monserrat Granados Pérez, Pauleth Daniela Coronado Padilla, Ariadna Aragón Valenzuela, María Fernanda Miranda Hugues, Yoselín Valentina Tamayo Trujillo, Marian Ximena Hugues Mendoza, Nayeli Estefania González Daniel, Ximena Yanes Madrid, Yeseli Nahomi Baceli Meza, Ian Isaac Martínez Valle, Santiago Corona Carranza, Axel Abraham Angulo Cázares, Javier Ángel Merancio Valdez, Andrés Alonso García Duarte, Carlos Alán Santos Martínez, Martín Raymundo de la Cruz Armenta, Julio César Márquez Báez, Jesús Julián Valdez Rivera, Santiago de Jesús Zavala Lemas, Daniel Alberto Gayzueta Cabanillas, Xiunelth Emmanuel Rodríguez García, Aquiles Dreneth Hernández Márquez, Daniel Rafael Navarro Valenzuela, Juan Carlos Rodríguez Othón, Germán Paúl León Vázquez, Bryan Alexander Méndez García, Jesús Antonio Chambert López, Luis Denzel Durazo López, Daré Omar Valenzuela Contreras, Jonathan Jesús de los Reyes Luna, Emily Guadalupe Cevallos Badilla, Juan Israel Fernández Lara, Jorge Sebastián Carrillo González, Ximena Álvarez Cota, Daniela Guadalupe Reyes Carretas, Juan Carlos Rascón Holguín.

These are the names of the children that died in a fire in a childcare facility in Sonora, México, on June 5, 2009.

Karla Garduño, a journalist that covers social movements, published an article [es] about the history of Guardería ABC in Reforma. The piece explains the irregularities around the system of ‘subrogated’ childcare (‘subrogation’ is “a legal concept whereby State obligations are delegated to private actors“) as well as the specific issues about the case, where only three people have been removed from their public positions out of 39 who have been identified as having some degree of responsibility. Nineteen of those charged were freed from jail after paying bails.

Investigations have implicated several high-level officials, like Juan Molinar Horcasitas – one of President Felipe Calderon’s closest collaborators –  as well as the administrators and owners of the daycare, which include a cousin of President Calderón’s wife.

Movimiento Cinco de Junio [es], a powerful social movement that seeks justice in this case, organized a citizen trial last week at El Zócalo, in the main square of Mexico City. Although the trial has no ‘legal’ validity, as Jesús Robles Maloof explains [es], it was simply an act of collective memory against impunity.

Citizen Trial.  Image via @maaariela.

Citizen Trial. Image via @maaariela.

El gobierno federal por escrito manifestó que la participación del presidente y de las autoridades “era improcedente pero que estaban atentos a sus propuestas”. Ah bueno. No faltaron mis colegas abogados que cuestionaron la “legalidad” del evento. Quizá nunca entendieron que el juicio ciudadano, era eso, un juicio de un grupo de ciudadanos sobre la negligencia de las autoridades. Juicio al que todos tenemos derecho en el marco de la libertad de expresión.

En sus sillas se encontraban el Juez, la Secretaria, la Fiscal, el defensor de oficio, el Jurado, los Testigos de Calidad y esas madres y padres estoicos como siempre. La lugares del Poder Judicial, de la Presidencia, del Poder Legislativo, de la CNDH, del IMSS y de la PGR vacías, “Así están en la realidad”, escuché como comentario.

The federal government stated in writing that the participation of the president and the authorities “was improper but that they were attentive to their proposals”. Oh OK. My fellow lawyers questioned the ‘legality’ of the event. Perhaps they never understood that the citizen trial was that, a trial of a group of citizens in response to the negligence of the authorities. A trial we all have the right to have under the framework of freedom of expression.

The judge, the Registrar, the Prosecutor, the defender, the Jury, the Witnesses of Quality and those mothers and fathers, stoic as ever, sat in their chairs. The seats of the Judiciary, the Presidency, the Legislative Branch, the NHRC [National Human Rights Comission], the IMSS [Mexican Social Security Institute] and the PGR [Office of the Mexican Attorney General] were empty, “They are like that in reality” I heard as a comment.

The Fiscal and the Jury declared the State and individuals involved guilty. Emilio Alvarez Icaza, former Chairman of the Human Rights Committee of the Federal District, acted as judge. ISP News blogs about the details. The sentence included [es] one month of community work in a childcare facility for Juan Molinar Horcasitas and Daniel Karam for each boy and girl that died, as well as an amendment to the subrogation scheme, expansion of criminal and administrative cases, repair of damages, the adoption of the ‘June 5 Law‘ [es] (promoted by Movimiento Cinco de Junio) and the government's public apology.

Paty Duarte (@madreABC). Image: Geraldine Juárez.

Paty Duarte (@madreABC). Image: Geraldine Juárez.

Paty Duarte, one of the leaders of Movimiento Cinco de Junio, who lost her child in the fire two years ago, said:

This citizen trial gave us energy to keep going. PGR and the Supreme Court are the ones that need to give justice to our dead children. […] If people participate more in these exercises, we put pressure on them, and they will have to work.

Most mainstream media outlets in Mexico reported on the trial, including CNN and El Universal. The Los Angeles Times wrote about the anniversary, highlighting the lack of justice. Also, the magazine Gatopardo published an article titled “I am guilty” [es] on the story of one of the parents that lost his child in Guarderia ABC.

On Sunday June 5, on the 2nd anniversary of this tragedy, many showed their support online, using the hashtags #justiciaABC and #guarderiaABC to tweet about the events that took place in Hermosillo and other cities in memory of the children.

Corruption kills. Justice ABC. #streetuit  Hemrosillo, Sonora. Image via @roblesmaloof.
Corruption kills. Justice ABC. #streetuit Hemrosillo, Sonora Image via @roblesmaloof
Mexicans and Argentinians in an altar for the children of #GuarderiaABC in Buenos Aires. Image via @karlapre.

Mexicans and Argentinians in an altar for the children of #GuarderiaABC in Buenos Aires. Image via @karlapre.

49 ballons in Cd. Victoria, Tamaulipas. Image via @contigentetam.

49 ballons in Cd. Victoria, Tamaulipas. Image via @contigentetam.

Subcomandante Marcos sent a letter to the parents of Guarderia ABC [es]:

No es fácil sacar palabras del dolor, nosotros lo sabemos. ¿Y de la rabia?¿Del saber que los malos gobiernos ignoran propositivamente los reclamos de justicia?
¿De ver cómo se manipula el calendario para simular justicia, y para calcular que la desmemoria cubrirá la muerte? Esa muerte absurda de los 49 pequeños y las decenas de heridos, infantes sin más culpa que haber nacido en un país donde el gobierno ha unido el nepotismo con la corrupción y la impunidad.

It is not easy to utter words from the pain, we know that. But what about from rage? From knowing that bad governments purposefully ignore the claims for justice?
From seeing how the calendar is manipulated to simulate justice, and to calculate that forgetting will hide death? That absurd death of 49 children and the injuries of dozens, innocent infants born in a country where the government has linked nepotism with corruption and impunity.

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