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Mexico Mourns Casino Royale Victims on Twitter

This post is part of our special coverage Mexico's Drug War.

On the afternoon of August 25, an armed squad attacked and set fire to a casino by the name of Royale, while the location remained quite populated. This incident, part of the violence related to the organized crime that batters Monterrey and Mexico in general, resulted in a tragic number of 52 deaths.

According to the newspaper Milenio [es], 35 of the victims were adult, elderly women. The majority of the victims passed away intoxicated. During preliminary investigations, police discovered that the casino did not have adequate emergency exits (according to a number of witnesses, as El Universal published [es]). Additionally, the casino operated illegally and had been closed down on a prior occasion, per Milenio [es].

The Mexican presidency has declared a national mourning [es] for the Casino Royale tragedy.

Luto nacional por Casino Royale

National mourning for Casino Royale. Photo from the Federal Government. (CC BY-NC-SA 2.0)

Despite the presence of the army, as well as the continuous operatives and investigative work, in 2011 the violence has escalated to new levels in Monterrey, a city known as the country's capital of industry and technology. The attacks in populated spaces have considerably increased: it is worth mentioning the attack on the Sabino Gordo bar that resulted in over than 20 victims [es], along with that of Café Iguana, a bar that hosted rock concerts, where four people were murdered [es] after a squad opened fire from the streets.

Casino Royale is located in one of the most heavily populated areas in the city, where three large avenues converge. The first actions following the Casino Royale attack and fire consisted of controlling the fire, ensuring the building's structure (which partially collapsed a day later) remained intact, and begin rescuing bodies.

During this period of uncertainty, many family members and friends looked for the victims through all means of communication, including Twitter, as we show below.

NFL commentator Fernando Von Rossum (@fvonrossum) was one of the first to post that a relative of his was present at Casino Royale [es]:

Con profunda tristeza les comparto que entre las desaparecidas se encuentra mi tia Carmen Martinez Von Rossum en el #CasinoRoyale

It is with great sadness I share with you that my aunt, Carmen Martinez Von Rossum, is among those who disappeared in #CasinoRoyale.

A few hours later, Von Rossum confirmed her death [es]:

Lamento confirmarles la muerte de mi tia Ma Carmen M de Von Rossum en el ataque al #casinoRoyale Agradeceremos sus Oraciones #DiosBendicenos

I mournfully regret to confirm the death of my aunt Maria Carmen M de Von Russum in the attack on #casinoRoyale We appreciate your prayers #GodBlessUs

Some users posted the names of their lost family members, turning to citizen reporters like Ana Rent (@AnaRent), dedicated to spreading timely information on precaution and assistance with respect to the violence in Monterrey. They also supported #mtyfollow, a hashtag commonly used by citizens to mutually share information on the attacks, crashes, assaults and whatever other type of risk-related situation. Edward Alexander (@Edward_Black) published the following [es]:

Aún nada de noticias sobre Jose Jaime Fuentes Oviedo. Por favor pasen este tweet. @AnaRent gracias de antemano. #mtyfollow #CasinoRoyale :/

Still no notice on Jose Jaime Fuentes Oviedo. Please pass along this tweet. @AnaRent thank you in advance.  #mtyfollow #CasinoRoyale :/

User @MissPalomo also searched for a victim [es]:

Por favor si alguien sabe algo de Jenny Garcia Toledano,23 años, complexión delgada, cabello castaño obscuro. #casinoroyale #mtysos @Cicmty

Please, if anyone knows anything about Jenny Garcia Toledano, 23 years old, thin complexion, dark brown hair. #casinoroyale #mtysos @Cicmty

One of the victims had begun working in Casino Royale that day, commented Adriana Navarro (@AdyNavarro) [es]:

@AnaRent identificamos a Ruben morales castillo, si fallecio, el viernes lo velaremos, tenia 19 años y era su primer dia en ese trabajo :(

@AnaRent we identified Ruben morales castillo, he died, on Friday we will hold a wake, he was 19 years old and it was his first day of work :(

In some cases, the results were positive. P. Odette Ledesma(@odetteledesma) posted [es]:

Ramiro de la Garza. 18 años de edad desaparecido en su primera salida a un casino, #casinoroyale. @losqueremovivos #tienennombre

Ramiro de la Garza. 18 years old disappeared on his first visit to a casino, #casinoroyale. @losqueremovivos #tienennombre

Almost 12 hours later, the user posted an update [es]:

Ya aparecio Ramiro de la Garza con vida! Ojala y encuentren a mas personas…

Ramiro de la Garza has appeared, alive! I hope they find more people…

Through Twitter, people shared methods of contact for those who had first hand information on Casino Royale, as in the case of Lorena de la Garza (@lorenadelagarza), who shared a phone number through her Twitter account [es]:

Me pasan por bb el tel de una persona que vió a la sra nora elia ortegón gzz. [# teléfono] plis RT p quien la busca #casinoroyale

Someone sent a phone number to my blackberry of a person who saw Ms. Nora Elia Ortegón Gzz [# telephone number] please RT for anyone looking for her #casinoroyale

Twitter users’ condolences have appeared over the course of the last few days, showing a mix of desperation, profound sadness, and a helplessness as a result of the insufficient work of the three governmental levels to control the violence in the country. User Ana Díaz (@MiViros) comments [es]:

El cielo #mty gris como este día, tristeza muerte personas #casino royale responsables la violencia y negligencia falta salidas emergencia

The #mty sky is grey like this day, sadness casualties #casino royale those responsible for the violence and negligence lacks emergency exits

User @ELYTIGRE35 also comments [es]:

QUE TRISTEZA LO QUE PASO HOY EN EL #CASINO ROYALE NO HAY PALABRAS PARA TAN GRAN DOLOR HOY PERDI A UNA AMADA SRA. EN ESE LUGAR

WHAT SADNESS THAT WHICH OCCURRED TODAY IN #CASINO ROYALE THERE ARE NO WORDS FOR A PAIN SO GREAT TODAY I LOST A BELOVED WOMAN IN THAT PLACE

The “they have a name” (@Tienennombre) Twitter campaign opposed the use of the number “50 thousand” to refer to the victims of the war against drug trafficking in Mexico and proposes to mention all of the victims by name. One day after Casino Royale, they began spreading the names of the victims [es]:

Petra Bustos Vázquez. Víctima del ataque al Casino Royale, Monterrey, N.L. 25/08/11 #NoSonCifras #TienenNombre #Mty

Petra Bustos Vázquez.  Victim of the attack on Casino Royale, Monterrey, N.L. 25/08/11 #TheyAreNotNumbers #TheyHaveAName #Mty

The complete list of the casualties in Casino Royale was published in the local press, as well as in newspapers Milenio [es] and El Norte [es].  Some victims still remain unidentified. The collection of tweets from the search for Casino Royale victims can be found on this Storify list [es].

This post is part of our special coverage Mexico's Drug War.

2 comments

  • malcolm kyle

    Prohibition does nothing but bankroll dangerous criminals, corrupt whole law enforcement agencies and generously arm international terrorists. Alcohol prohibition (1919-1933) was a casebook example of such dangerous folly. Today, alcohol is taxed and regulated and the shoot-outs over turf and the killing of innocent bystanders are no longer a daily part of the alcohol trade. So how come so many of us lack the simple ability to learn from such an important historical lesson, and are instead intent on perpetuating the madness and misery that prohibition has always invariably engendered? 

    It is clearly our always-doomed-to-fail policy of prohibition that is causing this intense misery. We need to fix ourselves (start thinking clearly) and in doing so, we will not only help rid ourselves of this terrible self-inflicted curse but also help to heal the whole planet.

    Are we really such an adolescent nation that we can expect neither maturity nor cognitive thought from either our leaders or our populace? This is not a war on drugs; it’s an outright war on sanity!

    Colombia, Peru, Mexico or Afghanistan, with their coca leaves, marijuana buds or their poppy sap, are not igniting temptation in the minds of poor weak American citizens. These countries are merely responding to the enormous demand that comes from within our own borders. Invading or destroying those countries, creating more hate, violence, instability, injustice and corruption, will not fix this problem. We need to admit that It is ourselves who are sick. Prohibition is neither a sane nor a safe approach. Left unabated, it’s devouring inferno will surely engulf every last one of us!

  • this world is not that great after all. i’m so sad to see what happened in the casino and i’ll hope for the best for the mexican people.

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