Arrest of Suspects in Murder of Jethro Ramsses Sánchez Santana Leaves Unanswered Questions
By Erin Rosa
The Narco News Bulletin
Organizers with the nonviolent campaign to end the drug war in Mexico say they are skeptical over recent arrests made in the high profile disappearance of Cuernavaca resident Jethro Ramsses Sánchez Santana, and they are calling for an investigation of the general who oversees the military in the state of Morelos where the incident happened.
On Tuesday, the Secretariat of National Defense released a press statement saying that military prosecutors had arrested two soldiers in the disappearance of Sánchez, who was last seen on May 1st in Cuernavaca’s Acapantzingo neighborhood. The Movement for Peace with Justice and Dignity, led by Mexican poet and journalist Javier Sicilia, has brought national attention to the case as one example of the growing problem of impunity in the war on drugs.
“A lot of time has already passed and all we have are excuses that the military itself has made, where they are blaming two soldiers for this disappearance,” said movement organizer Rocato Bablot, who held a press conference in Cuernava’s main plaza today. “We believe that, as has happened in many cases throughout the country, the violence from these same federal forces has ended up threatening citizens.”
The Mexican defense department has not released key details about the arrests or the investigation, other than to say that the detainees were “brought before a military judge assigned to Military Region 1” in Mexico City for the “homicide” of Sánchez. How he died, the names of the soldiers and the date of their arrest remain unconfirmed, although media outlets have given different accounts based on anonymous sources. The news comes a few days after Amnesty International took up the case, calling it an “apparent forced disappearance at the hands of members of the Cuernavaca municipal police, the Federal Police and the Army.”
Now the movement is calling for its own investigation into General Leopoldo Díaz Pérez, who commands the military in Cuernavaca. “This context is becoming exceedingly serious, the complicit conduct of General Leopoldo Díaz, who is responsible for the 24th military zone and who last May 30 addressed the state congress and denied the participation of military forces in the detention of Jethro Ramsses, is extremely serious,” says a statement. “Today, a thorough investigation of General Leopoldo Díaz is needed, to at least clear him of participation in the concealment of the responsibility of his subordinates.”
As Narco News has reported, Sánchez and a friend were detained by municipal police on May 1 after getting into a fight at a restaurant, according to family members. His friend, named Horacio, was allegedly separated from Sánchez, beaten up, and dumped in a field outside of the city. Local officials told the family that they handed the two men over to the federal police because they had claimed to be part of the South Pacific drug-trafficking organization, and federal police have said they gave Sánchez to the military. Until the arrests, the military denied having any knowledge of Sánchez’s whereabouts.
If the military is guilty of of killing Sánchez, the arrests leave human rights defenders and community members with unanswered questions, starting with why the Cuernavaca resident was murdered. The actions taken by law enforcement authorities have offered little insight into what really happened and how high up the complicity goes in this drug war related disappearance.