Monday, October 9, 2017

The devastating murder of Mara Fernanda Castilla and reality of femicide in Mexico

The devastating murder of Mara Fernanda Castilla and reality of femicide in Mexico

In the early hours of the morning of September 7th, Mara Castilla laughed, drank, with friends, shot glasses and beers, mixed drinks and cigarette smoke, bar stools, bouncers and waitresses, in low cut tops and heels, a blur of music and conversation. The intimate secrets and whispers in ears, and shouting voices over the pulsing soundtrack, the kind of night that defies age, and invites one to live in the moment, enjoy the youth, or deal with age.  Mara was 19.  

She left alone, in the familiar, barely controlled chaos of those evenings, last call, last drink, last chance, last smoke, last night. There are moments outside clubs and bars, across Puebla, across Mexico, across the world, where the next few hours are decided.  Everyone must decide, where do I go now?  To go home with girlfriends, enjoy the night with your best friends, fall asleep on the couch, the next afterparty, the handsome stranger you met earlier, or the co worker/friend, who you suddenly want to know better.  

Mara's choice was simple, easy, and leaves no room, one would think, for the kind of victim blaming we are so sickened to see in these cases, time and again. Mara went home alone. Too many drinks, or not enough, or maybe none, she headed home alone, using Cabify, an Uber like app, to take her home.  Taxi's are often considered less safe in Mexico for a variety of reasons, lack of oversight, ties to organized crime, and just general mistrust. Cabify, like Uber is extremely popular in many cities in Mexico.  Her driver arrived around 5:00 AM,  he would later be identified as, one Ricardo "N", or Ricardo Alexis. 
Ricardo N, Alexis 

Mara was missing for a week before her body was found on a highway, some 90 miles from Mexico City, thrown near a ravine like so many victims of violence, a white towel or sheet wrapped around her, her body showing obvious signs of trauma.  The towel was from a local motel, Motel Del Sur in Puebla.  Later investigations showed her driver Ricardo N entered Room 25, at 6:47 AM and left at 8:15 AM.  He obtained the towel from the hotel, and dropped off her body afterward, on a highway.  

Surveillance shows the car did arrive at Mara's home, but she did not get out.  Only Ricardo N, arrested, on September 13, two days before Mara's body was found, knows what happened.  Mara was beaten, sexually assaulted, and murdered, allegedly by strangulation. It is not entirely known if this took place in the motel room, in the car, or somewhere else, unknown.  Blood was found in the motel room, according to investigators.  He has been charged with kidnapping, and is expected to be charged with femicide, rape, and robbery.

There are a lot of variables in Mexico's legal system, mostly followed (by me), as it relates to organized crime.  In civil courts, at a state level, there is rampant inefficiency and corruption. Along with an often complex legal process, which leads to the release of criminals.  This case has become very visible in Puebla and throughout Mexico City, with protests, social media protests, and media coverage.  There is hope that the guilty will be punished.  There is hope he will never be released.  Prosectors are reported to be seeking a 60 year sentence. 
Camera still of Ricard Alexis vehicle that morning

Mexico, has a long, dark legacy of femicide, brutal violence towards women, based on certain cultural norms that both encourage the violence, and defends, or minimizes those who commit it.  There is a deep sense of victim blaming and misogyny that infects these cases.  The most known example, made infamous by television, movies, reporting, is the femicides of Juarez.  A ghastly killing frenzy of mostly marginalized women, who were brutalized, raped, murdered, many times thrown in mass graves, in desolate areas outside Juarez.  

The full scope of the killings were never uncovered, though many of the dynamics were known. There were hundreds, if not thousands of these killings . They went unsolved, and unstopped, and undeterred for decades.  There were different generations of killers, there were different killers, there were different motivations.  There was complicity from elements of the Juarez Cartel, there was involvement by local politicos, and "Juniors", the affluent children of the Juarez elite.  

It is a murky, ghastly story, and one that hasn't stopped, or changed much, though it has slowed down since the 90's and 2000's.  It happens other places, Baja California, in the midst of much violence has seen dozens of femicides this year, some connected to organized crime, many not.  There victims are sometimes prostitutes, sometimes maquiliadora workers, sometimes girls like Mara Castilla, who are not guilty of anything, though there is a rush to cast all victims as bad.  They were "just" prostitutes, or perhaps they were alleged to be unfaithful, or sexually active, or gay.  There is always a justification for the killing. There is always a sentiment that they deserved it.
Screenshot of Cabify fare

Baja California and Tijuana specifically have seen an increase in these kinds of killings, dozens per year, only a "small" part of the overall homicides, which are well past 1,000 this year, but dozens, still.  They are found in suitcases, in blankets, dismembered and disarticulated, and disregarded by society.  What we can do is this:

Speak up.  Do not let people blame the victim in your presence.  Speak out against violence towards women, sexual and otherwise.  Do not disrespect the dead by justifying their death, in that they were sex workers.  Donate to causes, help bury the dead, through Go Fund Me, and other crowd sourcing venues.

Mara's body was found in a sheet, grimly bearing the motel where she was likely murdered, alone, and bruised, her body lay by the highway.  She is not alone, and every death matters, every killing is too many.  There are hundreds like this every year, and the killers, the victimizers go unpunished with immunity, sometimes under the sheer strain of killings, that stain the streets of cities like Tijuana.

Mara, from Xalapa, Veraruz, was attending college in Puebla.  She will never graduate, she will never marry, she will never dance, or laugh, or cry again.  It is in these actions that the devastation of death is realized, and than we multiply. Not by five, or ten, or twenty, but hundreds.  That is the reality, that is the devastation. Heartbroken and stained with the knowledge, photos of women I will never meet,  haunted, I write these words.

Sources:

Animal Politico  http://www.animalpolitico.com/2017/09/mara-castilla-muerte-chofer-cabify/

Pueblaroja.mx http://pueblaroja.mx/tag/ricardo-alexis/

A timeline of Mara's death:  http://www.periodicocentral.mx/2017/pagina-negra/feminicidios/item/16824-las-ultimas-horas-de-vida-de-mara-castilla-asi-ocurrio-minuto-a-minuto-el-feminicidio-de-la-estudiante-de-la-upaep-cronologia






44 comments:

  1. A well-written, heart-wrenching and informative article. Excellent work, J! Time and again I am impressed with the triple-A quality journalism produced by the citizen journalists of BB.

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    1. 11:32 the double A agree, AARP.

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  2. mexico you make me cry and remember old days when 3 of my family members where kiddnapp and rape and finally kill in michoacan by rapists it make so angry to know my hometown is full of this pedofile and violadores de jovencitas who police will aid for a torta so sad thanks BB for this post no more killing of woman

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    1. Lo siento mucho por ti y tu familia ke haya sufrido como tambien las victimas.

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    2. Grieving never ends.
      Especially where loved ones are the victims of such.
      One thing is certain in life. People of such exist everywhere in the world. But let me assure you that no one goes unpunished for his misdeeds.

      Karma is a bitch!!!!
      E42

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    3. 11:13 That's heartbreaking and you got a triple whammy.Unbelievable tragedy!Hope you are safe.

      Delete
  3. I think castration , female hormone injections and life with the sodomites .
    That what that sorry Taxi driving piece of shit need for punishment

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    1. Or death penalty. But wait Mexico has no death penalty why its a strategic move on behalf of the politicos corruptos they would hate to end up on a death sentence they put in place. Mexico would change for the better instantly after the first death sentenced criminal is put to sleep the government has many resources they know this is absolutely true but they dont care about Mexico or its people or they would implement death row. If America did not have death row it would also be out of control.start by pushing for death penalty by marching to have such a thing demand murderers be sentenced to death its the only hope the people of Mexico have.

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    2. Castration by rubber band for 2 days then blow torch...then bullet in head...once convicted. I know, no DP in Mexico. 20 yrs or so here in Pac NW, a child predator was caught. I believe he plead guilty, but was Convicted, then executed at his request. He waived all appeals, even those filed by human rights orgs. He said he would kill guards or whatever was necessary for him to escape to hunt down more kids. He said " Hell yes I'm sick in the head!!! Well people do not commit these acts. You can't rehab them. The only HUMANE thing is to execute them. At very least let each victim's father, and or brother, bf, husband, or hell I'll volunteer to lock them in a room together alone for 24 hrs. To me...that's the only thing close to justice for these crimes.

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    3. America had no death row for a while, and no measurable changes "for the better" were detected, yet a few people were railroaded that were discovered to be INNOCENT.
      AND some people were lynched "for being sexual deviants that whistled at some white woman" that later confessed they just made up a lie, tormented by her conscience....
      Emmet Louis Till was his name.
      --In mexico if the Death Penalty Law makes it into the constipation, it will change nothing, just more innocent victims of the mexican narco-government that already practices extra-judiciary killings, many of them for the spoils of war that is already happening on the US with confiscations of property from "suspect individuals" and the distribution of the spoils and bountiful rewards among the officers involved, even drugs get split at times, but they must be working on making it legal, bet your ass.
      Laws need to be applied to the banksters, they are in the books gadamett! There is people Know! Gaddamett, but of course, their savy lawyers have bought the Verdicts:
      "Conspiracy Theories" have no room for trials of sentences, irregardless of the evidence and the blasphemous accusers like Preet Bharara, New York States Attorney fired just recently.

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  4. J thank you for bringing these events into the light. Make sure you find your way back when you're in the muck.

    ElCien

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  5. What the fuck is a women doing out an about at 5am and alone. I think what happened to Mara is horrible but avoidable im a man an I travel to various parts of Mexico but even I a grown man will head home before midnight i never go out alone an even I a tourist will not take a taxi unless its during the day hours an im accompanied by friends family for when im alone its the bus for me or a taxi again in day hours only an it must be occupied by others never take a taxi if thers no one in it but you especially after bar hours! Dicen deja esas abejas o te picaran.

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    1. 7:04 I get your point . She shouldn't have been out . She made a real mistake but that don't address the point that there are herds of serial killers in Mexico . Like I said earlier . Castrate him and grow him some tits and let him live a life of being a sex victim in prison . Ya think that might be a deterrent ? Of coarse that will never happen . It would certainly impress on a young man that that isn't the path he would want for himself .
      What is the answer ? Is this learned behavior from older generations ? Is there some kind of genetic defect that a person like this cant control . What causes this ? I was taught from a young age that you don't hurt girls . Was in many playground fights but never hit a girl . All my life I have practiced this and believe me I have a temper . I think its just so many in that society that have no morals and respect for human life .

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    2. Correct on the choice of transportation concerns. I recall hiring a cab just to follow while driving in my own vehicle to my designated place.
      Security precautions are highly advised where
      places of uncertainty exist.
      Memorable experience. Wife was baffled as to why I did what I did.
      Replied you have to think like a criminal if you do not want to become a victim.
      Sad to say but necessary nowadays.
      Then again, driving a Land Rover does not help matters much for these individuals who do not know anything else.

      E42

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    3. Continued.
      As for those inquiring of suspicion to my travel.
      Went to visit an uncle in Laredo during a Christmas break vacation. Whome I had not seen since the age of 15. A vacation destination to an hour past Monterrey at in- laws ranch.
      My travel into Laredo was brief few hours and parted ways back into Texas for a Safer crossing and passage towards outside of Monterrey.
      The height of violence which the Zetas controlled.

      True story

      E42

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    4. My wife lives in la frontera de Coahuila i stay all week an work in San Antonio then i head to Mexico for the weekend. Let me tell you E42 you're right when you say think like a criminal .on one of my trips back home to my wife i had just crossed the border not twenty minutes later en la 57 i was surrounded by trucks an suv i was driving my new tahoe brand new no rims nothing out of the ordinary but they the men that surrounded me an my passenger pointed cuernos an pistols at us telling us to stop the vehicle i did stop they all got off there vehicles except the drivers walked up to our windows an said get off leave your belongings i had baby formula in back seat they said who's that for i said a friend's baby i didn't want to let them know i had a wife an child in Mexico they said take the formula leave your luggage an some groceries i had just bought at the HEB.they took my tahoe left us standing there i learned that day if i wanted to keep crossing into Mexico i could not drive vehicle's theyre intrested in i now drive a older model mini van and ive had no problems since its been 4years now.i was later contacted by the federales not an hour after they stole my tahoe they were chased down an shot to death on my tahoe the tahoe had over 100-200 bullet holes the seats coverd in blood all i needed was the report an pictures for my insurance.

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    5. at 10:32
      same car, black, same place, but used free road-my assistant was cheap and said it was safe- we ran into narco blockade first and last. I was ignorant to what was happening. I will just say, but for a little trick taught to me by my mentor we would have been killed or tahoe taken. I was careful what we drove after that. we were let go and allowed to take my tahoe. I don't hear of that happening on the border area of 57 much.

      as for "herds of serial killers" what do you base this on? It is not true, not close. United States BY FAR is number 1 followed by UK, so Africa and canada.

      Never blame the victim. she did what she thought was safe, called cabify. But now we are learning they are far from safe.

      Reader pls do not hire a cab to follow! that is extremely unsafe you may follow the driver right to a safehouse, or another vehicle waiting for you. for many years I use my smart phone to get me where I need to go in Mexico and cnt america it has not failed me yet. Yes i drive alone at night, but I plan ahead safest routes, even if it is double the time. and i drive a nacamobile :) I bought one, not so bad at least it has a/c and i ignore the taped up pass window. I recall once going into Tijuana to Rosarito, with a new Ranger Rover... on the way back the guys at the US POE really scolded me. that was before I was thoughtful about things. it really is best to not take a lux or high performance vehicle.

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    6. UK more serial killers?Is that based on labels,investigation and captures?UK very violent place,if you believe that pigs fly as well

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    7. Sorry to say that's why it's been over 15 years since I traveled into Mexico. And doubt that will change anytime soon.
      I have relatives inToluca, Laredo, Oaxaca and Guadalajara.
      Have no intentions of driving any of my vehicles into Mexico.

      By the way for those interested in Land rovers?
      Not worth the maintenance costs. Moreover, the incompetent mechanics from dealers.
      BMW is by far a better vehicle. Wife will never go back to Land Rover. A error on my part for purchasing it for her.
      She prefers my 650 I Gran Coupe.

      E42

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    8. @ Chivis
      Is there light at the end of this dark tunnel?
      Would love to see my Heritage and its culture
      once again.

      E42

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    9. 5:p2 Sacas mucho dinero de un carro de paletas.

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    10. Te la rento amigo!
      @7:21

      E42

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    11. @5:02. Love that you can't even support the local economy. You have to buy a BMW. Perhaps they will allow you to live in Germany. Another example of a poor education. Can't even understand simple economics.

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    12. Deja la botella y Los cacahuates
      Y ponte a trabajar.

      E42

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    13. E42....not in my lifetime, or that of my children ....something major has to occur, by design or accident. I had such hope but after living and working among the movers and shakers, government criminals and organized crime, I learned change had nothing to do with narco activity, but that the gob controlled the so called drug war and relied on the revenue derived from Drug Inc. without which would mean an economic disaster. Mexico is one of the richest nations in natural resource. and no matter what you may read, they barely touch the potential of foreign companies moving to mexico for its mfg needs. it has a bad rep of corruption, piso demands, and insecurity. I can tell you that from first hand experience. We elected to go to Asia rather than south. Mexico has unlimited potential, it has taken the lazy path. The big factor is the people. They are willing to accept and look the other way feeling defeated with no possibility of changing what exists.

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    14. @ Chivis
      My thoughts the same.
      Due to the demand of drugs and the fortunes generated. I see no change. It's this revenue that dictates what's been transpiring in Mexico.
      Moreover, you are correct Mexico is rich in resources. Furthermore, the permitted piso practices have become a norm of government practices.
      Such a shame! Its citizens deserve much more.

      Thanks for your insight and knowledge.

      E42

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  6. Why kill the lady, if he got the sex, he wanted.

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    1. 11:50 the dead don't talk, people need to learn not to be out all night, even if they are men, but women are more vulnerable, and there will not be help if they need it, soldiers and police are on the prowl, mostly at night, but day time is ok too, who is going to stop them from "arresting" a beautiful woman in provocative clothing and full of make-up?
      Women need to start wearing Burkhas and stop provoking on the street at a hours of the day, because men turn into animals.

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    2. Unfortunately, many women have no choice. Many thousands work in the maquilladora industries, whose factories run 24/7 and so the women have to work shifts. They have no choice than to leave after their shift finishes, early morning or late night, when there is little public transport running.

      Im sure if there were another option they would take it.

      Delete
  7. Castration and tattoo his new name "Sin Huevos" in his forehead.

    Stick to your Scooby snacks.

    It's not what this sicko wanted. It what he did do an innocent girl.

    Scrappy

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    1. Castration and maybe cut his dodo down to a little nub, a face tat and maybe cutt off a hand just so he cant drive no more or hurt women!

      Delete
  8. 11:50 they kill their victims to keep them silent,
    --by the time they get caught they have done it before.
    --fedral and state police, soldiers and marinas away from home, also like to find their sex wherever they at, forgetabout "asking nice" or working the sex appeal, in Cd Juarez it helped kick out the local cartel which I doubt was full of "rapist kidnappers", and remember it started when Egyptian chemist Abdul latif shariff got deported to El Paso and then to mexico for doing his dirty deeds of violent rape.
    In cd juarez he contracted out some rapes/ murders to prove to the courts that "since he was in prison, heavily sedated" he could not have done the previous crimes either...
    Pinchis juareños took a liking to the crime after that.
    I wait for eclipses to offer ladies company for the end of the world,
    they are so scared and affraid they are easily ensnared, too easssy

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  9. The very fact of somehow always blaming the victim,the young girl or woman "she should not have been out that late,she was promiscuous,she was involved,she dressed sexy" all these point to the fact of misogyny,that women and girls somehow are less important in this patriarchal society.Juarez is an indictment and one that still hasn't been truly held up to the light and used as an example that if you harm women we will take the harshest measures possible against you.
    As a man i would argue that women are the more important of the gender that we should always protect and help,we all know,ANY MAN that uses violence on a woman is a pathetic little pussy

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    1. Any man that put his hand on any woman is a coward!
      No ifs nor butts about this!
      Walking away from any altercation or disagreement is the correct and logical thing to do.

      E42

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    2. Exactly right fellas... women should never be hit or harmed by a man, unless said woman is committing a violent act. Even the use physical superority to restrain. But as E42 stated violence against women is only exceeded by violence toward children as the ultimate act of cowardice...yeah I'm talking to all you woman beaters, and rapists...you're the lowest of the low...Scum

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    3. Name calling will not resuscitate this young woman, and it is not about assigning blame, it is about prevention, before the event, and that is where victims have the last word before delivering themselves to the tender mercies of these pinchis murderers, women could organize their own Autodefensas, taxistas, and etc etc, even use their men, for hellshakes, they don't work!
      Of course, organizing by themselves is an act of war and it is against the "LAW", but they should take the presidencia and start from there, every new murder.

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  10. Poor little girl,her beauty and vitality has been snuffed out by a scrub she wouldn't look at

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  11. What does this have to do with the drug war?

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  12. When taxi drivers tried to jump into the back seat with me when taking me to my apartment in NY, I would jump out the other side, yet still feel protected under social norms. Living in Mexico, and running from a boyfriend who had just tried to strangle me, everyone closed their doors to my pleas, including older women. There is a huge divide here between the sexes, and sadly women are seen as prey and dispensable.

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    1. 6:35 don't pick fights with your boyfriend boney, not in thr car and not in the taxi, call the police and send his ass to treatment if you love him that much, and have him pay for it.

      Delete
  13. Hahaha y’all keep pushing the “don’t go to Mexico” agenda. Not everyone is a coward, and not everyone has all of their family in the US.

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  14. Sad what happened to this young lady. It is a fact though that this had\s been going on forever. No you should never blame a victim but use their mistake to educate other young women. One fact is being in bars in Mexico is very risky with gunman showing up all over and shooting those places up. The fact is caution should always be used. Who would know this better than a person that resides in Mexico? I don't but I would know not to be out drinking and partying. Those late hours are when the cartels are doing their business.

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    1. @11;AM Sounds very much you are blaming the girl for being in the bar with her friends just like 100's of thousands of Mexican college students and others her age were were dong all over Mexico that night. She was not killed by any cartel member or sicario. She was killed by the Cabify whick is like Uber and is extremely popular in many cities in Mexico and much of the world. Most consider it safer than taxis. So explain to me what her "mistake" was. Quit blaming her.

      Delete

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