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Wednesday, May 17, 2023

Abarca Acquitted For Organized Crime, Sentenced For Kidnapping

"Sol Prendido" for Borderland Beat

Jose Luis Abarca, when he was arrested in a house in Iztapalapa.

Judge Samuel Ventura Ramos acquitted José Luis Abarca and Sidronio Casarrubias of the crime of organized crime. The former mayor of Iguala was sentenced to 92 years in prison for aggravated kidnapping of three activists. But the judge did not recognize them as victims of forced disappearance, torture and extrajudicial execution.

Almost 10 years after the then mayor of Iguala, Guerrero, José Luis Abarca abducted, tortured and murdered activist Arturo Hernández Cardona and six other activists, a court sentenced him only for aggravated kidnapping. Abarca received 92 years and six months in prison; his defense can still contest.  

The sentence signed on May 12 by the first district judge for federal criminal proceedings, Samuel Ventura Ramos, acquitted Abarca of the crime of organized crime.

Ventura Ramos did issue a conviction for the crime of aggravated kidnapping, committed against Arturo Hernández Cardona, Ángel Román Ramírez and Rafael or Félix Rafael Balderas Román. It should be recalled that these three people were found handcuffed, with traces of torture and murdered on June 1, 2013. A witness who managed to escape directly accused Abarca of having murdered Cardona.

The former mayor also received a conviction for the kidnapping of Héctor Arroyo Delgado, Efraín Amates Luna, Nicolás Mendoza Villa and Dante Cervantes Delgado.

Thus, Abarca was not legally tried for being responsible for the forced disappearance, the torture of four activists and the extrajudicial execution of three of them.  

In the same sentence issued on May 15, 2023, Ventura Ramos absolved Sidronio Casarrubias (who was identified as the leader of the criminal group Guerreros Unidos in Iguala) of having participated in these forced disappearances.

It should be recalled that last September 2022, the same judge, Samuel Ventura Ramos, absolved José Luis Abarca for the crime of intellectual participation in the forced disappearance of the 43 students from Ayotzinapa on September 26, 2014.

Previously Ventura Ramos had already released 77 people linked to the forced disappearance of the 43 students. These people were exonerated on the grounds that they had allegedly been subjected to torture. However, although the judge alleged this in order to release them, he did not initiate any proceedings against the authorities who allegedly committed these human rights violations.  

The forced disappearance and extrajudicial execution of Arturo Hernández Carmona is currently before the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights for a thorough investigation. It was admitted precisely because the legal counsel of the Hernández Cardona family accused of delays and negligence.

The case

In January 2013, various social organizations came together in the Popular Unity in Iguala; they demanded issues such as housing, social work and fertilizer for peasants. One of the members was Arturo Hernández Cardona, a PRD member of the IDN current and leader of the Emiliano Zapata Popular Peasant Union (UPEZ).

Since the UP emerged, it had a tense relationship with the mayor. And even back then, rumors accused Abarca of criminal ties. In the midst of this tug-of-war, on March 7 of that year, a town councilman, Justino Carvajal, was assassinated. Carvajal was the nephew of the Guerrero politician Felix Salgado Macedonio, of great local and national relevance.

Immediately after the crime, two patrol cars of the Iguala municipal police, with high caliber weapons, were stationed in front of the offices of UPEZ, Hernández Cardona's organization.  Years later, Carvajal's relatives would point the finger at Abarca for the crime. But in those days, it was the mayor who accused Hernández.

Months went by and the arguments got louder and louder. Meanwhile, Iguala was also decomposing. Narco-laboratories and graves were found; Guerreros Unidos.

On May 29 of that year, Arturo Hernández appeared before the town council with his UPEZ comrades. Those who were there say that things became very tense. Abarca finally shouted:

-Stop screwing around, because I have people to do my job for me.

Hernandez Cardona retaliated:

-What do you have people for, president? What do I work for? Are you going to kill us?

That same day, several members of the UPEZ filed a complaint against the municipal president and his wife, María de los Ángeles Pineda Villa, and against Felipe Flores Velázquez, secretary of Municipal Public Security.

The plaintiffs were the following: Arturo Hernández Cardona, Héctor Arroyo Delgado , J. Carlos Dorantes García , Rafael Ochoa , Justino Amos Osores Narcizo, Ángel Román Ramírez, Daniel Jardon López, Francisco Abarca Perales, Feliciano Ortiz Delgado, Gregorio Dante Cervantes Maldonado and Bernardo Cruz Manjarrez.

They stated that they had "well-founded fears" that the defendants might deprive them of their lives.

The following day, May 30, the same sympathizers intermittently blocked the Mexico-Acapulco federal highway. There were fights with the police. But at the end of the day they withdrew. The last to leave were eight: Arturo Hernández Cardona, Héctor Arroyo Delgado, Efraín Amates Luna, Gregorio Dante Cervantes, Ángel Román Ramírez, Nicolás Mendoza Villa, Rafael Bandera Román and Jimmy Castejón.

They drove away in a private van. On the way they disappeared.

The discovery of the bodies

On June 1, 2013, at six in the morning, the bodies were found. They were bound and blindfolded on the Iguala-Chilpancingo highway. The documents state that they showed signs of torture. They were Arturo Hernández Cardona, Félix Rafael Bandera Román and Ángel Román Ramírez.

Four others - Héctor Arroyo Delgado, Nicolás Mendoza Villa, Efraín Amates Luna and Gregorio Dante Cervantes - managed to escape from their captors.

It was later learned that Jimmy Castrejón, the last of the disappeared, was able to escape the same day of the capture, but remained hidden out of fear.   

But nothing was known in Iguala until June 3. Activist Héctor Arroyo Delgado, one of the people who managed to escape, contacted human rights defender Bertoldo Martínez Cruz by telephone. He told him that Hernández Cardona had been murdered the day after his disappearance - June 1 - and that he was leaving Iguala, fearing for his life.  

Ayotzinapa and Hernández, united destinies

Hernández Cardona was a well-known man throughout Guerrero. On June 3, when people still did not know the outcome, social organizations marched to demand that they appear alive in the center of Iguala. Activists came from various parts of the state, among them the normalistas from Ayotzinapa. When the news reached the assembled demonstrators, things got out of control. Normalistas smashed the windows of the municipal presidency.

It is said in Guerrero that Abarca never forgave the Ayotzinapa youths for this. That since then they were threatened to die if they returned to the city. By November, when some students returned to that city, they were met with bullets. Fortunately, that time it did not escalate.

Impunity in Guerrero

Survivor Nicolás Mendoza Villa testified many times: before the Guerrero state Attorney General's Office, before a private notary in 2013, and before the press. In all of them he directly accused Abarca. But no one arrested him, there was no investigation. Abarca and his wife continued to reign in Iguala.

The Popular Union dissolved. The survivors fled Iguala one by one.

By March 2014, the then Deputy Attorney General's Office Specializing in Organized Crime Investigations (SEIDO) took over the case. Mendoza Villa also testified there. Again, nothing happened. The case remained deadlocked and Abarca continued to govern alongside his wife... until September 26, 2014, when 43 normalistas were disappeared.

A month later, on October 24, the Siedo finally issued an arrest warrant for the case. All under international pressure because of what happened to the Ayotzinapa students.

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  1. It wasn’t abarca it was the government (PRI) that did this dirty work they wanted part of the gold mine in balsas so they created all this circus and blamed abarca because he was from the (PRD) just go and check which political group controls Iguala

    1. Yep. The case against the Abarcas was always deeply strange, let alone the case against GU. When Pena Nieto came into power the Normalistas were seen as the second most dangerous threat to Mexican National Security. Cartels, Organised crime and drug trafficking organisations were third on the list of priorities. The students disappear and it is blamed on GU and compromised local leaders. It's like a parody of the old Dirty War playbook from the days when the army massacring peasants was a daily occurrence. (It still is, they just call them cartel now). The lies will collapse one day.

  2. That’s sad how bad kidnapping is in Mexico. That’s not something that’s big here unless you sell drugs or involved in shit you shouldn’t be. But regardless the law is coming for you here. I guess the citizens in Mexico feel the rule of law is weak or at least lax.


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