Things That Matter

Days After Getting Life In Prison, Joaquin ‘El Chapo’ Guzmán Has Filed An Appeal

A lawyer for convicted drug lord Joaquín “El Chapo” Guzmán filed an appeal against his client’s life sentence the day after it was handed down, court documents published Monday show. The 62-year-old, who was the former co-leader of Mexico’s feared Sinaloa drug cartel, was convicted in February of smuggling large amounts of cocaine, heroin, methamphetamine and marijuana into the United States.

Guzman’s defense lawyer, Marc Fernich, filed the notice of appeal to the US Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit with hopes that his client will get another chance at a trial. But according to news reports, the appeal process could take months to a year to be completed. 

Will El Chapo’s grounds for an appeal actually be successful?

Credit: @AFP / Twitter

Guzman has already been sentenced to life in prison and sent to a federal maximum security prison in Colorado, which is nicknamed the “Alcatraz of the Rockies.” An additional 30 years were added to Guzman’s sentence and he was also ordered to pay $12.6 billion in forfeiture, the amount was based on a conservative estimate of revenues from his cartel’s sales in the U.S.

But after an expected appeal, Guzman will now have to wait. How long? That could take up to a year, according to the AFP. During his sentencing, Guzman claimed that he had received an unfair trial due to juror misconduct. This is referring to a story that claimed several members of the jury violated a court order by looking at social media and various news pieces about the high profile court trial. 

“I was extradited to the US to have a fair trial, where justice would be blind to my fame and would not be a defining factor in the administration of justice,” Guzman said during his sentencing. “But what happened was actually the opposite.”

According to his lawyer, El Chapo has a “strong issues for appeal.”

Credit: @Keegan_hamilton / Twitter

While the odds of Guzman winning an appeal appear to be steep, his defense team is confident that they have a good chance at overturning the conviction. “Guzman has strong issues for appeal. We’ll fight to overturn his conviction and are confident we’ll prevail,” Fernich told the AFP

Another defense lawyer for Guzman said last week the trial was unjust due to various jurors violating the judge’s orders by following the case in the media.  Jeffrey Lichtman is asking to for a fair trial on behalf of Guzman that isn’t influenced by outside voices that would affect the way his client is viewed. 

“All we had asked for is a fair trial. I’m not here to tell you that Joaquín Guzmán is a saint . . . Whatever you think of Joaquín Guzmán, he still deserves a fair trial, everybody does in America . . .” Lichtman told the AFP.

Guzman has gone on the record claiming that the conditions he’s been placed in since he was extradited from Mexico to the United States in January 2017, have been unfair from the start. 

Credit: @amandaottaway / Twitter

Besides the trial itself, Guzman claims there was “no justice” in his case from the start due to the media sensationalism and high-profile figures involved. He’s also described his incarceration in the U.S. a “psychological, emotional, mental torture 24 hours a day.”

The former drug lord of the Mexican Sinaloa Cartel said the U.S. lacks justice and is smeared with corruptness, like other countries. During his sentencing hearing, Guzman said his human rights were violated and had been put in horrible jail conditions that he described as “torturous”. He claims he was unable to sleep well, had trouble breathing and was not allowed to see his wife or daughters.

“I’ve been forced to drink unsanitary water. I’ve been denied access to fresh air and sunlight. The only air I have in my cell comes through in the air vent,” Guzman said. ““It has been physical, emotional and mental torture.”

Many were angry at Guzman’s comments citing the hundreds of lives he’s endangered and were cut short due to his reign over the Mexico drug cartel business. It’s safe to say this won’t be the last time we hear from Guzman as he heads to federal prison for what many hope is his last stop. 

READ: Mexico’s President AMLO Says That ‘El Chapo’ Should Of Got A Different Sentence, Not Life In Prison

Mothers of the Plaza de Mayo Are The Women Fighting To Find The Stolen Children During The Argentine Dictatorship

Things That Matter

Mothers of the Plaza de Mayo Are The Women Fighting To Find The Stolen Children During The Argentine Dictatorship

Sundance Institute

During the 1970s a group of desperate Argentinian mothers began protesting government officials and holding them accountable for the human rights violations that had been committed in the military junta  known as the Dirty War. The determined women violated the government’s law against mass assembly and risked the ire of Argentina’s military dictatorship to expose the government’s human rights violations. The biggest part of their fight however had been to expose the kidnapping of over 30,000 individuals known today as “Desaparecidos” or “the disappeared.”

The Mothers of the Plaza de Mayo (or, the Asociación Madres de Plaza de Mayo) is a movement of Argentine mothers who campaigned to find out what happened to their children who had “disappeared” during the 1976 government takeover.

The mothers’ tragic stories began in 1976. At the time the Argentine military had toppled the presidency of Isabel Perón. According to History.com, “it was part of a larger series of political coups called Operation Condor, a campaign sponsored and supported by the United States.” The new military dictatorship resulted in the Dirty War, which was ultimately a fight against the Argentinian people. It opened doors to a period of state-sponsored torture and terrorism and saw the government turn against Argentina’s citizens, targeting those suspected of being aligned with leftist, socialist or social justice. As part of the rule of terror, the government kidnapped and killed an estimated 30,000 people. They also made great efforts to cover up the dead and missing people.

But the family members and friends of the missing victims fought for the truth.

The mothers and relatives of people who went missing during the war searched for their loved ones and began to stage protests at the Plaza de Mayo in the 1980s. 

According to History.com “Some of the mothers of the disappeared were grandmothers who had seen their daughters whisked away and presumably killed and their grandchildren given away to other families. Even after the Dirty War ended in 1983, the Grandmothers of the Plaza Mayo have searched for answers and worked to identify children who grew up without any knowledge of their true parents.”

Today the Mothers of the Plaza de Mayo have verified the identities of 128 stolen children, thanks to DNA identification techniques but the fight of these mothers and grandmothers lives on. Sadly, thousands of Argentinian children remain missing.

The Mothers of Plaza de Mayo is a 1985 Argentine documentary film that highlights the Mothers of the Plaza de Mayo.

At the time of its release, it was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Documentary Feature and in 2013, received an update on “Abuelas: Grandmothers on a Mission” which highlights the work of the Grandmothers of the Plaza de Mayo in Argentina.

The Police’s Reaction To The Black Lives Matter Protests For George Floyd Vs. Anti-Quarantine Demonstrators Says A Lot

Things That Matter

The Police’s Reaction To The Black Lives Matter Protests For George Floyd Vs. Anti-Quarantine Demonstrators Says A Lot

Stephen Maturen / Stringer

Derek Chauvin (a 19-year veteran of the Minneapolis Police Department) pinned George Floyd to the ground by kneeling on his neck for seven minutes.

For the first three minutes of being restrained Floyd (a 46-year-old Black man) pled for his life begging Chauvin to remove his knee because he couldn’t breathe. After four minutes Floyd stopped moving, and bystanders capturing video of the request determined that he was unresponsive. The aftermath of his death after sparked explosive protests and reminders, yet again, that Black people are not safe in this country and continue to. be subjected to inequality.

On Tuesday morning, video of the incident that took place on a sidewalk in Minneapolis surfaced online fueling anger and protests.

There’s so much in the video that is distressing, but hearing Floyd begging the officer to let up and repeating “I can’t breathe” is only a small part that has once fueled the Black Lives Matter movement. After all, we’ve heard those words before. In 2014, Eric Garner, uttered the same ones while dying under police brutality in New York.

At the time of his death, Floyd had been facing arrest. The officers involved in the incident had been called to the scene due to a “forgery in progress” in the Powderhorn Park neighborhood of Minneapolis. Note, forgery while a serious crime is a non-violent one.

Darnella Frazier is the woman who captured the video on her phone and posted the footage on Facebook for the world to see.

On Tuesday, May 26, Minneapolis Police Chief Medaria Arradondo announced that the officers involved had been placed on leave. Later on in the day, four responding officers were fired and the Federal Bureau of Investigation announced the incident was being reviewed.

Reactions to the protests show another glaring reminder of the treatment of Black people in the United States vs. white.

Reactions to anti-mask protests and demonstrations against government stay-at-home orders in the past few weeks have been met with stoic reactions.

You’ve seen the images. In the face of demonstrators furious about the safety restrictions implemented to combat COVID-19, police officers and government officials have responded primarily with nonviolence. We’ve seen no stun grenades or tear gas.

But the crowds of Black protestors rallying for “Justice for George” have been met with riot gear and chemical agents. According to reports around 8:00 pm of the protests police in riot gear fired sandbag rounds, rubber bullets, and pepper spray.

Once again, Black people are being forced to fight for their lives while non-Black people of color get off easy while saying or doing little from the sidelines.