Things That Matter

A Man Didn’t Like How Slow Mexican Authorities Were Investigating So He Solved His Father’s Murder

The most intense true crime stories seem to follow an unlikely plotline: someone goes missing, the authorities fail to follow up, and a friend or relative of the victim vows to solve the crime—to avenge them with the justice they deserve. Although this type of vigilante justice seems most believable in fictional situations, the truth is that it can absolutely happen IRL. And when Juan Carlos Quiroz’s father went missing in 2017, Quiroz became the protagonist of his own harrowing true-crime tale.

Quiroz’s father disappeared in the spring of 2017. As a retired middle school principal, Albino Quiroz Sandoval spent lots of time at his home in Tepoztlán, Morelos—so it seemed strange when he did not return that afternoon after running an errand at a hardware store nearby. When his family searched through the small mountain town, they eventually found his car abandoned about a mile from the store. They assumed that he had been kidnapped, as more than 40,000 people are currently registered as “missing” in Mexico, and this type of situation is not exactly of as national homicide rates continue to rise.

Quiroz aimed to file a missing person’s report the next day, but bureaucracy held him up, requiring him to visit four separate government offices over the course of 12 hours.

Credit: Unsplash

In spite of the sluggish administrative process, police dispatched a single officer to investigate. But the officer returned to the state capital of Cuernavaca with no information. As hours passed without any leads, it became evident that Sandoval was not the victim of a random kidnapping. And due to Mexico’s notoriously ineffectual justice system (in Mexico, only 5 percent of killings end in a conviction, and just last year, the conviction rate in Morelos was less than 1%), Quiroz realized that he not only had to face the source of his father’s disappearance—he also had to deal with an incredibly difficult legal system.

Understanding the tenuous situation his family was in, Quiroz opted to take matters into his own hands. “I realized that it wasn’t my job to grieve,” he said. “I had to look for answers, or I wasn’t going to get any.” 

So just two days after his father had disappeared, Quiroz paced the streets of Tepoztlán, visiting shop after shop in search of surveillance footage that might lead him in the right direction. He later found out that the police hadn’t even checked for this type of evidence—evidence that would end up being pivotal to solving the mystery of what happened to his father.

One video showed Sandoval leaving the hardware store that he’d originally set out for, driving in the opposite direction of his home. Later that night, the family heard rumors that Sandoval had been lending money to a man named Juan Carlos Reyes Lara—a local attorney who claimed that his daughter was in the hospital—and that Sandoval and Reyes had gotten into an altercation about money on the day of his disappearance.

Witnesses had observed this altercation and reported it to local police, but no action was taken. When Quiroz approached the police for more information, they barely acknowledged the event, though one officer did give Quiroz the name of a witness who had reported the incident.

Eventually, the witness shared his story with The Los Angeles Times, saying, “We all want the system to change. But if you don’t do your part, it will never happen.”

Credit: Unsplash

Two weeks later, police apprehended Reyes in his home on charges of kidnapping. But while this seemed like a small victory, the next steps were incredibly frustrating for Quiroz and his family. In a preliminary court hearing, prosecutors failed to mention that they had an eyewitness account for Sandoval’s beating. Ultimately, one prosecutor told Quiroz’s family that it would be best to avoid a trial and instead try to negotiate a deal with Reyes, which would require him to pay the family restitution without admitting guilt.

Desperate for further assistance, Quiroz sought help from a human rights group, which ended up connecting him with a lawyer named Efraín Márquez Dur’án. Márquez was all too familiar with the corruption of Mexico’s justice system, and he took on Quiroz’s case con gusto, eager to meet to challenge of making the state to do its job—which, let it be known, he did.

After a year of news conferences and meetings with officials, Marquez lobbied for a new prosecutor to be assigned to the case—a prosecutor who believed Reyes should be charged for kidnapping with intent to harm.

Credit: Unsplash

In seven days of hearings, held over a three-week period, 22 witnesses and experts testified, leading to a guilty verdict. Reyes was ultimately sentenced to 50 years in prison—a partial justice for Quiroz and his family, who plan to continue fighting for Mexico’s justice system to overcome its toxic corruption.

“I think it’s our only option to escape the cruelty of the violence that we’re living,” he said. “We have to be able to come together again as members of the same community and make the criminals responsible for their actions.” 

READ: The Police Officer Who Shot Atatiana Jefferson In Her Own Home Will Be Put On Trial For Murder

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Mexico City Could Soon Change Its Name To Better Embrace Its Indigenous Identity

Things That Matter

Mexico City Could Soon Change Its Name To Better Embrace Its Indigenous Identity

Mexico City is the oldest surviving capital city in all of the Americas. It also is one of only two that actually served as capitals of their Indigenous communities – the other being Quito, Ecuador. But much of that incredible history is washed over in history books, tourism advertisements, and the everyday hustle and bustle of a city of 21 million people.

Recently, city residents voted on a non-binding resolution that could see the city’s name changed back to it’s pre-Hispanic origin to help shine a light on its rich Indigenous history.

Mexico City could soon be renamed in honor of its pre-Hispanic identity.

A recent poll shows that 54% of chilangos (as residents of Mexico City are called) are in favor of changing the city’s official name from Ciudad de México to México-Tenochtitlán. In contrast, 42% of respondents said they didn’t support a name change while 4% said they they didn’t know.

Conducted earlier this month as Mexico City gears up to mark the 500th anniversary of the fall of the Aztec empire capital with a series of cultural events, the poll also asked respondents if they identified more as Mexicas, as Aztec people were also known, Spanish or mestizo (mixed indigenous and Spanish blood).

Mestizo was the most popular response, with 55% of respondents saying they identified as such while 37% saw themselves more as Mexicas. Only 4% identified as Spaniards and the same percentage said they didn’t know with whom they identified most.

The poll also touched on the city’s history.

The ancient city of Tenochtitlán.

The same poll also asked people if they thought that the 500th anniversary of the Spanish conquest of Tenochtitlán by Spanish conquistadoresshould be commemorated or forgotten, 80% chose the former option while just 16% opted for the latter.

Three-quarters of respondents said they preferred areas of the the capital where colonial-era architecture predominates, such as the historic center, while 24% said that they favored zones with modern architecture.

There are also numerous examples of pre-Hispanic architecture in Mexico City including the Templo Mayor, Tlatelolco and Cuicuilco archaeological sites.

Tenochtitlán was one of the world’s most advanced cities when the Spanish arrived.

Tenochtitlán, which means “place where prickly pears abound” in Náhuatl, was founded by the Mexica people in 1325 on an island located on Lake Texcoco. The legend goes that they decided to build a city on the island because they saw the omen they were seeking: an eagle devouring a snake while perched on a nopal.

At its peak, it was the largest city in the pre-Columbian Americas. It subsequently became a cabecera of the Viceroyalty of New Spain. Today, the ruins of Tenochtitlán are in the historic center of the Mexican capital. The World Heritage Site of Xochimilco contains what remains of the geography (water, boats, floating gardens) of the Mexica capital.

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Mexico Plunges 23 Places On The World Happiness Report As The Country Struggles To Bounce Back

Things That Matter

Mexico Plunges 23 Places On The World Happiness Report As The Country Struggles To Bounce Back

When it comes to international happiness rankings, Mexico has long done well in many measurements. In fact, in 2019, Mexico placed number 23 beating out every other Latin American country except for Costa Rica. But in 2020, things looks a lot different as the country slipped 23 spots on the list. What does this mean for Mexico and its residents? 

Mexico slips 23 spots on the World Happiness Report thanks to a variety of compelling factors.

Mexico plummeted 23 places to the 46th happiest nation in the world, according to the 2020 happiness rankings in the latest edition of the United Nations’ World Happiness Report. The coronavirus pandemic had a significant impact on Mexicans’ happiness in 2020, the new report indicates.

“Covid-19 has shaken, taken, and reshaped lives everywhere,” the report noted, and that is especially true in Mexico, where almost 200,000 people have lost their lives to the disease and millions lost their jobs last year as the economy recorded its worst downturn since the Great Depression.

Based on results of the Gallup World Poll as well as an analysis of data related to the happiness impacts of Covid-19, Mexico’s score on the World Happiness Report index was 5.96, an 8% slump compared to its average score between 2017 and 2019 when its average ranking was 23rd.

The only nations that dropped more than Mexico – the worst country to be in during the pandemic, according to an analysis by the Bloomberg news agency – were El Salvador, the Philippines and Benin.

Mexico has struggled especially hard against the Coronavirus pandemic. 

Since the pandemic started, Mexico has fared far worse than many other countries across Latin America. Today, there are reports that Mexico has been undercounting and underreporting both the number of confirmed cases and the number of deaths. Given this reality, the country is 2nd worst in the world when it comes to number of suspected deaths, with more than 200,000 people dead. 

Could the happiness level have an impact on this year’s elections?

Given that Mexico’s decline in the rankings appears related to the severity of the coronavirus pandemic here, one might assume that the popularity of the federal government – which has been widely condemned for its management of the crisis from both a health and economic perspective – would take a hit.

But a poll published earlier this month found that 55.9% of respondents approved of President López Obrador’s management of the pandemic and 44% indicated that they would vote for the ruling Morena party if the election for federal deputies were held the day they were polled.

Support for Morena, which apparently got a shot in the arm from the national vaccination program even as it proceeded slowly, was more than four times higher than that for the two main opposition parties, the PAN and the PRI.

Still, Mexico’s slide in the happiness rankings could give López Obrador – who has claimed that ordinary Mexicans are happier with him in office – pause for thought.

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