Things That Matter

Three Men In Mexico Were Forced To Strip Naked And Walk The Streets As Punishment For Stealing 15 Cows

Mexico’s everyday life, particularly in rural areas, is full of surprises and events that the average gringo would find too strange to be true. Such was the case of a recent robbery in the state of Veracruz. Three men were caught stealing 15 cows, which is a very significant asset and someone’s actual livelihood if you subsist by raising crops and producing farming goods such as milk. So they of course had to be punished in some way, and because people in some areas of Mexico (and we would dare to say in the country at large) mistrust the authorities, some citizens take matters in their own hands.

This is a symptom of a decades-long mistrust in the authorities or the real repercussions that criminals will face given the high levels of corruption at all levels of government that the new administration wished to eradicate (just how they pretend to do it remains largely unclear!). 

So first things first: yes, this was their punishment for stealing the cows, holding hands while totally naked

Credit: @QuePocaMadre_MX / Twitter

The punishment by public nudity took place in Suchilapan del Río, in the municipality of Jesús Carranza in Veracruz. The three men were caught right con las manos en la masa. The man who recorded the video, which has made its rounds on Mexican social media, made the robbers confess to their crime while naked and holding hands in the middle of the street. According to La Verdad Noticias, one of these men is a butcher, which makes perfect sense given that he was attempting to steal cattle. They are standing on Independencia street, right in front of the meat producers association. 

The news was broken by the Twitter news dissemination site @QuePocaMadre_MX which translates into something like “You gotta be kidding me, that’s rough, man!” 

The case has not been completely solved and whether the authorities have done anything on this matter is unclear. The case has garnered some attention in local media, so we might hear more about this. It is important to note, however, that while highly unlikely the video might actually be staged (we gotta at least entertain that possibility until we know otherwise!). 

The story might seem funny or chusca at first, but if you dig a bit under the surface there is a far darker undertone.

Credit: @QuePocaMadre_MX / Twitter

For one, the video evidences an almost total gap of authority in this municipality. The fact that these guys (criminals, if we are being honest) were forced to display public nudity to atone for their actions is almost laughable, but it also shows that law enforcement in the are has been decimated to reach a level of ridicule that can make headlines. Let’s not forget that Veracruz is one of the most violent states in the country, and since Los Zetas emerged in the 2000s and challenged the Cartel del Golfo, it has also become an epicenter of the cartel wars. This lack of government action lends itself to semi-funny situations but should not be taken lightly. 

The people made them hold hands, which is a clear sign of homophobic mob mentality.

The fact that the men were forced to hold hands and do a display of pretend homoeroticism is also an indicative of the prevailing homophobic views shared by some Mexicans. In everyday Mexican lingo, words that denote a queer identity are used as token insults and one of the cruelest ways to harm diverse genres and sexualities is making them an insult. We also have to consider that Veracruz has a very dark history when it comes to hate crimes against the LGBTQ community. Crimes against trans individuals, for example, are common and most of the times end up in impunity. Even though same-sex marriage is legal, measures such a conversion therapy are legal as well. 

And there is a thin thin line that separates forcing three men to get naked and an actual lynching, which has been a sad and brutal feature in contemporary Mexico.

Perhaps this story might seem amusing at first, but it also recalls some recent incidents in Mexico in which criminals are caught by the population instead of the authorities and then things escalate and lynching happens. People have been bashed to death, set on fire and dismembered in public. In some instances the lynched are guilty of crimes, often of sexual nature, but it has been the case that a disgruntled neighbor starts a rumor that has fatal consequences. Because there is such a climate of uneasiness and impunity in the country, people have even ambushed police cars carrying suspects. We are of course not saying that justice should not be served, but when it is an eye for an eye everyone ends up blind.

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