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Thursday, October 13, 2005

buenos tardes amigo
( this is a classic tale of Mexican Justice 2002 stylee)

Mexican village buries both the crime and the criminal

In the remote Mexican village of Dios Rios, justice is meted
out by the town elders. When one resident killed his cousin,
he was delivered a truly gruesome punishment
Teofilo Gonzalez Cano stabbed his cousin to death with two
quick jabs to the heart. They had been the best of friends,
growing up together in the same mud brick house in this tiny
village in southern Mexico. But one night they drank
themselves nearly blind on homemade grain alcohol. An
argument about nothing got out of hand, and soon Vicente
Gonzalez Santiago lay dead in the dirt

Teofilo ran. They found him at dawn, sitting in a forest
clutching his empty bottle. The local farmer who served as
village constable, another cousin of Teofilo's, bound his
hands behind his back and brought him in. The whole village
was waiting, more than 300 people. They forced Teofilo to he
facedown next to Vicente's corpse. They shouted at him,
called him a murderer. His mother sat in the dirt next to
her son, pleading for mercy.

The nearest police were more than two hours' drive away and
there was no telephone in Dos Rios, hidden in rugged
mountains 180 miles southwest of Mexico City. Justice in
this backwater belongs to a half a dozen town elders, who
stood over the two cousins in their early 30s, one dead and
one accused, and debated the punishment that day in 1999.

Finally they agreed.
"They said the two of them. Should be buried together," said
Catarina Cano Santiago, Teofilo's mother.
According to Cano, other Dos Rios residents and human rights
investigators, the elders enlisted villagers to carry out
the sentence. Some of the men hacked a grave in the rocky
soil of the village cemetery. Someone banged together a
flimsy wooden coffin, and the villagers put Vicente's body
in it. They hoisted the box and began a procession down a
narrow cow path to the graveyard. Others dragged Teofilo
by the arms. Women and children followed, marching under a
hot sun past fields of dead corn.

They placed Vicente's coffin in the hole, then threw Teofilo
in on top, with his arms and legs tied together. He screamed
and begged for his life, calling out to his mother, "Please
don't let them do this to me!" She tried to help him, but
her neighbours and friends held her back. The law had
spoken, and no one would stand in its way..
Twenty men started throwing dirt into the hole with shovels
and sticks. Teofilo, screaming, tried to climb out His
14yearold son, Felipe, ran to him and tried to hug him and
pull him up. Someone tossed a lasso around Teofilo's neck
and jerked him back into the grave, ripping him from his
boy's embrace. They pulled the crying youth away from his
father as the dirt piled higher and higher on top of him,
until he disappeared into the ground.
'When they finished," said his mother, "you could still hear
him screaming under the ground ..."

Fewer than 400 people live in Dos Rios, in a cluster of
softbrick huts baked by a close, heavy sun. There is no
electricity, not a light bulb in town. A priest comes once a
year to say Mass in the crumbling Roman Catholic church. It
has been months since a police patrol passed through

There is no formal accounting of how many people are killed
in Mexico's rough rural justice every year. But human rights
groups estimate that hundreds have been killed and hundreds
more beaten over the years in punishments meted out beyond
official scrutiny. Barrera said at least 10 people a year
are killed in the region around Dos Rios in a form of local
justice ...

Francisco Estrada Rojas, who teaches at the elementary
school, said the elders ordered Teofilo to he buried alive
to "teach a big lesson".
Estrada said that when the police arrived a day after the
murders, they wanted to dig up the men to see for themselves
what had happened, and to put the two men in separate
graves. But local officials told the police that no one in
town would help them ... There is a widespread belief here
that the officers were paid a bribe forget about the whole

They didn't arrest anybody," Estrada said. 'Because they
would have had to arrest the whole community."

Kevin Sullivan In the Washington Post March 15

sketched by dweller at 11:21 pm
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