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Mexican Police Recover Burned Remains of Kidnapped Congressman

By: Belén Marty - @belenmarty - Sep 29, 2014, 4:25 pm
Close to 4,000 people attended the funeral of Mexican Congressman Gómez Michel and his assistant Heriberto Núñez.
Close to 4,000 people attended the funeral of Mexican Congressman Gómez Michel and his assistant Heriberto Núñez. (@Raffael_Del)

EspañolMexican federal prosecutors confirmed on Thursday that one of two burned bodies recovered from a car in the state of Zacatecas is that of Congressman Gabriel Gómez Michel.

On Monday, September 22, armed men kidnapped the 49-year-old PRI legislator in broad daylight, along with his assistant Heriberto Núñez Ramos, while the pair were on their way to the Guadalajara airport in the state of Jalisco.

Police identified the second body as the congressman’s assistant, Núñez Ramos. Although no arrests have been made, prosecutors believe drug traffickers to be responsible for the attack.

Highway security cameras show that over the course of a few minutes, a group of six vehicles surrounded the congressman’s SUV, forcing Gómez Michel and Núñez Ramos out of the car.

The Congressman, elected to office as a Green Party representative but later joined the Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI), did not travel with bodyguards, unlike most Mexican politicians.

According to an article in El Universal Mexico, his fellow party members said Gómez Michel did not take enough precaution. “Why do you have those [bodyguards]? If you do things right, God will protect you,” the congressman was often heard saying.

Prosecutors in charge of the case said they are continuing to look for evidence to “establish the facts and bring those responsible for the double murder to justice.” The motives for the crime remain unknown.

According to Luis Carlos Nájera, a prosecutor from Jalisco, the “terrible coordination between police forces” may have contributed to the congressman’s murder.

Nájera said Gómez Michel had never reported any threats made against him or any reason to fear for his life.

The prosecutor also noted they have been unable to determine whether the congressman was beaten or tortured before his death, given the condition of his remains.

The police have discarded the possibility that the congressman was kidnapped for monetary gain, since the murder occurred less than 24 hours after Gómez Michel disappeared, and his family did not receive demands for a ransom.

Cartel behind the Murder?

According to the Zacatecas prosecutor, the New Generation cartel has the strongest presence among drug trafficking gangs in the state of Jalisco. Police discovered at least 17 bodies buried in southern Guadalajara in February. In March 2013, members of the New Generation cartel shot and killed the Tourism secretary, according to Mexican police. Prosecutors convicted one of the leaders of the cartel, Nemesio Oseguera (El Mencho), for having ordered the assassination.

“Every citizen is important, but in terms of the position [of Gómez Michel] and the way he was kidnapped and assassinated, it speaks to the incredibly vulnerable position that certain parts of the country are in,” explained Javier Oliva, a public security expert at the National Autonomous University of Mexico (UNAM) to AFP representatives.

Since 2006, when the active policy to fight the drug traffickers was established by then President Felipe Calderón, 80,000 people have been victims to drug cartel-related crimes.

The last notable murder of a politician occurred when a candidate for governor in Tamaulipas was shot to death in 2011.

The Consequences of his Death

More than 4,000 people attended Gómez Michel’s funeral in Grullo, Jalisco, including the Jalisco Governor Aristóteles Sandoval, local politicians, colleagues in parliament, and the president of the University of Guadalajara, Tonatiuh Bravo.

In addition, on Tuesday, Congress held a moment of silence in memory of their murdered colleague. Silvano Aureoles, president of the Chamber of Congress, spoke out in solidarity and respect for Gómez Michel’s family, friends and PRI colleagues, and asked prosecutors to solve the case immediately.

“We don’t want Congressman Gómez Michel’s death to be just another statistic among the many dead in our country. The problem of insecurity in Mexico today is serious, and it demands the attention of the Mexican government,” said Aureoles.

“We cannot grow accustomed to crime and violence sheltered in impunity.”

The coordinator for the Democratic Revolution Party (PRD), Miguel Alonso Raya, addressed these safety issues said that Gómez Michel’s murder has undoubtedly shaken Congress.

“We must push forward a comprehensive policy for public security that can really combat crime, with the highest level of consensus between public forces,” Raya urged.

Translated by Laura Weiss.

Belén Marty Belén Marty

Belén Marty is the Libertarian Latina, a journalist based in Buenos Aires, Argentina. She has lived in Guatemala, Jordan, the United Arab Emirates, and the United States and is a former candidate for local office with Argentina's Libertarian Party. Follow @BelenMarty.