Home' Greymouth Star : September 9th 2014 Contents Greymouth Star
n Mexico’s blood-soaked
northern state of Sinaloa, a simple
gravestone adorned with pink, blue
and yellow plastic flowers marks
the tomb of 42-year-old assistant
carpenter Carlos Montano.
But Montano is alive and well in the city
of Tijuana, hundreds of miles away near the
United States border, the victim of different
enemies: incompetence and indifference
in a land where authorities have failed to
identify thousands of people killed in grisly
“L egally, I’m dead,” Montano said,
standing in the same Tijuana street where
his death certificate says he was gunned
down with shots to the neck and chest.
“They buried me to banda,” he said,
referring to a brass-based traditional music
genre popular in Mexico.
Who the bullet-riddled corpse buried
in his coffin last year in the western beach
resort of Mazatlan belongs to is anyone’s
In a gross comedy of errors, Montano is
now in legal limbo as he tries to reinstate his
identity with the public records office. His
“death” illustrates the administrative chaos
that families of drug war victims often face
For many, the nightmare never ends.
“All I want is to find my daughter,” Luz
del Carmen Flores said, clutching a photo
of Angelica, who disappeared in the violent
border city of Ciudad Juarez in 2008. Aged
19, she left her home one day in search of
work and never returned.
Flores has searched relentlessly for
Angelica, looking in seedy bars, travelling
to follow up leads and regularly standing in
public squares with pictures in case someone
recognised her daughter.
Police called her in to review two bodies,
neither of which was Angelica. Beyond that,
Flores say they have done nothing to help
her and others looking for missing relatives.
“They want me to look for her accepting
that she is dead, but I look for her alive.
The only information they have is what
we investigate using our own money and
risking our own lives. Those who took them
don’t want us looking for them.”
“For these past six years, I have felt like a
Authorities’ failure to catch the killers in
the vast majority of cases or even identify
many of the dead is largely down to poor
police work and a haphazard patchwork of
forensic ser vices across Mexico.
It also helps fuel impunity and further
violence. More than 100,000 people have
been killed since former President Felipe
Calderon ordered a military offensive
against drug gangs in late 2006, a move that
led to waves of extreme violence.
Despite repeated requests, the Attorney-
General’s office did not say how many
victims are yet to be identified.
But partial figures from the National
Human Rights Commission offer a glimpse:
Between 2006 and 2011, more than half of
the 40,000 people reported killed in armed
confrontations were never identified.
Since 2006, only 336 of some 2,000
corpses exhumed from mass graves scattered
across the country have been matched with
a name, according to official data.
The figures often do not match those
reported by state authorities. D urango state
reported 300 corpses were found in mass
graves in 2011, but data from the Attorney-
General’s office mentioned just 20 bodies.
Even when remains are officially identified,
terrible mistakes have been made.
Elvira Garcia has spent the past decade
looking for the remains of her husband, who
was kidnapped and murdered in Tijuana.
His remains were then buried by authorities
in a mass grave.
She knows her husband is dead because
she saw a photograph of his corpse posted
on the website of Tijuana’s forensic ser vice.
But then she found that someone else’s
file accompanied the picture, and that
her husband had been misidentified as a
kidnapper rather than a victim.
Desperate, she obtained a permit and
paid a funeral agency 50,000 pesos ($4609)
to exhume his remains. But his body was
not there and Garcia now believes it is in
another mass grave.
“ We have had to endure so many things,
even humiliation,” said Garcia, who works
as a factory accountant. “After all this time,
you wind up devastated as a family. All we
want to know is where he is. Why have
there been so many errors?”
Experts say Mexican institutions use
flimsy forensic protocols. Latin America’s
No 2 economy also lacks a centralised
database that would enable cross-checking
of unidentified remains against lists of
“The problem isn’t the technology, that ’s
available, but rather the way the data is
gathered,” said Christof Heyns, the United
Nations special rapporteur on extra-judicial
President Enrique Pena Nieto has
staked his reputation on pushing through
ambitious economic reforms, especially in
energy and telecoms, and some researchers
and victims believe his government does not
view modernising forensic procedures and
identifying the disappeared as priorities.
Pena Nieto recently made good on
a campaign pledge to launch a new
Gendarmerie police force to fight drug
violence. But it is a fraction of the planned
size and its mandate is now to protect
productive sectors of the economy hit by
extortion, like mining and agriculture.
Little is being done to fix the
shortcomings in identifying human remains
that have led to dramatic mistakes, like
sending corpses to the wrong families.
A report by the Inter-American
Commission on Human Rights noted the
case of a Honduran man who was killed
in a 2010 massacre of 72 mainly Central
American migrants on a ranch in the
northern Mexican state of Tamaulipas.
Three months later, his mother received
a sealed coffin filled only with a black
briefcase, 17 plastic bags and a piece of meat
mixed with dirt and worms.
Montano’s family was never allowed to
view the corpse believed to be his. No
explanation was given, and instead they
were asked to confirm his identity using
Other family members had their doubts
but ultimately confirmed his identity
because they did not want the remains to be
buried in a mass grave in case it was him.
“I saw the photos and even though I hadn’t
seen him in 10 years, I knew it wasn’t him,”
Anselmo Mora, Montano’s half brother,
“I asked if the body was missing a testicle,
like Carlos. They told me it was.” The family
believes it was a lie, however.
Pena Nieto’s government says it has
purged a list dating from Calderon’s
administration, and that there are 22,322
missing persons in Mexico.
The actual list has not been made publicly
available. Asked for a copy, Mexico’s public
records authority said it had no knowledge
At a recent forensic operation on the
outskirts of the northern border city of
Mexicali, a small group of officials poked
the desert surface with metal rods in search
A trained dog sniffed at each hole but
seemed disoriented by the stench of garbage,
decomposing animals and raw sewage at the
site. After hours working under a blazing
sun, one officer found what appeared to be
human finger bones. He picked them up
with his bare hands and tucked them into a
small plastic bag, in violation of guidelines.
The operation was triggered by a tip-off
from a cartel member now in a witness
protection programme, but ultimately no
bodies were found that day.
Mexico’s violent cartels sometimes dissolve
victims’ corpses in acid, chop them into
many pieces or mix them with animal parts,
making identification extremely difficult.
Santiago Meza, a cartel butcher, admitted
in 2009 that he dissolved 300 bodies in acid
at a ranch just outside Tijuana. His drug
gang alias was ‘ The Stew Maker’.
Such is the challenge authorities face that
Ricardo Garcia, a top human rights official
at the national state prosecutor’s office, quit
in May saying he felt unable to help victims’
The problem is particularly acute on
Mexico’s border with the US, where some of
the bloodiest chapters of drug violence have
played out. Experts say thousands of people
are believed to be have buried by their killers
along the border.
Relatives of some of the missing refuse to
give up, saving a place at the dinner table,
celebrating their relatives’ birthdays and
even buying them Christmas gifts.
But most are resigned to the fact their kin
are dead and they simply hold out hope of
recovering their remains.
Garcia, the accountant, has all but lost
hope of burying her husband.
“They don’t even pick up the phone,”
Garcia said of Mexico’s authorities. “ The
truth is I don’t think the government is
going to do anything for us.” — Reuters
6 - Tuesday, September 9, 2014
A Catholic priest blesses a coffin containing an unidentified body at the San Rafael cemetery on the outskirts of Ciudad Juarez in
Corpses pile up in Mexican drug gang wars
New royal baby on way
William urges restraint as
Kate suffers in new pregnancy
Prince William has made a plea for
people to keep things in perspective
after a mini media frenzy greeted the
news that the Duke and Duchess of
Cambridge are having another baby.
William overnight revealed Kate
was having a “tricky few days” with
acute morning sickness which she also
suffered in 2012 when pregnant with
“S he’s feeling okay, thanks,” William
told reporters during a visit to Oxford.
“It’s been a tricky few days — week
or so — but obviously we’re immensely
thrilled, it’s great news, early days, we’re
hoping things settle down and she feels
a bit better. ”
The prince then made a plea which
he no doubt knew would be widely
“It’s important that we all focus on the
big news and the big international and
domestic things that are going on at the
moment,” the 32-year-old said.
Kate was meant to visit Oxford with
her husband overnight but instead stayed
in London where she was being cared
for by doctors at Kensington Palace.
It is believed the D uchess is not yet 12
Palace officials in 2012 chose to reveal
early on that Kate was expecting after
she was admitted to hospital with severe
Prince Harry seemed delighted at
the thought of William suffering more
“It’s very exciting news, I can’t wait
to see my brother suffer more,” he told
“ With any luck if it’s a girl he’ll suffer
even greater I think and I’d love to see
him try and cope with that.”
competitors training for his inaugural
Invictus Games for wounded soldiers.
When it was put to Harry that the
new addition to the royal family would
further reduce his own chances of being
King he laughed and replied: “Great!”
But jokes aside, William’s younger
brother also called for some restraint.
“I hope the two of them have the
opportunity to go through the process
again with a little bit of peace and quiet,”
Prince Harry said.
William’s uncle, Earl Spencer, told
London radio Kate’s pregnancy was
“such happy-making news”.
“I have never known a period of news
where things have looked so dark and
bleak around the world and to have this
pop up is just fantastic,” he said.
“It’s just making the nation a happier
The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge’s
next child will be fourth in line to the
throne behind Prince George. Harry will
be bumped down another rung to fifth.
The news of Kate’s pregnancy
comes as the United Kingdom faces a
potential split with Scotland voting on
independence on September 18.
Some in the Better Together camp
hope a baby bounce could boost the “No”
But Deputy Prime Minister Nick
Clegg refused to be drawn on whether
the news could help the campaign to
keep the union together.
“The last thing we should do with such
wonderful, heart-warming news which
will thrill the whole nation is to start
bringing politics into it,” Clegg said.
The head of the “ Yes” campaign,
Scotland’s First Minister Alex Salmond,
cheekily sent his best wishes using
William and Kate’s Scottish titles.
“Congratulations and best wishes to
the Earl and Countess of Strathearn,” he
“ Wonderful to hear they ’re expecting
their second baby. ”
It is speculated that Kate is due in
April. — A AP
PICTURE: Getty Images
The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge.
Ebola resurgent in contained areas
Doctors Without Borders closed
one of its Ebola treatment centres
in Guinea in May. They thought the
deadly virus was being contained
The Macenta region, right on the
Liberian border, had been one of
the first places where the outbreak
surfaced, but they had not seen a new
case for weeks. So they packed up,
leaving a handful of staff on standby.
The outbreak was showing signs of
slowing elsewhere as well.
Instead, new cases appeared across
the border in Liberia and then spread
across west Africa, carried by the
sick and dying. Now, months later,
Macenta is once again a hot spot.
The resurgence of the disease in a
place where doctors thought they
had it beat shows how history’s
largest Ebola outbreak has spun out
It began with people leaving homes
in Liberia to seek better care or
reunite with families back in Guinea,
a pattern repeating itself all over.
“Currently in Guinea, all the new
cases, all the new epidemic, are linked
to people that are coming back from
Liberia or from Sierra Leone,” Marc
Poncin, the emergency co-ordinator
for Doctors Without Borders in
The epidemic also has touched
Nigeria and Senegal while killing
more than 2000 people across west
Africa. Never before has the disease
struck such a densely-populated
region, where so many people are
on the move. For four decades, the
virus struck in relatively remote areas,
where doctors could quickly isolate
communities and stop its spread.
In previous outbreaks, a cleared
pocket like Macenta would be easy to
This time, the virus is traveling
effortlessly across borders by plane,
car and foot, shifting from forests to
cities and springing up in clusters far
from any previously known infections.
Border closures, flight bans and mass
quarantines have been ineffective.
“ Everything we do is too small and
too late,” Poncin said. “ We’re always
running after the epidemic.”
Ebola has been able to follow its
own course because west Africa lacks
the health care workers it needs to
monitor potential carriers and train
communities in how to avoid catching
the disease. People in contact with
the sick have evaded sur veillance,
moving at will and hiding their
illnesses until they infect others in
turn. Whole villages, stricken by fear,
have repeatedly shut themselves off
for days or weeks, giving the virus
more opportunities to whip around
and skip elsewhere.
Dr Peter Piot, who co-discovered
Ebola, said Ebola is not striking
in a “ linear fashion” this time. It is
hopping around, especially in Liberia,
Guinea and Sierra Leone.
“The epidemic is now so vast
and so extensive that one should
consider that in the three (hardest-
hit) countries, everybody is now at
risk and it won’t be over until the last
case has sur vived and six weeks have
passed,” Piot, who runs London’s
School of Hygiene and Tropical
In mid-August, Guinea’s health
ministry announced 30 new cases in
the Macenta region, the first recorded
in months. Many were Guinean
citizens who had been living in
Liberia and were therefore allowed
to return through closed border
crossings. These returnees infected
their families and neighbours, and so
now there is active transmission in
Doctors Without Borders has
returned to Macenta as well, opening
a transit centre more than a week ago
at the site of its old clinic where it
screens patients. As of the beginning
of this month, the Health Ministry
said 45 people from Macenta
were being treated at an expanded
treatment centre at Gueckedou. The
charity would like to open treatment
centres in both towns, but it does not
have enough staff.
Authorities are now restricting
access to the region’s main city, also
called Macenta, where fear has again
“ I have the impression that time
has stopped in Macenta, that the city
has shrunk,” Siniman Kouroumah,
a 42-year-old teacher, said. “ We
are afraid to walk the city, to eat
anywhere, to drink anywhere.”
Poncin said he, too, has felt a shift,
but for the better: People in Macenta
are now afraid of dead bodies,
running away from them rather than
scooping them up for traditional
burials. Villagers who used to throw
stones at the health workers tracing
contacts now seek their help.
Communities in many parts of
Guinea are Ebola-free now, Dr Tom
Frieden, the CDC’s director, said on a
recent visit to Guinea. “ The challenge
is that the region is really one entity,
and it ’s so important that we get it
right in all places.”
Getting it right in all places
requires simultaneously imposing
the same three measures anywhere
Ebola appears, Poncin said: Isolating
the sick, tracing and monitoring
everyone they have come into contact
with, and ensuring infected bodies
are buried safely.
Guinea is doing this fairly well, but
Sierra Leone is not doing enough,
and Liberia is barely doing any
contact-tracing, Poncin said.
That means officials do not know
where people are at risk, making it
almost impossible to prevent or at
least contain new cases. — AP
Three Italian nuns were found killed,
two of them raped and decapitated, over
the weekend in the north of Burundi’s
capital, officials and a priest in the
African State said overnight.
Police said three suspects had been
detained for questioning. A motive was
not immediately clear.
Father Mario Pulicini, who is
responsible for the parish in a northern
suburb of Bujumbura, named two of the
nuns as Lucia Pulici, who was 75 and due
to celebrate her birthday yesterday, and
Olga Raschietti, 82. He said they were
found decapitated in their dormitory on
The third nun, 79-year-old Bernadetta
Boggian, was found dead early yesterday
morning, he said. The killings appeared
to have happened at two separate times,
“ It is very difficult to know the reason
behind the killing, but nothing can
justify it,” Fr Mario said.
Evidence showed that two of the
nuns had been raped before they were
killed, police spokesman Hermenegilde
Harimenshi said. They had been
Italy’s Foreign Ministry also reported
the three murders. The Vatican said
Pope Francis was “greatly saddened” by
“ Pope Francis has learned with great
sadness of the murder of three nuns,”
Vatican Secretary of State Cardinal
Pietro Parolin said in a telegram sent on
the Pope’s behalf.
The Pope offered condolences in
the “tragic death” of the nuns to their
families, the local parishioners and the
sisters’ order, the Xavarian Missionary
Sisters of Mary.
The Catholic diocese in Parma, Italy,
said on its website that the death of
Pulici and Raschietti appeared to have
been “the tragic outcome of an armed
robbery by a mentally unbalanced
The two nuns had ser ved in Burundi
for seven years, after working several
years in the east of another central
African State, the Democratic Republic
of Congo. — Reuters
Boko Haram fighters killed
The Cameroonian government says
its soldiers killed “more than 100” Boko
Haram fighters during an attempted
incursion by the Nigeria-based Islamist
insurgents into its territory.
The Cameroonian army has dealt
“a severe setback” to Boko Haram,
government spokesman Issa Tchiroma
Bakary said in a statement read out on
State radio, adding the clashes took place
in the north of the country on Saturday.
It was not immediately possible to
independently verify the information.
According to the government
statement, Boko Haram militants fired
two shells on the town of Fotokol in
Cameroon’s northern tip, on the border
with Nigeria, on Saturday.
“There were no casualties on the
Cameroonian side,” it said.
“Our defence forces responded
vigorously with mortar fire aimed at
the positions held by units of the Boko
Haram terrorist group that was behind
the attack. “ The Cameroonian response
resulted in over 100 deaths among the
aggressors,” it said. — AFP
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