What lies beneath
Told about Jesus, told about the rain,
Told me about the jungle where her brothers were slain
By a man who danced on the roof of the embassy. - Bob Dylan
I've just time today to briefly note a story from Mexico that may remind readers of many other stories (with thanks to starroute for the thread on the RI discussion board):
Writer Who Exposed Child Sex Ring Fears Worst Is Yet to Come
MEXICO CITY, Feb 24 (IPS) - When Mexican freelance journalist and human rights activist Lydia Cacho published a book last year exposing a paedophile ring ["Los demonios del Edén" (The Demons of Eden)], she was warned by friends and colleagues that she would run into trouble.
It did not take long for their warnings to come true. She was arrested by the police, driven 900 kms to the state of Puebla, held for 30 hours, mistreated and threatened. Now that she is the target of the wrath of powerful Mexican businessmen and politicians, she is worried that the worst is yet to come.
More recently, she was dragged into a scandal after a dozen taped telephone conversations were leaked to the press and broadcast on Feb. 14. In the obscenity-laced conversations, a voice identified as that of Mario Marín, the governor of the state of Puebla, can be heard telling a man who is allegedly textile mogul Kamel Nacif that "I just gave a bump on the head to that old witch."
In her book, Cacho described Nacif as a friend of Jean Succar, a Lebanese-born businessman who is facing charges of arranging paedophile parties.
The illegally taped phone conversations attributed to the governor and various individuals, including a reporter, apparently took place in December, after Cacho was taken into custody by the police in the southeastern resort town of Cancún and driven to Puebla.
In the conversations, the voices identified as those of Nacif and Marín discuss how they had the activist arrested and thrown into a cell with "nutcases and dykes (lesbians)," so that she would be raped. That did not happen, however, because in the prison in Puebla, "the prisoners themselves and the guards protected me," said the writer. But she was mistreated. Cacho described how she was threatened during the nearly 20-hour trip to Puebla and was only allowed to eat once.
Cacho, who is also the co-founder of the Centro Integral de Apoyo a la Mujer (CIAM), a shelter for victims of domestic violence and rape in her home base of Cancún, interviewed many of Succar's victims for her book. The youngsters described how the hotel owner sexually abused them himself, set up a prostitution ring to allow others to abuse them, and photographed them in order to sell the pornographic images on the Internet.
This case is just one thread in a vast web of similar rings throughout Mexico.
Nacif, as his friend Succar, is a Lebanese emigre with a nasty reputation that long precedes the publication of Cacho's book. Mexico's "King of Denim" has "the unsavory habit of frequently changing the name of his many companies, in order to avoid paying debts, taxes and accumulated worker benefits to those laid off." And six years ago the Sun Herald wrote that "Mexican textile magnate Kamel Nacif has been a familiar face at Las Vegas gambling tables for some 30 years, using phony identification to wager at Caesars Palace when he was still in his late teens. He remains, however, a bit of a multimillionaire mystery man, long suspected by Nevada Gaming Control Board agents of money laundering and arms and narcotics dealing."
(Coincidentally, it was an expat Lebanese crime family operating in the Caribbean Basin that FBI undercover operative Darlene Novinger was investigating in 1982, when she reportedly, and unfortunately, discovered the Bush family implicated in its narcotics trade.)
Nacif filed his suit in the south central province of Puebla, where most of his textile sweatshops are located, and where he could call on his friend the governor to protect his good name, though the crimes in which he is implicated occured in Cancún. (Where last week, a Canadian couple had their throats slit in their hotel room on the eve of their daughter's wedding. Nothing was stolen and the wife was not raped, and Mexican authorities are being markedly uncooperative.) The scandal "of personal power and cronyism" is likely to cost Marin his governorship, but as El Universal editorialized yesterday, that's just the public scandal of "the powerful protecting the powerful." Behind it "is something much more hideous."
There certainly seems to be something about Mexico, and at least some of that has to do with its proximity to hidden American hands. It was allegedly the destination of the children and their minders in the troubling Finders case. ("Once in custody the men were somewhat evasive in their answers to the police regarding the children and stated only that they both were the children's teachers and that all were enroute to Mexico to establish a school for brilliant children.") In little more than a decade, thousands of young women, mostly factory workers, have been raped, tortured and murdered in the borderland maquiladoras without justice being served. ("We believe this is a binational crime," says Emma Perez of the Coalition Against Violence Toward Women and Families on the Border. "And because it's happening on an international border, it requires international involvement," she says. "How many more women have to be murdered for this to be taken seriously?") In November 2004, a crowd "angry about recent child kidnappings cornered plainclothes federal agents taking photos of students at a school on Mexico City's outskirts and burned the officers alive." And as David McGowan writes in Programmed to Kill, one of Henry Lee Lucas's more extravagent claims was that he laboured for a cult as an "abductor of children, whom he delivered to a ranch in Mexico near Juarez. Once there, they were used in the production of child pornography and for ritual sacrifices. Henry has said that this cult's operations were based in Texas, and included trafficking in children and drugs."
Ugly things lie buried everywhere, though in the United States you might not know it if all you know is broadcast journalism. And that's most Americans. Until they regenerate a legitimate media, it may take looking elsewhere, where the graves are more shallow, to see what lies beneath.