From 2008 until this date, the civil society has promoted 13 requests of Alert of Gender in 10 entities in Mexico. However, the emergency mechanism to fight feminicide violence in the determined territory has never been declared, a faculty that competes to the Secretariat of the Interior (Segob). In accordance with its ineffectiveness, the resources tagged for the alert show a lack of expenditure. The National Committee for the Prevention and Eradication of Violence against Women (Conavim) refers to the fact that in 2011 and 2014 only 49% of the 7 million pesos destined to that end were disbursed. For the current fiscal year a major lack of expenditure is expected, as out of a total of 8 million only 180 thousand have been spent.
The authorities of the State of Mexico have assured that the two femurs and the skulls found inside a plastic bag floating in the Los Remedios River were of his daughter Mariana Elizabet Yánez Reyes. On the 17th of September 2014 the young women of 18 years old left her home located in the district of Héroes de Tecamac, in the State of Mexico bound for the stationary shop, since then her whereabouts remain unknown.
An alleged DNA test in charge of the Prosecutor’s Office of the State of Mexico (PGJEM) would endorse the official statement. That is just hot air as far as the authorities did not provide to Bernardo Yáñez and Guadalupe Reyes, parents of the girl, any evidence of the genetic study applied.
Therefore Guadalupe and Bernardo solicited an exhumation of the skeletal remains, which beforehand had been put without any authorization in a mass grave of the Municipal Pantheon of Nextlalpan, in the eastern State of Mexico. It took six months to have a response to their request, given the resistance of the personnel of the local Prosecutor’s Office, which at some moment wanted to bring the case to a tribunal the decision to undergo or not to the exhumation.
The day finally came that nearby the tomb Guadalupe asked for certainties. She wanted to know once and for all if the bones found in the sewage were or not those of her daughter, that girl that attended the first semester of the degree in engineering.
She and her husband were the first to arrive to the mausoleum, followed by the delegation of the local public servants led by Irma Millán Velázquez, head of the Special Prosecutor’s Office for Feminicides in the State of Mexico. Minutes after 8 ‘o clock of the 19th of April 2015, a bright morning with dry heat, there would be the presence of representatives of civil organizations, a small group of journalists, mostly foreign press correspondents of international media outlets, as well as members of the Mexican Team of Forensic Anthropology (EMAF) that participated in the procedure of exhumation.
The fence of the gate of the pantheon of Nextlalpan was already secured when a third group arrived. The presence of a local reporter alerted the authorities. Armed men, some of them dressed with blue vests displaying the logo of the local prosecutor’s office refused to grant her access to the cemetery. Tension rose immediately. The presence of human rights defenders and media outlets disturbed the state authorities.
The parents of Mariana in company of the attorneys managed to trespass the official fence, as well as a group of independent legal experts. Minutes later, after the lobbying with the civil society, the authorities endorsed the entry of the particular psychologist of the family Yáñez Reyes.
Given the fact that the mass grave is located in the front area of the pantheon of Nextlalpan, the press representatives managed to take some panoramic shots of the exhumation. There were even those who climbed on a chair to jump over the fence that borders the territory of the dead. The anger of the authorities immediately rose along with the threat to cancel the exhumation entirely. This did not happen. However on the spot a group of policemen surrounded the area with the aim to restrict the access to the present people.
The tension was rising. Inside the cemetery, the lawyers tried to convince the prosecutor of feminicide of the importance of transferring the extracted remains to a laboratory in order to avoid the contamination and thus, warranty the chain of custody. The prosecutor, in this sense, insisted on taking the evidence on the spot, alluding at first issues of “sanity”, and further on, openly upon a previous agreement between the federal and local authorities.
With the intent to disengage the discussion which lasted for hours, the members of the National Citizens Observatory (OCNF)- who from the civil society support the struggle of Mariana´s parents for truth and justice-, contacted by phone Dilcya Samantha García Espinoza de los Monteros, Deputy Prosecutor for the Attention of Offenses related with Gender Violence of the State of Mexico. She instead defended the line of the Prosecutor. She referred to the impossibility of doing more, according to her, much had been achieved with the approval of the exhumation, an unprecedented case for the State of Mexico.
After several calls, arrangements and irritations, the public servants gave in before the insistence of the civil society and the vigilant eye of the human rights groups and media outlets. Hence, shortly after noon of the 19th of April, the presumed remains of Mariana Elizabet Yáñez Reyes were extracted, with the help of independent legal experts of the mass grave of the pantheon of Nextlalpan and transferred to the Forensic Medical Service of Toluca for the extraction of samples and its anthropological and genetic study afterwards.
Bernardo and Guadalupe are awaiting the scientific results of the analysis of the mortal remains, to determine with certainty the way to go.
In 7 years, more than 30 million pesos for the Gender Alert
The episode of the exhumation is meaningful not only because, as Dilcya García manifested, it would be the first case to be put in practice in the entity, but also because it reflects clearly the lack of understanding, that within the Mexican context has become common among authorities and victims of offenses and violations of human rights, those later ones followed by civil society groups, this permanent follow-up to being necessary to get the authorities to comply thoroughly and with openness their duty.
In the subject of the Gender Violence Alert (AVG), a mechanism of emergency conceived in 2007 to confront and eradicate the violence against women in any given territory, something similar happens. From April 2008 until today the civil society has promoted 13 requests of alert for 10 entities of the country (Oaxaca, Guanajuato, State of Mexico, Nuevo Leon, Hidalgo, Morelos, Chiapas, Colima, Michoacán, and Baja California); but this has never been declared a competence of the federal government through the Secretariat of the Interior (Segob).
Out of the information provided by the Committee of Gender Equality of the Chamber of Deputies led by Martha Lucía Mícher Camarena and by the National Committee to Prevent and Eradicate the Violence against Women (Conavim), dependent of the Segob, can be said that from 2008 until 2015 32 and 34 million pesos have been allocated from the public funds for the operation of the AVG.
It must be stated that that the numbers reported by the Committee of Equality and by the Conavim differ one to another. The difference being that while the former reports 2 million pesos for the fiscal year 2012 and 2013 (1 million pesos each year), the later manifests that within that period no funds were allocated to the aforementioned program.
Symptomatic to the dysfunctionality of the mechanism, there is an alert of budgetary under-spending since 2008, a year where it was of 100% of the destined budgetary resources for this mechanism. Also, as a response to the request for public information 0000400156615, the Conavim referred that out of the 7 million pesos received between 2011 and 2014, only 49% were disbursed, i.e., 3,406,978.77 pesos.
In 2011, the entity dependent of the Segob exerted only half of the 2 million pesos that were at its disposal; these were used to elaborate a study on good governance in the access to women to a life free of violence and on the procedure of declaratory of the alert. In 2014, related with the 5 million labelled for this subject, only 2,406,978.22 pesos were exerted in an investigation on the levels, tendencies and context of the different types of violence against women in the State of Mexico and Chiapas; in travel expenses; as well as in the expenditures of the attention of the alert in Guanajuato.
For the fiscal exercise of the current year, under the section “actions of contribution for the Gender Alert”, the Conavim received a total amount of 8 million pesos, of which barely 179,949.71 pesos have been spent for travel expenditures of the experts that travel to take part of the diverse investigations of alert requests.
The administration of 17 million pesos granted until 2010 (15 million in 2008 and 2 million in 2009 and 2010) went in charge of the Promotion and Human Rights Defense Unit of the Segob. Since 2011, the administration of public funds is in charge of the Conavim.
Malú Micher comments that neither the government of Felipe Calderón Hinojosa nor the one of Enrique Peña Nieto has delivered to the legislative branch a disaggregated report that reflects on what that money for the Gender Violence Alert has been employed.
The new aim: to declare alerts on a municipal level
The encounter of civil society and the authorities in charge to declare the Gender Violence Alert has reached the tribunals.
After the negative response of the institutions to even perform the investigation to determine the place of origin of the Alert for the State of Mexico, Nuevo Leon and Chiapas, the petitioning organizations disputed through an amparo lawsuit the decision of the National System for the Prevention, Attention, Sanctions and Eradication of Violence against Women (SNPASEVM), integrated solely by the governmental representatives, that resolved the inadmissibility of the mechanism in these entities.
In all three cases, the petitioners (the Defense and Promotion Committee of Human Rights, and the OCFN in the State of Mexico; Arthemisas for the Equity in Nuevo Leon; the Group of Women of San Cristobal de las Casas and the Human Rights Center for Women of Chiapas, respectively) won their cases. The Judicial Power sentenced the SNPASEVM to undertake the investigation in each entity. The sentence however, has not been abided. Until now the results of the compulsory investigations have not been released.
In the body of the response to the information request realized by Contralínea to know the destined and exerted budget in the concept of AVG, the Conavim, led by Alejandra Negrete Morayta, reveals that the corresponding reports of the investigations of the State of Mexico and Chiapas are in the phase of integration and find themselves close to drafting the conclusion.
For the case of the State of Nuevo Leon, the Conavim informs that the past 17th of April an inter-institutional group was installed to realize the investigation of the solicited alert.
During a recent meeting with members of the OCNF, Roberto Campa Cifrián, Deputy Secretary of Human Rights of the Segob, pronounced himself in this sense. According to Maria de la Luz Estrada Mendoza, executive coordinator of the alliance made up by 36 organizations on human and women’s rights, the public servant assured them that the fight against feminicides is a priority for the federal government, thus over this month the pending reports will be released, followed by the respective declarations of AVG.
Nevertheless the Deputy Secretary of Human Rights stated that, without further details, that the alerts would be declared on a municipal level, and not on a the state level anymore, something which in the view of Estrada Mendoza waters down the responsibility of the state and federal governments in this concern.
In the meeting with the members of the OCNF, who also are the petitioners of the Alert for the State of Mexico, Campa Cifrián would have committed to equally call up a meeting between governors to establish a plan of joint actions for the struggle against feminicides.
The before mentioned governmental interest contrasts with what occurred at the end of the second period of ordinary sessions of the 62nd Union Congress.
On December 2014, Martha Lucía Mícher Camarena, MP President of the Committee of Gender Equality, presented before the plenum of representatives an initiative of comprehensive reform of the General Women’s Access to a Life Free of Violence Act (LGAMVLV). This project where specialists and civil society organizations contributed addressed several issued such as the protective orders, the shelters, the Justice Centers and the AVG. In the last case it foresees a restructuration process in order to extend, for example, the period for the integration of the investigations and to create a Committee of Experts, the same that as it is said, would contribute to professionalize and grant further impartiality to the mechanism.
The verdict of the reform was approved by the Equality Committee, but in the midst of last April, when it was at the brink of being put into discussion by the whole of the legislators, Mícher Camarena withdrew it for “political prudence” –as it is commented-, after that the deputies of the Revolutionary Institutional Party (PRI) requested it with the reasoning that the Segob had not studied it in depth.
The alert is reformed
On the 25th of November 2013 the reforms to the regulations of the LGAMVLV were published in the Federal Official Gazette (of Mexico), that according to the official version aim to “strengthen” the AVG, whose main objective is to warranty the security of women, the end of violence against them, as well as the elimination of the inequality product of a legislation that aggravates the human rights.
Since then five requests have been promoted: for Guanajuato, Morelos, Colima, Michoacán, and Baja California. Same as it occurred in the older regulation, none has ended in any declaratory.
The Conavim informs, via a response to an public information request, that in those five cases the reports have already been released in accordance with the new regulation. Those documents drafted by the Work Group-made up by the representatives of the Nacional Institute of Women (Inmujeres), one by the Conavim, one by the mechanism for the Promotion of Women of the given entity, one by the National Committee of Human Rights (CNDH) and four by the academic institutions or specialized investigation in violence against women- would achieve, that departing from the analysis and context studies of violence against women in the mentioned territory would reach a scientific interpretation of the facts and issued a proposal of preventive actions, of security and justice.
The requests of Guanajuato and Morelos, promoted by the Las Libres Center of Information on Sexual Health and by the Independent Committee of Human Rights of the State of Morelos, respectively, find themselves in an advanced phase of procedure, as they were the first ones to be registered under the new rules.
In both cases, the local executive branch accepted the conclusions of the report in charge of the Work Group and had a period of 6 months to draft the proposed content of these. Now, according to the Conavim, the reports that the governors drafted to give account of the actions undertaken in this period “are under analysis to issue a respective verdict of the fulfilment or not of the proposals and conclusions”.
In the event that the verdict may result negative, i.e., that the Work Group determines that the proposals of its report have not been met, it would lead to a declaration of AVG by the Segob, conducted by the Conavim.
One of the main obstacles of the former regulation, drafted under the administration of Felipe Calderón, is that the sentence of the declaratory would fall to the SNPASEVM, made up only by public servants: the heads of the 10 dependencies of the public federal administration and of the 32 mechanisms for the promotion of women in the federal entities. This has led to the politicization and partisanship of the mechanism. Now, who decides is the Work Group, in which participate three authorities and one representative of the CNDH, but also four academic or specialized investigation institutions of violence against women (two national and two local ones).
The Guanajuato experience
By the end of March 2014 a request of declaratory of alert for Guanajuato was admitted. From 2013 until March 2014, 85 women would have been killed in the entity for gender reasons.
This is the third occasion that the civil society requests the activation of the mechanism in Guanajuato. The other two, processed under the rules of the old regulation, were denied by the SNPASEVM, same as what happened in the State of Mexico, Nuevo Leon, Hidalgo and Chiapas.
The request promoted by the Las Libres de Información en Salud Sexual Center (The Free Women of Information on Sexual Health) passed the first phase with ups and downs: it was admitted by the Conavim and the Inmujeres once that the requirements were met, a work group was conformed that, faced with the reality in Guanajuato, determined the feasibility, and hence directed 13 proposals of actions to the local executive branch, the same that accepted them and set a period of six months-that expired last January- to be met.
Veronica Cruz Sánchez, founder and director of the Las Libres Center, talks of this experience. She refers that, despite the fact that the modifications to the regulation were beneficial, inasmuch it conformed a Work Group with the participation of academic specialists and that recommendations to the government of Guanajuato were issued that “pushed it from inaction to action”, the representatives of the Conavim and Inmujeres that participated in the process represented an obstacle for being unable to contribute in this concern with solutions.
Until today, still there is no public knowledge of the verdict that will determine if the government of Guanajuato has met within the period of six months the 13 recommendations that were directed by the Work Group. However the civil society has its own balance, derived from its permanent monitoring.
According to Cruz Sánchez, the administration of Miguel Márquez, governor of the entity, met by 50 or 60% the whole of the recommendations. In her own words she said: “What he did was barely to start to work a route of what has to be done to effectively prevent, attend, sanction and eradicate the violence against women”.
Thus, and with strict allegiance with what is established by the current regulation, the next step would consist in the imminent issuance of a declaratory by the AVG on behalf of the Segob, by which according to the director of the Las Libres Center, would imply that the Mexican State and the State of Guanajuato shall do “everything to eliminate the issue”. To activate the mechanism would be also appropriate, as while it remains as an ornamental instrument it will be impossible to value its true reach, and thus determine whether it needs any adjustments.
From this experience Cruz Sánchez concludes that there has been progress. She points out that the processed request under the applicable regulation has put in evidence the Mexican State as a whole-not only for Guanajuato-, as it has aroused the official acknowledgement of the existence “of an extreme violence against women, which is a feminicide; this being a consequence of the nonexistence, on a national level of a policy related with the prevention, attention, sanction and eradication of the violence women, which implies laws, budget, public policy, programs, projects”.
Another contribution is the one that allowed the civil society the access to official statistic on violent crimes against women committed in the entity, the information that the Las Libres Center had tried to access without any success since its foundation, 15 years ago.
In the interest of improving the current procedure of the mechanism of declaratory of the AVG, Veronica Cruz proposes four modifications derived from her experience as a petitioner of the request in the case of Guanajuato: that the deadline of 30 days on which the Work Group counts on, shall be extended to draft the report; that the organizations of the petitioning civil society participate in all phases of the process; than as long as the academic specialists of the Work Group do not receive a pay for their services, their participation shall be solely deliberative; and that the resources budgeted destined to the AVG mechanism shall be open, as “nobody knows on what these are spent”.
For the realization of this work, an interview was solicited since the 15th of May with Alejandra Negrete Morayta –head of the Conavim-, throughout the General Directorate of Social Communication of the Segob. The liaison was made through the public servant Karla Olmos by phone and by written form, with whom a communication line was upheld until the closing of this edition, without having had the opportunity to hold the interview.
Flor Goche, @flor_contra
(Translated by: Axel Plasa)
Contralínea 444 / del 06 al 12 de Julio 2015