"There is a crisis in terms of the growth of violence and crime and a parallel erosion of authority and the rule of law. These lynchings acquire a double meaning. People lynch both the suspect and the symbol of authority." Raul Rodriguez Vuillen, professor, writer: Mexico Lynchings, 1988-2014
"If they were innocent, and I'm not saying they were, then this is a case of one group paying for the crimes of another."
"What happened the day of the lynchings is a situation that has been unraveling for some time now. One thing led to the other. In security, frustration, confusion and weariness."
Emanuel Petia, 33, Ajalpan, Mexico
"I can't imagine how this is happening in our country They stepped on every inch of my brothers' integrity, on all of t heir humanity."
Pablo Copado, brother of two lynched men
|Women place crosses and flowers where a mob beat, killed and burned two pollsters who were conducting a survey, in front of the Municipal Palace in Ajalpan, Puebla, Mexico, Wednesday, October 21, 2015. As police took the two men to City Hall to try to protect them, a crowd, of some 2,000 strong, began to pelt the building with rocks. The police chief, tried to move them to safety on the second floor. But townspeople broke inside and began trashing the place, as the men looked on in shock. (AP Photo/Marco Ugarte)|
Mexico has been a scene of drug cartel violence where gangs target one another to protect their turf, and authorities haven't seemed to be able to control the situation which also targets police if they think they can pursue their charged duties, and civilians who may happen to get in the line of fire of the gang wars. People were seeing the bodies of murdered drug dealers at the sides of roads, or hung in public places to deliver a message.
People also became acutely aware that sometimes municipal officials and the police they were told to trust, were taking a cut of the drug cartels' business. The abduction of 43 college students from Iguala who were setting out to attend a rally against corruption, and their murder and the revelation that the town's mayor and police chief were involved has done nothing to restore faith in the public that their political representatives and police are interested in bring security, law and order and justice to bear.
Little wonder that Mexican citizens are angered and frustrated and have no trust in their elected officials and their national police. But an event that happened in Ajalpan in southeastern Puebla state in October 2015 had few precedents and represented a reprehensible backlash against authorities by mortally and horribly victimizing two innocent young men. Their deaths seemed to be a matter of indifference to the townspeople in their overriding rage against government and police, however.
Mexicans have taken increasingly to mob rule, and to taking matters of crime alleviation into their own hands, a result of what many explain as having arisen from hopelessness and feelings of impotence. Little wonder, since 98 percent of murders are never solved and a mere 12 percent of crimes are even reported since there is such an utter lack of belief that justice will be served. Mostly because the state is absent in many areas.
There was an estimated 78 lynchings in Mexico last year. Last year five police officers were beaten after killing a villager during one of their operations and two of the police died. Residents of the borough of Iztapalapa have erected banners warning that thieves will not be turned in to police. Vengeance will instead be taken on their mothers.
In Chiapas State in September two men having been accused of stealing a car, were set ablaze. Self-defense groups have erupted everywhere in frustration at the state of affairs, to themselves fight organized crime, since government forces have proven incapable of challenging criminal gangs.
Two young brothers visited Ajalpan in their professional capacity as data-gatherers for their marketing company, Marketing Research and Services that was interested in having an informed idea of the number of children in the town who ate tortillas regularly. The brothers Jose 32, and David, the elder of the two were out polling residents in the town and suspicion was raised that they were really out to kidnap children in the town of 60,000.
Social media had been rife with warnings about child abductions, and that should strangers be seen in town, they be viewed with suspicion. The brothers arrived in the morning, and by evening a group of people from town demanded an explanation why they were asking questions about children. This elicited a patient explanation from the brothers who produced identification to allay fears. When the residents became aggressive, police took the brothers into custody for their safety, informing the group they were innocent.
A girl was produced who had been sexually assaulted. Brought into the precinct, "She said she had never seen them", explained Enrique Bravo, the duty police officer. Regardless, the town church bells began ringing, representing a call to parishioners to assemble, and hundreds of people flooded into the square and began exchanging rumours with hundreds more as they kept arriving.
The assembled crowd stormed the government center where the brothers were being held for their safety. The library was set on fire and the brothers were grabbed from the police. The brothers were beaten senseless by the ravening crowd until a man doused the semiconscious men with gasoline and lit a match. Local news media played and replayed a cellphone video of the atrocity.
The mob felt justified that they had solved yet another problem of child kidnapping.
|A family member waits to receive the bodies of two brothers who were murdered outside the morgue in Tehuacan, Puebla, Mexico, Wednesday, Oct. 21, 2015. Pollsters Rey David Copado Molina, 39, and Jose Abraham Copado Molina, 32, were beaten, killed and burned while conducting a survey in the small town of Ajalpan, authorities said Tuesday. The brothers were mistaken for miscreants and killed by a mob of townspeople frightened by both the gang violence plaguing much of the nation, and recent tales of alleged child abductions. (AP Photo/Marco Ugarte)|