Mexico has lost its freedom in the pursuit of justice. The justice of Mexico is hidden within the palm of a politician’s trickster, who will surely die before his formidable claw releases that already withered, wretched and deformed justice.
The political reputation of a people is based on their justice, the independence of their courts and the incorruptibility of their judges. The first question that a foreigner asks about a nation is that if the investments are guaranteed, if personal freedom is assured.
In Mexico there are two kinds of justice, one for foreigners, another for Mexicans. The experience taught Porfirio Diaz that most of the wars and foreign interventions are due, in Mexico, to the legal damages and arbitrary differences that foreigners have been victims of. That is why one of his political commands has been to treat foreigners with as much caution and fairness as circumstances permit. The foreigner brings money or energy to the country; it works and helps to improve the economic conditions of the nation, without intervening in political affairs, and without more ambition than that of enriching oneself. If they oppress or treat you badly, it can cause international complications and discredit the country by asking for the protection of your consul or your minister. On the other hand, in the Diaz regime, politics and, therefore, interferes with the power and ambition of the despot.
Justice by nature is essentially democratic, its verdicts are not inspired by considerations of caste, ancestry, influence or fortune. From this it follows logically that justice, taken in its pure sense, can not be accommodated in a nation governed by a satrap, since all unipersonal government is conglobed in the aristocratic type.
Artificial and shrewd has been the policy of Porfirio Diaz in offering justice, sincerity and special privileges to foreigners; to his henchmen, immunity for his licentious acts, favor and protection; and to independent nationals, arbitrariness, injustice and chicanery.
Porfirio Díaz is the representation of the two-faced Janus: in front of him he presents the face of Minerva, serious, calm, fair, deep and noble. This is the face for the outsiders; but seen from behind, presents the face reserved for Mexicans: the mask of Medusa, terrible, tormented by fear and cruelty, something that causes fear by its petrified lines of violence.
Porfirio Díaz has a Spanish partner, called Íñigo Noriega, who is very rich and a man of great astuteness and enormous influence. Nothing more curious than to see daily the magistrates of the Supreme Court and federal judges in the antechambers of that Spanish to discuss with him the resolutions that should be issued in judicial matters.
Judges are corrupted in the most shameless and cynical way; those who are not corrupt and seek to fulfill their duties, always obey the orders of all the satellites of the minister and the undersecretary of Justice and Porfirio Diaz, whose simple wish is an order. Take any name from the list of judges, and you will have an idea of the type of man who administers justice in Mexico.
Demetrio Sodi Natural of Oaxaca. In eight years of holding the judiciary has made a fortune of more than one million pesos. Today he is president of the Supreme Court of the Nation, and he has been a magistrate, president of the debates and agent of the government.
He is the perfect type of courtier, lackey of the President. As the government favored the suppression of the popular jury, in an interview he presented the following argument against the system: “Whatever the intentions of the jurors, I can always make them fail according to my purposes.” Among his aphorisms is that there is no more justice than the real wins of those who rule .
Telesforo Ocampo.Young still. Less than a year ago he was judging a murder case, when one night, at a meal with several friends, he bet with the defense lawyer that he would obtain a death sentence against the accused. The defender accepted the bet, and, in proof of good faith, demanded a written record of the bet, whose penalty was to pay for a meal for which he lost. A newspaper made of the document and published it with the data of the bet, creating great scandal and indignation. Everyone expected Ocampo to be removed from the forum. But the unexpected happened: the defense lawyer went to jail for faults to the judge; Ocampo sentenced the defendant to death, and won his bet – and continues to administer “justice”, without anyone bothering him and without having even received a warning from the Minister of Justice or Porfirio Diaz.
One of his axioms is that “every accused is a criminal and, therefore, must be condemned.”
Eugenio Ezquerro. 3rd Correctional Judge. He has been accused by eleven charges and have been committed in his court true horrors, despite all which remains in his post for being a protege of Don Lorenzo Elízaga. In 1904 they put all their secretaries in jail for having stolen the fines imposed. The acquittal was complete. Everyone who has money can arrange their case with the judge. Ezquerro laughs cynically of the Mexican justice and calls it ” a chickweed that feeds many people “.
Trinidad Meza Salinas is another exemplary representative of the judge. He is a former lawyer who was sentenced to six years in prison for the crime of bigamy. After having served the sentence in the prison of Bethlehem, he became a defender and protector of the poor. He committed a thousand scams, tricks and petty pranks to the point that the same Vigilance Committee, so self-absorbed, had to make decisions against him. He was accused of several crimes, but was suddenly dismissed in his case and appointed secretary of a court, judge and government agent in the Department of War.
Justino Fernández. This is the Minister of Justice, a decrepit man, with one foot in the grave and the other who has nothing to do outside of it. Minister Porfirio Díaz, of whom he is a relative, did it and is confident that he will not meddle in the affairs of the justice department. That of Minister of Justice is nothing more than a way of speaking, and has in common with the allegorical representation of Justice being almost blind and as deaf as a wall. When it is requested of him to solve a judicial question, he disdains to do it, considering it as something foreign to his department. In spite of this, it often establishes axioms that are evidently collected in the fields of Friedrich Nietzsche, Porfirio Díaz, and, sometimes, those of Sancho Panza.
Belén.-The Mexican Bastille.
If the judges are corrupt, it is easy to infer what will be the prison or place of expiation of the crimes. No one can imagine what is Bethlehem, that Mexican Bastille, limbo and purgatory at the same time. It is not described in travelers’ books, because travelers are not received as visitors in that place of torment.
“The Inferno” of Dante had circles with a depth in relation to the iniquities committed by the sinner; but if compared with Bethlehem the “Hole Black “(The Black Hole) of Calcutta, it turns out to be a recreation hall, just as the Siberian prisons would appear as philanthropic institutions, and the” Piombi “or dungeons of the palaces of the Doges, comfortable residences.
Belen is the superlative expression of Mexican injustice and an example of the equity of Porfirio Diaz, the Just, the Right, the Impartial. Bethlehem is not a prison, nor a galley, nor a prison; it is Gehenna, the abyss of Acheron; an unmentionable disease in the body of Mexican justice; an immense cloaca that contains worms, filth, carrion, diseases, pollution and depravity; full of presidio birds, squeezed like canned sardines, treated like cattle. It is an abomination on the face of the earth, a human caespol, a dirty and stinking display of the benevolent interest that the old despot takes for everything that is hidden from the eyes of foreigners.
The government of Diaz has spent millions of pesos in a park and a road for cars in Chapultepec, in a model post office, in a classic building for telegraphs, and in a monumental palace for Congress; spend from 8 to 10 million pesos in a marble theater, for the opera, which will be a marvel. But, on the other hand, the plans for a model prison suggested by Guillermo de Landa and Escandón, have been rotting for six years in government archives.
Bethlehem, which is about the size of a half block of New York, contains five to six thousand men, about 300 boys and 600 women. There is a 180-square-meter galley in which 1800 men are supposed to sleep, who have to fight fiercely to get a piece of ground to rest on, and the weakest are forced to stand, or be seated, or lie down on each other.
Bedbugs, lice, fleas and all kinds of insects swarm with myriads, and if you give yourself a slap on which want part of the wall, crush hundreds of those bugs.
The food is inedible, and sometimes it is exposed to the sun or to the rain for hours before being distributed.
Allow men to take a shower bath, but they are not given soap or a rag to rinse, and each one dries as best they can.
The result of such an order of things is the great number of epidemics and the frequency of tuberculosis among those unfortunates. “El Diario”, in its issue of October 7, 1908, published the list of prisoners who in one day contracted typhoid in the prison of Bethlehem: ONE HUNDRED SEVENTY-SIX CASES . -The next day it was not possible to get the list of new cases: the authority suppressed the truth.
The guardians of the prison have absolute power. Most of them are prisoners too; they extort, steal and commit all kinds of villainy, brutalize and sometimes kill the refractory prisoners with sticks.
Sodomy is rampant and is fostered by the guardians; men and children have to lend themselves, by will or force, to that abominable practice, and for this they go for alcohol and marijuana.
There is a Vigilance Commission, composed of twelve individuals, who are supposed to be in charge of taking care that no abuses are committed, the law is not violated, or internal regulations are not followed. They visit the prison every three or six months; but sometimes they electrify their activities, like the Council of the Ten of Venice, if they receive anonymous from some prisoner.
Despite its appearance of sanitation and cleanliness, this is a place of refined and subtle inquisition. The prisoners are mistreated, poorly fed, poorly cared for. In 12 years 1275 convicts entered, of whom 162 died. They oblige the sentenced persons to work there, paying them one-sixth of the wage of the worst paid worker. The guardians, as in Bethlehem, are all powerful, brutal and unjust. The director of the prison increases months of penalty surcharge to the sentence of a prisoner by the single report of a guardian, without going into further inquiries. The unhappy convicts walk almost naked, if they do not have their own clothes or there is no charitable person to provide them. The doctors visit the prison every eight days, or every ten days.
The Correctional School.
So called by mistake, because, in reality, it is a school for the development of vices and crimes, in which minors comply with their sentences. From there come the boys graduated from thieves, thieves, pedophiles, ruffians, thugs and something worse. They are treated there like animals and are obliged to work without any remuneration, for the benefit of the friends of the administration.
There is a term that is often heard in Mexico when someone is sent to jail on the basis of any accusation: “Incommunicado”, which means that the detainee can not deal with his or her defense counsel, his family or anyone other than the judge. , neither in word nor in writing. This is a powerful weapon in the hands of the judge and the prison authorities, and when it comes to journalists or poor foreigners, to prevent them from communicating with the representatives of their nation.
A certain Manuel Bátiz remained incommunicado, in Bethlehem, for four months; Juan Garduño, for seven months; Luis Torres TWO YEARS .
Two years ago, the newspapers published the story of the discovery of an individual who had been in Bethlehem for twenty years, hoping, he said, that some accusation was brought against him. The Czar Porfirio Díaz, in his infinite goodness, forgave that unfortunate.
I will present some examples of neglect, incompetence and disregard for the most elementary principles of justice.
Francisco Reyes. He was sentenced to death for killing his girlfriend. After having been eleven years in Bethlehem, the trial ended, and as he was sentenced to death he was commuted to twenty years in prison. But they did not discount the eleven years he had been imprisoned, so the penalty was 31 years. When his defender spoke with the Minister of Justice to amend the error, he replied in a solomonic way: “For those who are within the law, everything; for those who have been outlawed, not even air to breathe. ”
Francisco Ramírez. Guest of the Penitentiary, 16 years old. Although innocent, he was sentenced to ten years in prison, for homicide, without hardly being allowed to defend himself. He protested and asked to be tried, since he was in a position to prove his innocence and to reveal the name of the true culprit. He was told to shut up, or that it would be worse.
A. Guerrero. Sentenced to eight years in prison for murder. When his brother was apprehended three years later, accused of complicity, the case was reviewed and Guerrero was sentenced to death. His lawyer went to see the Minister of Justice to talk about the appeal of the sentence, because it was illegal; the Minister replied: “Generosity is the attribute of the weak; strong men always use severity. ”
Samuel Karsenty. French, 45 years old. He turned for $ 50,000 in charge of a Paris bank, and his money was not paid. He was apprehended and in the criminal case he was acquitted, because the action was purely civil. Then the judge, a plume, sentenced him to nine years in prison. They took him to the Penitentiary, incommunicado, so that he could not defend himself or communicate with his Minister.
T. Godinez. Although innocent, he was sentenced to twelve years in prison. Later it was discovered when seeing author of the crime and then released, with the warning of: – “Be very careful to make talk about this matter, otherwise you will go back to prison and then you will not leave it again.”
The Mexican Police Department.
Considering the material and the corrupt environment that surrounds the chief of police, nephew of Porfirio Diaz, this is the best thing that there is in that department, the best person that has ever been in him. He is a quiet man, without ostentation, and tries to do things as well as possible according to his way of seeing. At the same time he makes his little game in the political game, because Felix Diaz is extremely ambitious.
On the other hand, the secret police department is made up of rabble, from the feces of criminal Mexico. Among its members there are murderers and professional thieves. The “detective” Reyes purged a murder with twenty years of prison in Bethlehem, and is a perpetrator by profession; Olmos comes from the Penitentiary and has 21 tickets in the Belén prison for crimes against property; Camargo has entered Bethlehem 37 times and all of them for theft; Muñoz, 22 times for thief.
The judges know so well the unconditional protection granted to them by Porfirio Diaz, who believe and make the unfortunates believe that they ask for justice, that they are infallible.
Here is a case to illustrate my assertion. One night several speculators of theater tickets had a question with some secret policemen, who led them to the police station. The next day they appeared before Judge Tello Rodríguez, who asked them where they had taken the last drink before the pendency. The defendants answered that in the Gambrinus Restaurant, and the judge, without going to find out if the canteen was closed at that time, imposed a fine of $ 200 on the owner, an Italian named Bellato, who brought his witnesses and even the policeman of the point. , to prove that at the time of reference the canteen was closed and only the restaurant was open, with which the law was not infringed. The District Governor’s secretary was not at all impressed by the evidence, and as the Federal District oracle said: “Although I know you’re right, that does not matter, because the judge’s decisions are infallible.”
We all know that in Rome there is a Pope who is infallible in religious matters, but to Mexico was reserved the declaration of the infallibility of the judges.
Let’s see now to what extent the Supreme Court justices resist the tension when it comes to foreigners who are not afraid and enjoy influence.
Some years ago a Canadian company entitled “The Mexican Light and Power Co.” needed a piece of land for the installation of electric poles. The Mexican gentleman to whom the land belonged, thought he had found a good opportunity to squeeze the powerful company. The lot was almost a parallelogram and the company needed only a corner, a triangle, which would have a tenth of the property. The owner offered the whole property at the rate of so much per square meter; but the president of the company refused to buy all the land and offered to pay the corner he needed at the indicated price. The proprietor decided with all astuteness to sell the repeated corner, but at a price equivalent to that of the whole estate, which the other party refused to admit. The case was brought before the Supreme Court,
The lawyer of the company participated in the solution to the president of the company, adding that if he did not pay the stipulated price, the Court would condemn it to pay. The president of the company replied that he did not care what the Court did, because the ruling constituted a flagrant violation of the law, and that if it came to condemn, the press in Europe and America would publish the news as a sample. of Mexican justice. Astonished the lawyer, he went in haste to see Minister Limantour, who took charge of all the international importance of the case, and it was, without loss of time, to consult him with Porfirio Diaz.
The President had a hasty conference with the magistrates of the Court, and the final result was that the resolution be annulled, decreeing another according to the equitable primitive bases.
Moral : If you are at the head of a rich corporation, in Mexico, even the Supreme Court itself will revoke its sentences; but if you are only an insignificant innkeeper, the sentence that condemns you will be called “infallible”.