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The negligent investigation of a police officer for abusing a 10-year-old girl in Puerto Vallarta leads the case to impunity

A group of women demonstrating in Puerto Vallarta against child abuse.

A chain of judicial errors in Puerto Vallarta (Jalisco) recalls again these days the impunity that reigns in Mexico. A judge who does not charge a police officer accused of abusing a 10-year-old girl for corruption of minors because the victim “did not feel pleasure.” A prosecutor’s office that does not know the criminal rules of its State. Puerto Vallarta, a tropical paradise with crystal clear waters that every foreigner wants to know, also keeps the most sordid chapters: it is one of the main sources of child sexual abuse and human trafficking in the country, according to several organizations. Sex crimes against minors in this municipality of just over 200,000 inhabitants have increased in the first half of this year by 15% compared to the same period in 2019. The ineffectiveness of the authorities in the case of this girl, abused last month by the General Director of Human Resources of the Puerto Vallarta Police, Luis Alonso, has been the last straw that has filled the camel’s back of a situation that different organizations have been denouncing for years and for which hundreds of people have mobilized in recent days to do not go unpunished. The judge, who worked in a specialized care center for female victims, has been suspended from his post and his accounts have been confiscated.

For Sandra Quiñones, the victim’s lawyer who lives in this municipality, Vallarta has two faces. On the one hand there is the friendly, the luxurious, the mountains, the beaches, the rivers, the safe, where the police do not take their eyes off the drunken American’s sandals and towels. On the other hand, there is the cook, the hotel employee, or the waitress, who receive the tourist with a smile but have to deal with a prosecutor’s office that does not initiate investigations into the disappearance of their daughter, with a patrol that does not arrive when you They are attacking or with endless paperwork when you have to file a complaint. “It is paradoxical that all efforts are made to promote tourism internationally but the day-to-day problems of the people who are still here are made invisible. Some problems put under the table so that the world does not realize what is happening ”, laments Quiñones.

In Jalisco, crime is practically free. The levels of impunity are the highest in the entire country, reaching a figure of 99.3%, according to an investigation by México Evalúa from 2017. According to the Puerto Vallarta Women’s Collective, the municipality has been one of the places for years where more complaints are made of child sexual abuse in Jalisco. In the first half of this year, 67 folders have been opened for this cause, one every three days, according to data from the prosecution. Expert organizations in the matter assure that in this municipality for every complaint of abuse of minors there are nine that are not made. Alejandra Maritza, one of the coordinators of Cladem, an organization focused on women’s rights in Latin America and the Caribbean, explains the problem. “In Puerto Vallarta, trafficking and sexual abuse are a problem. That is why what is happening is very serious. This is finally made public because he is an official, who directly worked in the police, but imagine how many cases there are behind, ”he says.

On July 26, Luis Alonso stalked his victim, just like a couple of days before, in a neighborhood in Puerto Vallarta, according to the testimonies of the victim. The official kidnapped a girl barely 10 years old and put her in his car. He offered her money, took off her clothes and abused her. Minutes later, a police patrol arrived at the scene and after seeing Alonso in a suspicious attitude, covering the back of the car, they discovered the minor. Her father picked her up.

The errors begin with the ministerial agents who arrived at the scene. Not a single testimony from neighbors, nor from the victim’s father. They do not retain the cell phone of the alleged pedophile in search of evidence, nor do they demand that her clothes be checked once in the prison for fluids, says Quiñones, the minor’s lawyer. “There was not only a bad integration of the investigation but a bad accusation. The aggressor was part of the State and it seems that with this series of actions the State is seeking to protect the aggressors, not to defend the girls ”, Quiñones argues.

Another of the errors of the public ministry was when they tried to link Luis Alonso to the process. The Supreme Court of Justice established in 2016 that it is illegal to charge a person with two crimes already established in the Penal Code. This happens with the corruption of minors and child sexual abuse, both typified in article 142 of the Penal Code of the State of Jalisco. The mistake, in the lawyer’s words, was huge. “It seems that the public prosecutor, far from being up-to-date on the penal code, did exactly what the Court had already said was illegal, double indictment. Therefore, when the judge sees that the accusation was of these two articles, he had to remove the aggravating circumstance of corruption of minors, ”explains Quiñones. The lawyer of Justice Pro Person, Katherine Mendoza, explains that from the beginning they had to tie Luis Alonso to trial for all the crimes at once. “In criminal law it is called a crime contest, something that implies that with the same procedure you commit several behaviors that can be classified as different criminal offenses,” he says.

The outrage with this case did not reach the streets of Vallarta and social networks just because of this accumulation of errors. The judge in charge of the event, Jorge Luis Solís, belonged to the Center for Justice for Women, a body where its members are supposedly specialized in violence against women and in passing sentences with a gender perspective. The magistrate argued at the hearing that he could not incorporate the aggravating circumstance of corruption of minors to the accused, in addition to the ministerial error, because the young woman “did not feel pleasure during the abuses,” so Luis Alonso “did not corrupt her.” Guadalupe Ramos, also Cladem coordinator, expresses her outrage over the phone. “The argument is terrible, macho, misogynistic. This is very serious because it transfers the configuration elements of the crime to the victim. What do you mean, if the minor had felt pleasure during the abuse then he would have protected her?

After great media pressure and different demonstrations by the coastal municipality, Judge Solís was removed from his post this Sunday and the Jalisco authorities began an investigation against him. They have also frozen the bank accounts of both him and the defendant.

Ramos admits that the words of the judge in charge of the case were very unfortunate, but emphasizes that the main problem lies in the mistakes during the investigation. “All these omissions make us think that from the prosecution itself there is an intention that the crime was not well configured and therefore there was a weak investigation folder to accuse this man,” he says. The activist regrets that senior officials and even Governor Enrique Alfaro have publicly manifested themselves from the State, but that none of them have pointed out the prosecution, only the judge in question.

The State Human Rights Commission of Jalisco (CEDHJ) has condemned the abuses, emphasizing that it is especially serious that they come from public servants. In the words of Eduardo Sosa, coordinator of the organization, “it is reprehensible that those who are in charge of protecting the rights of others are singled out for such serious acts.” The consequences of this type of violence, Sosa continues, have a devastating effect on the victim and his family, causing irreparable damage. “It is the most severe violence that exists,” ditch.

According to the lawyer Quiñones between sighs, the prosecution now has three months to impute the former Vallarta official. A work against the clock but to which they will try to add several charges, such as kidnapping and again the corruption of minors. Despite the media scandal and the disposition of the prosecution, Quiñones knows that any mistake can lead to the freedom of Luis Alonso. The reform of the criminal law of 2008 establishes that the crimes that are not serious and that the arithmetic mean is not greater than five years, can obtain the provisional suspension of the process. With this suspension, the defendant can present a program to repair damage to the victim and leave prison with different conditions such as community work, pay for the damages caused to the young woman, not leave the State and not approach the minor, among others. “We are pressing and will continue to pressure the prosecution to carry out a professional investigation and to be able to impute all the charges so that he is not released,” concludes Quiñones.