The Story of Vicente, Who Murdered His Mother, His Father, and His Sister: Life and Death in Juárez
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The intimate story of a teenager’s murder of his family, from award-winning Mexican journalist
In Ciudad Juárez, just across the Rio Grande from El Paso, Texas, sixteen-year-old Vicente and two of his high school friends murdered his mother, his father, and his little sister in cold blood. Through a Truman Capote–like reconstruction of this seemingly incomprehensible triple murder, Sandra Rodríguez Nieto paints a haunting and unforgettable portrait of one of the most violent cities on Earth. This in-depth and harrowing investigation into the thought processes of three boys leads the reader on an exploration of the city of Juárez, as well as the drug cartels that have waged war on its streets, in a bold attempt to explain the inexplicable.
Ideally qualified for telling this story, Sandra Rodríguez Nieto was an investigative reporter for the daily newspaper El Diario de Juárez for nearly a decade. Despite tremendous danger and the assassination of one of her closest colleagues, she persisted. She didn’t want the story of her city told solely by foreign reporters, because, in her words, “I know what is underneath the violence.” This book traces the rise of a national culture of murder and bloody retribution, and is a testament to the extraordinary bravery of its author. Among other things, The Story of Vicente is an account of how poverty, political corruption, failing government institutions and US meddling combined to create an explosion of violence in Juárez.
Chihuahua State begins by explaining that the purpose of each and every investigation is to “establish the truth, guarantee justice in the application of our laws and resolve conflicts and crimes, in order to contribute to the restoration of social harmony.” The rule of law also claims that the state’s greatest responsibility is to protect the individual, even more than protecting the state itself. The Vicente León case showed us that thorough investigation is the only way for us to get close to
to wound forty Mexicles and murder six. They killed one Mexicle with fourteen stab-wounds in the chest; another had forty-nine wounds in his neck and chest; another, whose skull was crushed, suffered sixty stab wounds to his body. Many of the Mexicles who were able to save themselves did so by locking themselves in their cells, stacking their concrete-slab beds against the doors. On the other side of the prison, the Aztecas, still searching for victims, smashed glass and broke down doors, trying
from 11 PM to 3 AM, taking advantage of a temporary retreat of the army. “That was the day we were changing guards, when the soldiers who’d been stationed there went to Chihuahua City and then Mexico City to make room for a new deployment that was going to come in the very next day. That was the night …” General Felipe de Jesús Espitia, chief of the Joint Chihuahua Operation, explained to me. With 136 murders, May was one of the most violent months in the history of any Mexican city. The coming
get revenge. Less than a month later, at about six in the evening on February 4, the forty-seven-year-old Ismael Carrasco stabbed his ex-mistress to death inside a grocery mart in the southern Juárez neighborhood of Héroes de la Revolución. While they were in the store, Carrasco, his ex, Margarita, and her daughter and son, Verónica and Javier, started arguing. Verónica pushed Carrasco, and her mother tried to intervene in the following tussle, when Carrasco pulled a knife and stabbed her in the
motives or the details of the crimes, forcing many to come up with their own insufficient explanations, which, over the years, gave way to a sort of collective blindness. We were unable to truly see the victims. Unable to see our own indignation and fear, and without an official explanation to guide us, we developed our own theories to explain away the violence. The abducted men, for example, were immediately deemed narco criminals and dumped into the mass grave of suspicion, the blanket lie of