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Thou shalt not make (phony) graven images — another nota roja

24 May 2008

Alfredo (citius64) found this recently in Reforma. It was worth translating in its fully glory, not just for the interesting crime itself, nor for my admiration at the way correspondent Ana Laura Vasquez was able to stretch out the word count by including the police report number (TWICE!) but because I’ve never read a nota rota with such a distinguished list of “victims”.

Tlaxcala, México (21 May 2008 ) — A priest, Rolando Corona Eliosa has been apprehended by the Tlaxcala Federal Prosecutor’s Office on suspicion of robbing sacred art.

The approximately 36 year old cleric was arrested in Municipio San Pablo del Monte, in the southern part of the state, and locked up in the Center for Social Readaption of the Tlaxcalan capital according to informatin provided by the Federal Prosecutor’s Office


According to investigations arising from criminal investigation, AP/RGR/TLAX/35/2004, the suspect, a parish priest in the community of San Andrés Buenavista, took six retablos stored in the chapel of the ex-hacienda El Rosario and from another church in the Municipio of Tlaxco, allegedly for restoration.


However, he did not have the permission of his superiors, nor of the the National Institute of Anthropology and History (INAH) to do so.

In March 2004, he took retablos representing Saint Francis of Assisi, Saint Rosalia, Saint Vincent Ferrer, God the Father and the Sorrowful Mother of Jesus as well as an unidentified piece.


On the fifth of September in that same year, when the directors of the ex-hacienda solicited the return of their pieces, Corona Eliosa sent painted replicas.


In March 2005, INAH personnel became suspicious, and conducted tests on the retablos, discovering the counterfeit works.

For having falsified the images, ecclesiastical authorities have suspended Corona Eliosa from his priestly functions.

When questioned, the detainee returned the retablos of Saint Francis of Assisi, Saint Rosalia, Saint Vincent Ferrer, God the Father and the Sorrowful Mother of Jesus, but the whereabouts of the unidentified piece are unknown.

As a result of these events, the social representative of the Federation opened criminal investigation file AP/PRG/TLAX/35/3004, including relevent complaints, and – not being able to locate the missing oil painting – determined there was a probable criminal violation of the Federal Law Regarding Monuments, Archeological Zones, Artistic and Historical Works.

“Federal agents complied with an apprehension order requested by the Federal Minister’s Office for crimes against the people of San Pablo del Monte, taking the prisoner to the Center for Social Readaption in the state Capital while the legal process continues,” the Federal Prosecutor’s Office press release stated.

However, the priest could be released on conditional liberty since robbing sacred art is not considered a serious crime in Tlaxcala.

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