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Los ricos también lloran … demasiado tarde

6 April 2010

The huge outpouring of media attention on the disappearance of Paulette Gebara Farah as opposed to rather muted response to the murder of ten youths from an ejido in Durango, bothered some people here, but it’s hard not to be concerned when a four year old handicapped child simply vanishes.  The story fed into every parent’s worst nightmare.  If it could happen to a rich, well-connected family, with two nannies in attendance and living in a building with security cameras in the lobby, it could happen to anyone.

Or so it seemed.  Paulette reportedly disappeared the night of 21 March.  As the days went by, the strange behavior of the family, which — while holding tearful media interviews and garnering international sympathy and simultaneously putting up legal roadblocks to a police investigation — finally led, on the 30th, to the state prosecutor issuing órdenes de arraigo (basically, holding the family as material witnesses during the investigation:  the family moved into a hotel in  Toluca) while the premises were thoroughly searched.  The next day Paulette’s body was found:  she had been strangled and stuffed in the mattress of her own bed.

Paulette’s mother, Lizeth Farah, and what the media describes as a compañera de juerga — partying buddy — are the presumed killers.

Farah is, rightly being villified, while amateur (and professional) psychologists are having a field day and there are discussions throughout the media about issues relating to the way children are raised, and about the protection of special needs children .  The bizarre case has raised other issues — having to do with social class and political power, which may change the projections for the upcoming 2012 Presidential elections.

IN THEORY, Mexicans have a much stronger right to privacy in their home than in the United States or most of the rest of the world.  The Gebara family had every legal right to impede investigators… but try telling armed soldiers to stay out of your house, or tell that to someone who has undergone a  “routine” police search of their house for possible connection to the narcotics trade.

On the one hand, people are asking why the Gebara family was the focus of so much attention (the answer being because they’re rich people) and on other hand, it calls into question the competence of the State of Mexico police that it took them ten days to find the body.

Secondly, the Gebaras were apparently allowed to prevent investigators from speaking with the nannies, and the nannies were also held in preventative detention.  I’m not going to play amateur CSI guy, but the nannies had to know something.   What’s more than troubling is the thought that employers can coerce, bribe or otherwise convince their employees into covering up serious crimes, or acting against their own interests.

And, with the statement by State of Mexico Governor Enrique Peña Nieto that “the truth will come out” and that he appealed to unspecified “international experts” to resolve the crime raises even more questions.  Calling in “international experts” is seen as either an admission that his own police are incompetent, or that the rich are different than you and I, and somehow deserving of a governor’s special attention.

Secondly, and this may be more serious, it opens up speculation again over the somewhat unexplained death of Peña Nieto’s wife back in January 2007.   Officially (and I have no reason to question it), she had an epileptic seizure and choked to death.  However, at the time, it was also reported that Monica Pretlini’s death was a suicide caused by an overdose of anti-depressants.  The family life of Mexican politicians seldom is newsworthy, but there were reports at the time that the couple had separated for unspecified reasons, and rumors  that Peña Neito murdered his wife are openly resurfacing. One commentator in El Universal on the Governor’s taking a personal interest in Paulette’s murder asked if he was also going to look into “el caso en su casa.”

While I fully expect we’ll be seeing a couple of trashy quick “true crime” books about Paulette’s murder, and we’ll be reading every detail with salacious interest for the next several months, the nuances of this tragedy may be with us for years.

2 Comments leave one →
  1. don quixote permalink
    6 April 2010 8:08 am

    This story just confirms what I have always felt about the Mexican High Brahman Class. They have to be the creepiest, most arrogant, psychologically and even physically repulsive group I have ever had the misfortune to be around.
    They haven’t changed much since Diego Rivera painted them realistically almost a hundred years ago.
    The rich Spanish Hapsburg related families come close, but there is something about the Mexican wealthy class that makes them really special

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