Cherchez la Presidenta Municipal…
Elections have consequences.
Sara Luz Herrera Cano was the PRI municipal president of Alvardo, Veracruz up until midnight 31/December/2013. With the state prosecutor’s offices closed New Year’s Day, it was the morning of the Second when she received the “honor” of receiving the first criminal indictment in the State of Veracruz for 2014… case# 1/2014.
The arrest in itself is no surprise. Elected officials are immune from prosecution, unless the immunity is lifted by the legislature. Although state prosecutors had requested the Veracruz legislature to lift Herrera’s immunity last October, she managed to hold on to her office. And, as it was, incoming PRD municipal president Octavio Ruiz Barroso, campaigned on a promise to audit municipal accounts upon assuming office, and pursuing criminal charges where it could.
State Attorney General Amadeo Flores Espinosa wrote an arrest warrant for Ms. Herrera on New Year’s Eve… but not for anything as mundane as spending municipal funds on the usual things politicians expect the taxpayers to provide… trips to Las Vegas, a few face-lifts, real estate … but for murder.
Herrera’s private secretary, Michel Martinez Corro, had gone missing at the end of July. His body was found in a shallow grave a week later, beaten to death with a blunt object. Martinez was more than just Herrera’s secretary, her casa was his casa, but… just to complicate things, Martinez was openly gay. Just to make things weirder, it was initially reported that a second body, that of “Nicolas N.” was found in the grave with Martinez — suggesting the crime had to do with gay bashing, and not with dirty politics or Martinez’ role in the Herrera (mal)administration. However, if there ever was a “Nicolas N.” the body… and mention of the body… has disappeared.
What did show up was a confession, by another municipal employee that she had been asked by the Municipal President to hire a couple of hitmen to get rid of Martinez. On the basis of that testimony, the state prosecutor had asked the state legislature for a “disafuero” (removal of immunity). Herrera brazened it out… not only claiming the prosecution was politically motivated and sexist… that she was targeted because she represented the PRI and was a woman.
Whether or not the committee quite believed her when she did Richard Nixon’s “I am not a crook” one better, telling the committee, and the media, “I am not a killer” is beside the point. The PRI legislators were reluctant to vote for a disafuero, and admit to corruption within their own party in a year when their party had just regained the Presidency, and as in a somewhat triumphalist mood. Plus, they wanted to recess for the year, and just… didn’t … get … around … to… it.
So… as Presidenta Municipal of Alvarado, Sara Luz was untouchable. Until the end of her term. Which looks very much like the start of her sentence.
Now, if we only knew why she had Martinez killed.
“De alcaldesa a presunta asesina, Sara Luz acusada de homicidio”, La Politica (24 October 2013)
“Veracruz mayor suspected in murder of her secretary, embezzlement in office” Justice in Mexico (20 November 2013)
“Former Veracruz mayor arrested for murder of her secretary” Justice in Mexico (7 January 2014)
Pepe Lozada, “‘No soy una asesina’: Sarita, alcaldesa de Alvarado,” eConsulta.com Veracruz (27 November 2013)
Édgar Ávila Pérez and Rodrigo Barranco, “Sara Luz Herrera Cano, ex edil en Alvarado, es señalada como autora intelectual del homicidio de quien fuera su secretario particular, Michel Martínez Corro”, El Universal (2 January 2014).