El Chapo pleads with López Obrador: “I haven’t seen the light of the sun”

El Chapo pleads with López Obrador: “I haven’t seen the light of the sun”

Joaquín 'el Chapo' Guzmán during his transfer to the United States for detention on January 19, 2017.Joaquín ‘el Chapo’ Guzmán, during his transfer to the United States for detention, January 19, 2017.PGR

Joaquín El Chapo Guzmán, one of the most famous drug dealers in history, continues to get people talking. Jailed for life in a maximum security prison in Colorado, USA, El Chapo is protesting the cruel treatment he is being subjected to by the authorities. In a letter his lawyer José Refugio Rodríguez sent to the Mexican ambassador to the US, Esteban Moctezuma, a week ago, the drug trafficker also denounced alleged illegalities in the extradition proceedings, which ended with his bones north of the Rio Grande, more than five years ago Years. Above all, however, it is a letter of protest, a cry of lament for the living conditions. “I haven’t seen the light of the sun,” says El Chapo, as the lawyer explains on journalist Ciro Gómez Leyva’s radio show.

El Chapo’s letters are poised to become a curious twist on the epistolary genre. In September 2021, the drug dealer filed an affidavit in a US court, complaining of the same thing: cruel treatment, solitary confinement, little attention to his medical issues… Released months later, the letter said, “I have suffered a lot. As a result of treatment in ADMAX (that’s the name of the prison where he is serving his sentence) I now suffer from headaches, memory loss, muscle spasms, stress and depression.”

In the first or third person, as is the case this time, the former leader of the Sinaloa cartel holds the Mexican government accountable. Not this one, led by Andrés Manuel López Obrador, but the previous one, chaired by Enrique Peña Nieto (2012-2018) of the PRI. Arrested in 2016 after two spectacular escapes from prison, most recently with Peña Nieto on executive orders, the El Chapo government quickly flew to the United States and flouted the extradition law, according to attorney Rodríguez. “What he specifically asks López Obrador to pay attention to the violation of rights inflicted on the government of Peña Nieto, and in particular [Luis] Videgaray, then Secretary of State for Foreign Relations, by handing him over to stand trial in New York without having defended himself in Mexico, in flagrant violation of his guarantee of a hearing,” the lawyer said on the radio.

The moment when Guzmán’s defender speaks is interesting. This Tuesday in New York, at least in Mexico, one of the most awaited trials of recent times is beginning. The United States judiciary sits on the bench of the great police chief of years of national action in the country’s government, Genaro García Luna. Head of investigators at the old prosecutor’s office in the years of Vicente Fox (2000-2006), head of security strategy during the tenure of Felipe Calderón (2006-2012), García Luna is accused of drug trafficking and organized crime. Prosecutors believe the former police officer worked with the Sinaloa cartel over the years.

The tendency to mail letters isn’t just El Chapo’s thing. In May 2019, his mother, María Consuelo Loera, sent a letter to President López Obrador, urging him to intervene with the authorities in the neighboring country and ensure that the drug trafficker could receive visits from relatives. At the time, the president, who has maintained a remarkable relationship with El Chapo’s mother over the years, agreed when he greeted her on a visit to Sinaloa: “I have given instructions so that all the facilities are in place and the sisters visit them can him and help them according to the laws and regulations that they have in this country,” he said.

It is unknown how the president’s efforts ended, but the fact is that Guzmán has restarted the writing strategy. “Since Guzmán arrived in the United States, he has been detained and treated cruelly,” the letter, signed by his lawyer, reads. “He was isolated, without contact with other people, isolated in a cell without the guards being able to communicate with him in Spanish. A violation of human dignity, a violation of human rights and fundamental freedoms,” he continues. “In the six years that Guzmán was in prison, they never took him out of his cell to get sunlight, not even for a minute. From March 2022 to date, they’ve approved six or seven calls with his attorney,” he said.

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