Saxophonist María Elena Ríos and her attacker Juan Antonio Vera Carrizal.EL PAÍS / RR SS
María Elena Ríos’ fears have come true. The Oaxacan saxophonist, as she has been known since a man burned half of her body with acid, is now watching as the suspect who planned the attack is released from prison. Juan Antonio Vera Carrizal, a former local PRI MP and businessman with whom the young woman had a stormy relationship, will serve out her sentence under house arrest, as judge Teódulo Pacheco ruled. “With a fabricated audience and an agreed-upon agreement, my assailant was released today. This is Mexico,” Ríos criticized on his Twitter account. “If they release him and he runs away and kills me #BurnItAll,” the woman added on social media.
Ríos was 26 in September 2019 when a man with shacks broke into his home and sprayed acid on his face and half his body. As she entered the hospital, where she had been lying on a stretcher for five months, the woman called Vera Carrizal on the phone: “It was you, I know,” she told her. Some time later, two men were remanded in custody, as was the then-PRI MP, who was accused of the painful revenge Ríos took when she ended their relationship. “If he could do that to me when I told him I didn’t want to be with him anymore, now that everyone knows what he did, he can attack me and my family if he’s released,” he said in May 2022 when he was suspended, the protection he had. Today the fear has multiplied.
Both Ríos and his defense attorney have accused Judge Pacheco of accepting evidence presented by the convict in order to continue his sentence at home. “They’re trying to make him appear sick,” the victim said in a tweet.
The life paths of Malena, as she is called by acquaintances, and Vera Carrizal crossed in 2017 when a position in the press office of the was advertised then PRI representativein his town in Oaxaca. The saxophone, which she studied at the Puebla Conservatory of Music, was not enough to live on, so the young woman took a different path. He was 43 at the time, and the work relationship turned into a sentimental relationship riddled with tension and jealousy, as revealed in emails and messages the family still keeps: “You’re a whore, a starving woman, you’re going to die without me You don’t do nothing…”, the politician and gas station entrepreneur, who also owns a local radio station, instigated him. On a trip to the USA, he forced her to have sex, the woman later said. The relationship was below the classic one Exhausting patterns of gender based violence: abuse, breakups, crying and forgiveness until the final end and revenge came.
Three months went by to arrest the perpetrators, while the MP apologized by making statements on his own radio. In them, the man’s defense, also following the pattern established in these cases, consisted in re-victimizing the young woman and blaming her for what had happened, sowing suspicions of sexism: “María Elena Ríos has me I worked together and we have a friendship. but that means nothing. If you have a healthy lifestyle, that’s fine, but if you have an unusual lifestyle, you’re going to have problems.”
Vera Carrizal was right about something. In a country like Mexico, where an average of 10 women are murdered every day as a result of sexist violence, the victims do not get the justice they deserve. They are all problems. Those who manage to save their lives fail to see that their processes follow the logical course of justice. Today, half the country is amazed that the ex-politician has gained his house arrest. And the politician’s son, Juan Antonio Vera Hernández, who is also charged with attempted murder of a woman, has not been brought to justice. Oaxaca prosecutors even offered a million pesos (about $50,000) as a reward for him. Although there are voices criticizing the judge’s decision, such as that of Oaxaca Governor Salomón Jara: “While I respect the decisions of the judiciary, I disagree with the judge’s decision in the case of Juan Antonio Vera Carrizal. He should remain in prison until justice is done for María Elena,” he said on his Twitter account. “Violence against women requires commitment from the three branches of government, and we cannot remain indifferent to that determination.”
The President, Andrés Manuel López Obrador, was also interested in the case last spring when he was questioned about the slowness of the judiciary: “We will request reports to see the progress of the investigation and why the attacker He is free” , he said. You could ask the same thing today.
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