By Besha Rodell
By Patrick Range McDonald
By Michael Goldstein
By Dennis Romero
By Sarah Fenske
By Matthew Mullins
By Patrick Range McDonald
By LA Weekly
Ochoa‘s family and friends are up in arms at the suggestion that her murder was anything less than a political crime -- ”a crime of state,“ as Edgar Cortez of the Pro Center calls it. The Ochoa killing would appear to be the first political murder of Vicente Fox’s presidency and an acute embarrassment to his pledge to improve human rights here.
”We were her colleagues and companions. We knew her better than anyone except her family,“ Cortez argued. ”Digna Ochoa did not commit suicide.“
Ochoa‘s brother echoed that belief. ”My sister confronted many adverse situations,“ said Pedro Ochoa. ”She also showed great courage. She was not a suicidal type.“
”Digna loved life,“ wrote Harald Ihmig, a German human-rights worker who accompanied the lawyer on a fact-finding tour through the Guerrero mountains just two weeks before her death. Ihmig suspects that the killing was carried out by members of the Mexican military whom the martyred attorney had charged with torture.
Barbara Zamora, a human-rights lawyer who has been retained by the Ochoa family, is equally skeptical of Batiz’s suicide theory. Zamora too has received at least one untraceable e-mail threat, but she refuses to be intimidated. ”I want to make it very clear that I am not about to commit suicide,“ she recently told reporters.
Although Veracruz Senator Sadot Sanchez, a member of the once-ruling Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI), has demanded that Batiz turn the case over to Attorney General Macedo, Ochoa‘s family says it has more faith in an investigation headed by Batiz than by Digna’s old political enemy.
Still, Batiz, who has invited the Inter-American Human Rights Commission of the Organization of American States to review his investigation, seems inclined to the suicide theory as other leads fail to pan out. Military personnel, for example, interrogated by his investigators presented ”air-tight“ alibis.
The Ochoa family believes that the Mexico City prosecutor is seeking to convince non-Mexican human-rights groups with whom he has contact that Ochoa killed herself. If Batiz opts for the suicide scenario, the family has vowed to carry on the investigation.
On April 19, the six-month anniversary of Ochoa‘s death, Batiz announced that his investigation would be concluded in a matter of weeks. The Ochoa case represents a high-stakes gamble for Batiz -- proving her suicide would so disaffect his political allies that it would mean his own political suicide.
John Ross has returned to Mexico City without a publisher for two works in progress, Murdered by Capitalism, a memoir of 150 years of life and death on the U.S. left, and Mexico Barbaro -- Dispatches From the Underbelly of the Mexican Reality 1985--2000.
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