Until 2:00 pm yesterday, I was glued to the live transmission of the Mexican Supreme
One of Florence’s paintings
Court last examination of Florence Cassez’ case; Trying to make sense with my flimsy Spanish of what was going on. I had to leave when Justice Zaldivar was eloquently making the case that the Mexican High Court was a Constitutional Court, not a Court of Appeal; and hence arguing- I believe- that the Court was not in the business of redoing another Florence’s trial all over again.
Later on, I would learn that the verdict was 3-2 for Olga Sanchez Cordero’s proposal and that Florence was to be freed immediately.
I visited Florence on December 29 of last year for the second time in the Centro de Readaptación Femenil de Tepepan in Mexico City. She knew a review of her case by the Supreme Court was pending but did not know when at this time. We talked about her projects if…. Yet she was evasive, even tense, while talking about herself. She has developed a real talent for painting in jail and was about to give painting classes – along with aerobic classes- to her fellow inmates; What struck me was that she was much more eloquent about what she wanted to do for women who like her, were in jail for reasons as shaky as those for which she was incarcerated. I could not help but think that if I were in her shoes – innocent and in jail for seven years- I would be devoured by bitterness and anger and not necessarily think of the fate of my brethren…
The Supreme Court’s decision is real good news for Florence; it is also real good news for justice in Mexico. Televisa’s apology for having staged Florence’s arrest (finally) on December 2005 , is a sign that things may change. Also, Mexico has to be a better place to get justice now that former Presidente Felipe Calderón is not around. He himself may touch on that in his lectures at Harvard…
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Posted in Abduction Legal or Not, Florence Cassez, Personal, tagged Arturo García, Arturo Zaldívar, Damien Cave, El Universal, Felipe Calderón, Isabel Miranda de Wallace, Jesús Aranda, Jorge Pardo Rebolledo, José Carreño Carlón, José Ramón Cossío, La Jornada, the New York Times on March 22, 2012|
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I have been holding my breath for more than a week, since the President of the Mexican Supreme Court Arturo Zaldívar put on the Court agenda Florence Cassez’s unconditional and immediate liberation. I thought this time, Florence would be whiffing Spring time outside of jail for the first time in six years. The Court decision came yesterday, March 21 and it is disappointing, for Florence Cassez and for the Mexican justice system: although four judges acknowledged serious violations of Florence’ human rights had flawed due process, only two voted for her immediate liberation. A majority of three was needed.
I am no Mexican constitutional lawyer, but I have to confess that the positions of those judges who did not see yesterday the legal imperative to let Florence go are quite puzzling: Pardo Rebollado for instance, stated that it was not “the appropriate legal moment” for the Supreme Court to take on the task to liberate Florence (when will it be if not now, let alone yesterday?); For Ramón Cossío, violations to due process in Cassez’s case were not serious enough to warrant her liberation; he wants another trial. As if the Mexican justice system had not shown enough it was prone to commit type I errors – put innocents in jail and for that matter, Florence- not to give it another chance to do so…
It is clear one would not be that tempted to second guess the Mexican Supreme Court decision had President Calderón refrained from telling it how he wanted it to rule. Before the Supreme Court rendered its decision, Felipe Calderón urged it to take into account the victims of kidnappings. In so doing, Calderón encroached on the prerogatives of the judiciary. This is actually quite consistent with his administration practices, which blur the borders between justice and police actions: Genaro Garcia Luna, the Secretary of Public Safety since 2006, cooks proofs, produces victims and culprits and stages them for TV.
President Calderón posturing as the knight of victims of kidnapping has something tragically ironical to it. According to Damien Cave in a March 17 New York Times article, reported abductions in Mexico are up 300% since 2005. There is even a new trend going on: the kidnapping of entire families. Keeping Florence Cassez in jail at any price is about all that Calderón has yet left to mislead the Mexican people on the calamitous outcome of his administration in the area of crime prevention, kidnappings included.
One day will come, soon I hope, when Mexicans will not buy anymore the Calderón-Wallace propaganda that sells Florence’s liberation as a favor to a foreigner, but will realize that liberating an innocent – who happened to be a foreigner- is a favor to the Mexican justice system and to Mexicans. Meanwhile, hold on Florence. Abrazos.
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