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.