22 months later


It’s been a while since we last posted here. This post follows the assassination of another Canadian woman in her 60’s in Mexico. The relative security and the types of reaction to these types of news will first be explored. Then what do Canadian living such nightmares might expect. Finally, there’s the update about the Renée’s case.

All our condolences to friends and family of Judith Zena Baylis, a Canadian citizen who was murdered in Mexico recently (June 26). She was killed in a suburb of San Miguel de Allende, a so called “safe” Mexican city. “Only” three Americans (“Andrew”, Peter C. Mudge and Joseph Henry Feuerborn) were killed over a three weeks period last January. Also, Debbie McKeen, from Vancouver was found dead on February 21st, 2011 in her hotel room.

Rest assured, San Miguel de Allende (pop. 139 297) is safe, like most places in Mexico where there are a lot of tourists/expats. Isla Mujeres is safe too, 12 642 habitants, two extremely violent murders in a 5 year span (two Caucasian women (1)(2)). Since Renée’s murder 3 other violent deaths (one involving narcos, two in the town jail (1)(2) and one known kidnapping last april. Puerto Vallarta where yet another Canadian was killed recently (Leonard Francis Schell, 25 stab wounds)  on May 30 of this year, is safe; a video mocking this can be found on youtube . It seems that knives, tourists and Mexico aren’t a good combination.

The Medias report Ms. Baylis might have known her murderer. She reportedly received 21 to 23 stabs wounds, but the only way to know will be with the autopsy report. In Renée’s case it went from around 20 to 42. 42 Was the real number but we wouldn’t want to scare people too much so let’s publish 20, because 42 would really scare them away from spending their hard earned money for a vacation in paradise, a really safe paradise.

Just like in other cases, some people express their fear for their safety, which is normal considering Canadians have 34 times more chances of getting killed in Mexico than in their homeland (and these figures start to date a bit, chances are they would be higher now). According to CTV W5, it is also, statistically, the most dangerous country for Canadians.

But as always, you have Pro-Mexico revisionists. Generally expats and tourist, they hop on the bandwagon of defending the non-defendable: “Crimes happen everywhere”, “the victim asked for it, he/she was not well traveled”, ” I go there all the time and nothing ever happened”, “I know a lot of Mexicans and they are kind people”, and on and on. We’ve heard them all. Even apologizing for the Mexican authorities for protecting tourism anyway they can, including depicting the murder victim as somewhat responsible for their own demise. Some of these arguments are sound, and true, others are plain denial and offensive to the relatives of the said victims.

Corruption and the war on drugs are two of the usual suspects, and preferred explanations for these murders. None of the murdered Canadians’ cases on Mexinada are drug related. For the corruption part, let us confirm from our experience Mexican officials are not always corruptible. So here go two other arguments for the “want to stay blind about terribly serious issues”.

We also got some other comments here that we should encourage people to go on vacation in Mexico instead of speaking the truth about what’s really happening there. Bringing money in would solve the problem … we wonder if, when their kids do bad things they also give them gifts to encourage these behaviours.

Back to the current case, will they ever know what really happened? Very little chance… The Medias are putting forward a possible robbery, even though very little things were missing. We’ve heard it before and can guarantee once the local authorities leave the scene, a lot more will be missing, no worries there.

We don’t know the laws of the state of Guanajuato, but if they are like those in Quintana Roo, good chances Ms. Baylis’s family will see their rights granted by the Mexican constitution greatly limited. If it’s the case, they will have the option to challenge those laws in Mexican Federal courts, because the Canadian authorities will only say that their aim is to make sure victims are treated as nationals. When it’s not the case, they do nothing about it. Also you really have nothing better to do when a loved one gets murdered and you only want the country where it happened to respect its own laws, than challenging state laws in a Federal court. It must be part of the “fun to live new things in another country” kind of thing. Also, being Canadian, they won’t get much help from the Foreign Affairs officials, apart from a list of names, photocopies and a smile.

Will Baylis’s family get justice? A bit more chances here. She’s from Ontario and so far, the probabilities are higher to get help from the Federal Government when you are from there (Branda Martin, Ianierio’s couple, Cody LeCompte). Also, they might need to make noise in the Medias. Without any attention, cases can get closed within a year. Though our experience has shown that making too much noise while in Mexico, might get you friendly warnings about your chance of disappearing without a trace. But not to worry, it’s a safe place, murder happens everywhere, bla bla bla. Lies and deception you get from the officials in Mexico are also part of the folklore, nothing to worry about, it’s fun and part of seeing other things, other cultures, and other places. In a place where every day you can see bloody corpses in the news stand, murders might end up being trivialized.

Another similarity in this case with our case is the probable suspect. Although in our case, the assassin was caught, there are strong evidences that Mexican and Canadian authorities still refuse to investigate, that suggests Renée’s murder was a hit. Who called it? This is where it gets eerily similar, possibly a maid or other workers hired by the victims.

22 months later we are still waiting for both Governments to finally get to the bottom of this and either clear or prosecute the man whom we’ll call Mr. JV. He was a beneficiary to some of Renée’s assets (not even 4 weeks before the murder), he was in an intimate relationship with her, something that she ended days before she died. On top of this, a call was made to his phone an hour after she was killed. The call was made from the crime scene with Renée’s phone. The phone was analyzed and entered in evidence by the local authorities. Our now dead lawyer, César Garza, also confirmed this information directly JV; the assassin called him. Mr. JV also asked us to destroy evidences; pictures of the assassin and him sitting at the same table. A mutual friend of Renée and JV, Ms. HG, took those pictures and was also involved intimately with the assassin. To this date, she still refuses to speak about the case. Isn’t it what kind and gentle people do? These questions and hard evidence have been floating around since the weeks following the murders but are yet to be answered.

At this point, all the exams the assassin underwent proved without the shadow of doubt that he doesn’t suffer from any mental illness, only serious behavioural issues. So the crazy schizo theory is now officially out. Some speculate that if it was a hit, the assassin would have implicated his friends. So far, he was never asked about these individuals, although he did mention he was involved with Ms. HG during his first (and only) interrogation. The condition in which he spent his detention greatly suggests someone is supporting him. Cigarettes, alcohol, clothing, being able to dig a wall with a fork without anyone noticing; these are just a few hints of this. We know it’s not his family since they want him in Texas for the murder of his mother. Most probably somebody on the island is supporting him.

Even if no true political will has been shown despite great effort to resolve these issues with the Canadian government, the opposition, the diplomatic corpus of both countries and even a senator who greatly support the rights for the victims, these legitimate inquiries are still vividly there and have yet to be answered. Yet seeing another terrible case with sad similarities to the ones of Renée’s only brings up how hard it is to get justice in Mexico, especially when it could hurt tourism. It let us wonder, isn’t the R.O.I. on “project clean it up” bigger than “project cover it up” in the long run for the tourism industry? How many other families have to go through such abnormal situations before something is done? Justice is pillar of democracy, Mexico has a justice system and is a democracy, but little is done when the rights of the offended are baffled. These elements are way scarier and hurtful than only the chances of getting murdered savagely.

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