02/25/11 – Early this morning Mexican police found three bodies that have been identified as family members of the slain activist Josefina Reyes Salazar. They have been identified as Josefina’s brother Elias Reyes Salazar, her sister Magdalena Reyes Salazar, and her in-law, Elias’ wife Luisa Ornelas. All three have been missing since February 7 when, according to witnesses, they were forced out of their vehicle after armed men surrounded it. The three were found on the outskirts of Guadalupe Distrito Bravos in southeast Ciudad Juárez with messages that alluded to organized crime.
Josefina Reyes Salazar was slain over a year ago on January 3, 2010 in Ciudad Juárez. She was a well known activist who led protests against alleged abuses by Mexican soldiers in the Juarez Valley. Since her death, her family has suffered from a series of vicious and deadly attacks. Josefina’s brother, Rubén Reyes, was found dead in August of last year. The individuals behind his murder were never caught. Just this month on February 16, Josefina’s mother Sara Salazar, had her house burned down while she was out protesting that authorities take action and discover who are responsible for the kidnapping of her children. This incident stimulated protests in Mexico City where until this morning, the Reyes Salazar family had a tent set up outside of the Federal Senate building. The Reyes family’s case has led organizations such as Amnesty International to urge Mexico to protect the safety of human rights activists.
At a press conference held early this morning, a spokesman for the family named Adrian Fuentes stated that, “the Reyes Salazar family, since the death of Josefina in 2010, has been the victim of a brutal harassment, partly by the state and partly by criminality. The demand for justice will not stop.” Sara Reyes’ two daughters, Marisela and Claudia, were also present. They demanded that Ciudad Juárez’s Assistant District Attorney, Jorge González Nicolás, resign from his post for failure to guarantee the safety and lives of their family. The family holds him responsible for these deaths since he failed to provide them and the general population of Ciudad Juárez with security. Marisela claims that the family has been ignored by the state and federal government since the slaying of her sister Josefina and the kidnappings of the three family members. The governor of Chihuaha, César Duarte, had apparently refused to help them.
Claudia Reyes Salazar harshly critiqued President Calderón during the conference. She stated that, “he only came to militarize the city with federal officials. It is disgusting, and this incident has shown what is really going on. We demand that he withdraw federal troops and finally end this dirty war that the town did not ask for.” She also claimed that their case should have been treated like the case of Jaimie Zapata, a US ICE agent who was murdered earlier this month in Mexico. Just a few days after his death, the Mexican government had already found a suspect in his murder.
The Reyes Salazar family will be returning to Ciudad Juárez later tonight to finalize funeral arrangements.