03/18/12 – On May 9, the body of human rights activist Agnes Torres Hernández (28) was found in the state of Puebla on the outskirts of San Jerónimo Coyula with all signs pointing to homicide. The body showed signs of burn marks and was partially clothed, and her throat was slit. Torres’ abandoned car was also found, although it had been set on fire and badly burned. The victim’s family recovered the body and held a funeral service this past Tuesday, March 13.
A week and a half after the murder, authorities arrested four suspects –Luis Fernando Bueno Mazzocco, Augustín Flores Zechinelli, Marco Antonio Berra Espezzia, and a minor– and are searching for a fifth, Jorge Flores Zecchinelli (18), who also happened to be Torres’ boyfriend at the time of her death. The five individuals involved in the murder invited Torres’ to a fake birthday party for Bueno Mazzocco. Upon her arrival, they stole her car and killed the activist, ditching her body by the road and torching the car to cover their tracks, although they originally planned to sell the vehicle for profit. Torres’ boyfriend has allegedly escaped to neighboring Yucatán to evade authorities where he is in hiding. Officials from both states, including the Puebla Attorney General’s Office (Procuraduría General de Justicia del Estado, PGJE) and the Yucatán Public Prosecutor’s Office (Fiscalía General del Gobierno de Yucatán), are currently collaborating to track down Flores Zechinelli. According to Milenio, in reference to bringing the suspects, including Torres’ fugitive boyfriend, to justice for the robbery and homicide, the Government of Puebla under Secretary General Fernando Manzanilla has vowed to “take a stand against both impunity and in favor of respect, freedom, and dignity for all human beings.”
Torres was a well-known activist and proponent of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) rights, and her brutal murder, according to Mexican human rights activist José Ángel Aguilar Gil, is representative of the “prejudice that still exists in the country” towards members of the LGBT community. Human rights organizations –particularly LGBT groups– around the country immediately began calling for government investigations into the suspected hate crime, pointing out that, according to varied reports, there have been over 700 registered hate crime homicides targeting members of the LGBT community throughout Mexico since 2005, and at least 20 in the state of Puebla alone during that time. Using the increased attention on the subject matter, such organizations have been calling for increased pressure on lawmakers to classify anti-gay related crimes as hate crimes. According to the president of the LGBT organization at the national level, Jaime López Vega, such an initiative has already been presented to the Senate for approval.