09/20/11 — Authorities announced that the body of Mexican Congressman Moisés Villanueva de La Cruz, 46, was found on September 18 along the same Guerrero highway where he was reported missing. Guerrero state police chief Ramon Almonte reported that residents found the badly decomposed bodies of both Villanueva and his driver in a river in Huamuxtitlan and alerted police on Saturday. The bodies were not immediately identified due to the advanced state of decomposition. The Chilpancingo Forensic Examiner (Servicio Médico Forense, SEMEFO) confirmed that a bullet to the temple killed both of the victims. Forensic examinations indicated they had been dead for at least eight days and shot at close range. Both men were wearing the same clothes they day they disappeared.
Lawmakers from Villanueva’s political party, the Institutional Revolutionary Party (Partido Revolucionario Institucional, PRI) called Monday for an immediate investigation of the killing. Villanueva went missing September 4, after attending the birthday party of Javier Morales Prieto, a local legislator in Tlapa de Comonfort. News of the federal lawmaker’s death spurred an investigation to determine if the slaying was connected with organized crime or extortion. “It could be simply a personal matter, we don’t know, but whatever it is, we want to know soon,” said PRI Rep. Carlos Flores Rico. Other members of the party demanded that authorities investigate a possible political connection to Villanueva’s murder.
“It is very unfortunate…the climate of instability which is engulfing the country,” said Fausto Vallejo Figueroa, who is running for governor in the central state of Michoacán. Mexico’s Secretary of the Interior (Secretaría de Gobernación, Segob) condemned the killing and pledged that federal authorities and the Attorney General’s Office (Procuraduría General de la República, PGR) would aid in the investigation.
In a statement signed by mayors and federal deputies of the local PRI, the state party leadership has stated that the Secretary of State for Rural Development, Socorro Hernández Ramírez, a PRI politician who left the party to join the Democratic Revolution Party (Partido de la Revolución Democrática, PRD), would have brought political pressure against Villanueva to try to subordinate their interests. Socorro replied that the accusation is creating a “political lynching war.” Guerrero PRI president Efrén Leyva continued to publish a letter in local newspapers urging authorities to investigate Socorro Ramírez.
The PRI also alleges that after the disappearance, they sought an interview with the Governor of Guerrero but were denied the opportunity to meet. “We strongly condemn the attitude of the Chief Executive of the State, not having attended the hearing request that at various times and by various means, challenged the parliamentary wing of our party’s federal representatives to discuss the disappearance (…) of Moisés and driver Eric Vásquez Estrada,” the party’s statement read. “This and others are such serious occurrences in the life of the country, that it forces all of us to profoundly reflect on how to face, with all the tools of the law within our reach, the scourge of insecurity,” added fellow PRI lawmakers.
More information about Villanueva’s disappearance can be found here.