Everyone knows about the river of blood – criminals’, bystanders’, and good guys’ – flowing in Mexican streets as the country tries to get on top of its drug trafficking problem and the corruption of police and military it has engendered. What’s less well known is the pervasive inability of the criminal justice system to protect citizens from ordinary crime by distinguishing real perps from victims of police setups and frames, a situation that probably has a fair amount to do with the drug war’s gruesome persistence.
Two of our students, Roberto Hernandez and Layda Negrete, have kicked this latter hornets’ nest with amazing results, making a documentary about one murder investigation and trial that is changing the world south of the border, and maybe elsewhere. But the system to which police and trial judges have accommodated themselves over decades isn’t going down without a fight. After having given false testimony against defendant Toño, and recanted it in a second trial that was only possible because the defense lawyer in the first had forged his license papers, the sole witness has decided that he would prefer his humiliation not be made public, and a judge in Mexico has enjoined showing the movie. Of course it’s unthinkable that the cops and prosecutors stood him up for this charade.
These Abogados Con Cámaras could use some help (no good deed goes unpunished: all the profits from the theatrical distribution are being contributed to a criminal justice NGO) in cash, and in print. Now it’s not just a justice issue, but also a free speech issue; censorship and corruption hiding behind a ludicrous privacy figleaf.