Residents march for justice Monday in Teocelo. Residents march for justice Monday in Teocelo.

No progress seen in probe of ‘El Gringo’

United States-Mexican citizen was murdered in Veracruz May 4

More than two months after a United States-Mexican citizen was found murdered in his Teocelo, Veracruz, home, there is no evidence of any progress in the investigation.

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Gordon Louis Strom Diaz, known locally as “El Gringo,” was killed on May 4 during what appeared to be a robbery on his ranch on the Teocelo-El Zapote highway.

His body was subsequently found by one of Strom’s employees. He had been tied up, and there were signs that he had been struck on the head.

Strom was well known in the local community and worked on a range of community projects including local road repairs and showing people how to build inexpensive stoves that used less wood and how to make simple water filters.

He also worked in local schools teaching sustainable living practices and was always willing to lend a hand.

Five days after his murder, town residents sought meetings with representatives of the state government, bypassing local Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI) Mayor Ana Lilia López Vanda, whom they considered inefficient, oppressive and in collusion with people causing security anomalies in the municipality.

Strom’s family and local residents took to the streets on Monday, marching in protest to highlight what they believe is inefficiency and inaction by all three levels of government.

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His wife, Yvette Strom, who was in the United States at the time of his death, continues to struggle to come to terms with his death and questions why there has been no progress in the case.

“My husband has been dead for 68 days and there have been no arrests. Isn’t this news? The authorities in Mexico need to be reminded that the people and the press are watching, and that they are expected to do their jobs.”

She also reiterated that there was no motive for the murder.

“I find it hard to believe that an innocent man who worked so hard for his community was brutally murdered at his own home, and there has been no follow-up by the press.”

While the United States embassy is limited in what it can do in the case, Yvette Strom told Mexico News Daily a team is monitoring the case. She also said the embassy had been instrumental in having important evidence released to local police and that the U.S. ambassador had taken a personal interest in the case.

Strom’s murder was one of 216 reported in the first five months of 2016 in the Gulf coast state, making it one of Mexico’s most violent.

Veracruz governor Miguel Ángel Yunes Linares — in office since last December — has acknowledged the problem of violent crime in the state and has committed to increase police presence in the most affected areas.

Twenty people, including the head of the Federal Police in the state, were killed on one particularly ugly day in late June.

Yunes has also acknowledged that the incompetence of his predecessor, Javier Duarte, who fled the country but is expected to return soon to face corruption charges, contributed to the problem.

Strom’s widow — alongside residents of the quiet town located just 30 minutes away from state capital Xalapa — say they will continue to demand justice from authorities while the criminals responsible for the attack are free and perhaps committing other crimes in the municipality.

A participant in a protest march through the streets of Teocelo summed up the objective of Yvette Strom and the residents who support her.

“We’re going to seek justice every day until those responsible are tried [for their crime].”

Source: Blog Expediente (sp)

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  • Güerito

    In just the first eight months of last year, 47 community activists were killed in Mexico, including 19 in Oaxaca and 12 in Veracruz.

    http://www.sinembargo.mx/31-12-2016/3131442

    Today Global Witness released a report on environmental activists killed around the world in 2016. There were three killed in Mexico.

    https://www.globalwitness.org/en/campaigns/environmental-activists/defenders-earth/

    But, in an interview with Mexican media today, Ben Leather, one of the co-authors of the report, states that eight more have been killed in Mexico in the first five months of this year for “defending the land or natural resources.”

    http://www.eluniversal.com.mx/articulo/nacion/seguridad/2017/07/13/en-2017-van-8-ecologistas-asesinados-en-mexico

    I’m curious to know if Global Witness is including Mr. Strom in their Mexico count for 2017.

  • Beau

    Senora, mis condolencias por la perdida de su esposo. Entienda que esta usted en un pais sin ley…tome sus pertenencias y regrese a su pais antes de que la venaden. En Mexico, los criminals no ven bien a las personas que marchan por justicia o que hacen ruido buscandola.

    • Güerito

      Very good point. There have been several recent cases in Mexico involving the killing of those speaking out against impunity following the murder of a loved one.

  • Pete Larson

    This reprehensible murder is reminiscent of the murder of O’Neil McGean in Mazatlan last October. His killers have still not been brought to justice.

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