A Tijuana university student who was just months away from graduating as a pharmaceutical chemist and biologist was murdered late last month, apparently for refusing to cook synthetic drugs for narcos.
Juan Manuel Delgado Cárdenas, 23, a clinical laboratory employee and student at the Autonomous University of Baja California (UABC), was killed on April 30 by armed men who broke into his family’s home in the Tijuana neighborhood of El Florido.
Two of Delgado’s siblings and two of his friends were wounded in the attack, which was allegedly perpetrated by three men, none of whom have been arrested. A 12-year-old boy who was shot while playing video games with his brother to celebrate Children’s Day remained hospitalized on Saturday, the news website Zeta Tijuana reported.
According to the newspaper Milenio, the Baja California Attorney General Office’s most solid line of investigation is that a drug cartel attempted to lure the 23-year-old to its ranks so that it could make use of his knowledge to manufacture drugs such as methamphetamine. But Delgado, a keen runner who taught boxing to disadvantaged kids in his spare time, refused.
The student was buried last week after a funeral service led by Rodrigo Salinas, a Tijuana priest. Delgado set an example for others by choosing good over evil, the priest said.
“This is a message for all the young people who are carried away by the desire … for money and power,” Salinas told Milenio after the funeral service.
Delgado’s death shocked and frightened other Tijuana university students, some of whom joined a protest on Saturday at the Tijuana campus of the National Pedagogical University (UPN), where the victim’s sister, Marena Delgado, studies.
The students demanded that Baja California authorities fulfill their responsibility to provide security to citizens and ensure that justice is served in the case of Delgado and other university students who have recently been murdered in Tijuana, among whom was Paulina Michelle Casillas Martínez, a UABC tourism studies major whose burnt body was found last week with that of her boyfriend, Humberto Mejía Sandoval, in a clandestine grave.
Their message was forceful but the turnout at the protest was small, a circumstance that was attributed to students’ fear that they too could be targeted by organized crime.
“I believe that the clearest proof that young people are afraid is that they preferred not to come — not all of them — and we have to respect their decision and support them,” a UPN professor told Zeta Tijuana.
“We don’t want to live with this fear,” one student said. “What happened to Juan Manuel Delgado Cárdenas happened at his home; it’s ugly that you’re not even safe in your own home. … I don’t want to be studying today and appear in the news tomorrow … [because] I was found in a [hidden] grave,” he said.
A female student told Zeta that news of Delgado’s death was even more shocking because it occurred on Children’s Day and was witnessed by his younger brother.
“How could you imagine that at a time of celebration, [criminals] would come and take [the life] of a person so close to you. … We’re here to ask for justice for all the students who are no longer with us and especially to support my classmate, Marena,” she said.
“It makes me sad and angry,” another young woman said. “… We’re students. We want to prepare ourselves to have a better future, … to make a better future for Mexico, and knowing that they’re stealing our dreams … makes us angry.”