There was a “chain of negligence” in the investigation into the abduction of a 7-year-old girl whose body was found in a bag in southern Mexico City on Saturday, Mayor Claudia Sheinbaum said Monday, while President López Obrador claimed that the murder is linked to “social breakdown” caused by neoliberalism.
Speaking to reporters outside the Mexico City Institute of Forensic Sciences, where the body of Fátima Cecilia Aldrighett Antón was taken after it was found on a vacant lot in the borough of Tláhuac, Sheinbaum said that both the Attorney General’s Office (FGJ) and the Secretariat of Citizens Security failed to respond adequately to the girl’s abduction from outside her school last Tuesday.
“There is a chain of negligence at the institutions and to change that we need to know the truth from the beginning to the end. When was the first complaint [about Fátima’s disappearance] filed? … How did all the institutions act?” she said.
“We’re going to announce the complete truth because if we want the institutions to change we have to know the truth. That’s my commitment as mayor and I’m also going to devote more [of my] time … [to the issue of] safety for the girls and women of this city,” Sheinbaum said.
Family members claimed Monday that Fátima’s life could have been saved if authorities had responded differently.
Sonia López, the girl’s aunt, said that “Fátima is not with us because the protocols were not followed, because the institutions did not give the attention they should have.”
She said that authorities wasted precious time after Fátima was first reported missing and that prior to the abduction, Mexico City health and family welfare agencies had failed to provide assistance to the girl’s mother, who has health problems.
An elder sister of the deceased girl said that police didn’t start investigating Fátima’s disappearance until Saturday, four days after she went missing – and the day her body was found.
While Sheinbaum conceded that negligence was a factor that may have contributed to the girl’s death, other Mexico City authorities appeared to apportion blame to Fátima’s parents.
Attorney General Ernestina Godoy said in radio interviews that the girl’s parents suffer from “senile dementia” and “mental illness,” while the DIF family services agency released a statement that said that it had records dating back to November 2015 that Fátima had been subjected to domestic violence, neglect and psychological abuse.
Asked at a press conference whether the DIF’s release of such information represented a violation of due process, Godoy said that she wasn’t aware of the details that were made public.
The attorney general also said that investigations into Fátima’s disappearance began on February 12 – the day she said she was officially reported as missing – and that if FGJ officials are found to have been negligent, they will face sanctions.
Godoy explained that the girl’s murder was not related to organ trafficking, as the National Commission of Human Rights suggested, and asserted that the man that Fátima’s mother accused of killing her daughter is dead.
María Magdalena Antón had accused a man by the name of Alan Herrera of murdering not just Fátima but also her sister and brother-in-law.
Responding to Godoy’s mental illness claim, she said: “I’m not crazy. Each one of you who mocks me, tomorrow it could be your daughters [who are murdered].”
Antón reportedly arrived late last Tuesday to collect Fátima from the Enrique Rébsamen primary school in the Tulyehualco neighborhood of the southern Mexico City borough of Xochimilco.
By the time she arrived, her daughter had left the school with an unidentified woman who allegedly took Fátima to a home in the same borough in a white car.
Amid criticism that the school had failed in its duty by allowing her to leave the school with a stranger, the Mexico City chief of the Federal Education Authority, Luis Humberto Fernández, announced that the principal would be suspended while an investigation takes place.
FGJ spokesman Ulises Lara López said that a reward of 2 million pesos (US $108,000) is on offer for information leading to the arrest of the person or people involved in the abduction and murder of the girl.
For his part, President López Obrador said Monday that crimes such as the murder of Fátima are linked to a “process of [societal] degradation that is [in turn] related to the neoliberal [economic] model.”
“The extent of social breakdown produced by neoliberal policy cannot be measured; there is a profound crisis in loss of values,” he said.
The president blames all manner of problems, including corruption, violence and poverty, on the pro-market policies implemented by the past five “neoliberal” governments that ruled Mexico between 1988 and 2018.
López Obrador declared on Monday that the government is doing all it can to combat femicides – the death of Fátima came a week after the brutal murder of 25-year-old Ingrid Escamilla – and called on “feminists” not to “paint doors and walls” during protests, as occurred last Friday at the National Palace.
“We’re working so that there are no femicides. We’re not pretending,” he said.
Ruling party Senator Martí Batres also claimed that the high levels of femicide (a crime in which a woman or girl is killed on account of her gender) in Mexico – there were more than 1,000 victims last year – are a product of neoliberalism.
The Morena party lawmaker said that women who moved to Ciudad Juárez, Chihuahua, in search of jobs at factories on the Mexico-United States border were the first victims of neoliberalism-linked femicide. There were almost 400 victims of the crime in the border city in a 12-year period to 2005.
“Workers in the border factories, far from their cities of origin and their families, without a social protection network, were the first victims,” Batres wrote on Twitter.
“After that came the war on drugs [launched by former president Felipe Calderón in 2006] – and its consequences of rapes and massacres – which turned femicide into a national problem,” he said.