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Increase In Violence and Discrimination By Police In Mexico City

The LA Times tells the story of Jonathan Zamora, a 31-year old man from Mexico City, who was detained and beaten by police in that city simply for being gay. While Mexico City is seemingly gay-friendly (same-sex marriage is legal as are adoptions by gay couples), LGBT people have recently reported more and more discrimination from police.

MexicocityThe abuse Zamora experienced by the authorities:

He claimed four officers entered his cell and proceeded to punch and kick him. Zamora said he was then taken to a hospital, examined, returned to a police station and let go, ending an ordeal that lasted about eight hours.

"In my case, it wasn't just about a lack of training, it was a lack of everything," he said. "How can you hire people who are aggressive, violent, who don't behave like community?"

This week has seen the introduction of new regulations distributed to Mexico City police officers:

New police protocols published Thursday instruct officers to treat lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people “with respect for human rights” and to respect their “gender identity.” They also prohibit the use of insulting language or degrading comments.

"First, the police have to recognize that we're people," said Jaime Lopez Vela, a longtime gay rights activist who helped draft the new rules. "We've been talking about this for years. It's been on the agenda, and sadly, it's been expedited by the recent aggressions."

Meanwhile the police officers who violently beat Zamora have yet to face any disciplinary action.


High Court Ruling Striking Down Ban on Same-Sex Marriage in Mexico Made Public

Last December Mexico's highest court made a unanimous ruling striking down the ban on same-sex marriage in three cases (they must also strike it down in two more for it to have any effect nationally) out of the southern state of Oaxaca, and the ruling was not published at the time.

OaxacaIt was made public Monday, Buzzfeed reports:

The ruling not only makes a strong statement about Mexican law's treatment of equal protection guarantees, it also relies heavily on civil rights rulings handed down by the U.S. Supreme Court. Although several justices of the American court take pride in not caring what foreign courts say, any who read the Mexican decision will find the court makes an impassioned case for the United States to follow its lead.

Writing for a unanimous tribunal, Minister Arturo Zaldívar Lelo de Larrea invoked the U.S. cases Loving v. Virginia and Brown v. Board of Education to argue for marriage equality in a way that American activists would be overjoyed to see from a justice of the U.S. Supreme Court.

Buzzfeed adds:

Despite its breadth, this ruling will have only a small immediate impact in Mexico.

Technicalities of the country's legal system mean that only the three couples who brought this case will be able to marry right away. Mexico City is still the only jurisdiction inside Mexico where marriage between same-sex couples is fully legal; several more lawsuits will have to be brought before that right is available nationwide.

Unlike in the United States, it takes more than one ruling from Mexico's Supreme Court to strike down a law—the court must rule the same way in five separate cases before a law falls. This ruling concerns three separate cases; it will take two more for any same-sex couple in Oaxaca to be able to wed easily, and then the process may have to be repeated in other states. But this precedent means this is a procedural issue, not a legal one.


Journalists Remember Late Gay Reporter Armando Montano

AMontanoAs news broke of gay AP intern Armando Montano's death, his fellow journalist friends put digital pen to paper to remember the 22-year old journalist.

Via Metro Weekly comes this memory from Aaron Edwards, an intern at The New York Times:

About one year ago, when Armando Montano and I went to the Chips Quinn Scholars Program, a journalism training program geared to young journalists of minority backgrounds, he started beaming when he found out that because we were Chips Quinn Scholars we would get free access to the Newseum, an interactive journalism museum in Washington, D.C.

But his excitement stemmed from more than the fact that he could now go and geek out over historic front pages and archival photographs from The New York Times and The Washington Post whenever he wanted. Armando, or “Mando” as many called him for short, was excited because he was adamant and steadfast in the idea that he would marry the love of his life there.

“I’m going to get married in the Newseum, Aaron. I'm going to get married at the freakin' Newseum.” he would tell me.

Mando was sure that he would stand on the balcony of that building one day and say “I Do” to a man who loved him enough to understand and cherish a guy whose quirky soul led him to want to get married atop a national journalism museum.   

Marissa Evans, an intern at the Washington Post, also memorialized Montano. The late writer's enthusiasm for his craft — and indeed life — was so contagious that Evans and he formed a deep friendship based solely on online correspondence.

Evans writes, "Looking through my Gmail chats with him, I had only started talking to him on August 1, 2011. Our friendship is built upon 72 hilarious chat sessions plus countless Facebook comments/likes and Twitter mentions and retweets."

"As journalists, we harp so much about using social media to be an extension of our brand but it furrows my brow to think about how we sometimes forget to use it to truly connect with the people we friend and follow."


Gay American AP Intern Found Dead In Mexico City

AMontanoTwenty-two year old Armando Montano, an American journalist interning for the Associated Press, was found dead in an elevator shaft this weekend. The causes of the Colorado Springs resident's death are unknown and the U.S. Embassy there is monitoring the investigation.

The Washington Post offers more information about Montano's regrettably short career:

The Colorado Springs, Colorado, resident arrived in Mexico City in early June after graduating from Grinnell College with a bachelor’s degree in Spanish and a concentration in Latin American studies.

During his time in the bureau, Montano covered stories including the saga of nine young elephants from Namibia who wound up on an animal reserve in Mexico’s Puebla state, and the shooting of three federal policemen at the Mexico City airport.

He was not on assignment at the time of his death.

...

"Armando was a smart, joyful, hardworking and talented young man," said Marjorie Miller, AP’s Latin America editor based in Mexico City.

"He absolutely loved journalism and was soaking up everything he could,” said Miller. "In his short time with the AP, he won his way into everyone’s hearts with his hard work, his effervescence and his love of the profession."

Montano planned on getting a master's in journalism at the University of Barcelona come fall. The Massachusetts-born journo was also a member of the National Lesbian & Gay Journalists Association.


Parolee Murdered U.S. Flight Attendant Nick Aaronson After Meeting Him at Mexico City Gay Bar

Ramirez

Yesterday I reported on the tragic murder of US Airways flight attendant Nick Aaronson, who was found bound and strangled in his hotel room in Mexico City. At the time it was reported that a man had been arrested.

That man is Jose Luis Ramirez, a convicted criminal out of prison on parole, also known by another alias, José Luis Cuellar, and a nickname (The Shadow), according to Mexican paper Excelsior.

Surveillance still images show the two men entering the hotel at the front desk and at the elevator bank.

Surve

The Examiner adds:

"Excelsior further reports that the footage shows the two men were stopped by hotel security upon entering the hotel, being assured by the victim that the man was a friend.  Hotel personnel then requested the additional guest be registered.  Ramirez was later apprehended by local authorities near the Cinema Club, a nearby gay bar where the suspect first met the victim, although he had shaved his head to change his appearance. Handwriting analysis later confirmed the identity of Ramirez as being the man who appears in the footage."

Reuters adds: Aaronson

Ramirez, who has been in jail before, admitted to entering Aaronson's room and beating him. He shaved his head to avoid detection but authorities found him around the same bar in Mexico City's historical center where he and Aaronson first met.

Anita Aaronson, Nick's mother, poured out her emotion on her Facebook page, posting videos of the young redhead singing karaoke. She said on Sunday the Federal Bureau of Investigation called her to say her son's killer was in custody. "I can't stop thinking about my boy, he died in such an awful way, I keep thinking of his pain and fear," she wrote.

The motive for the murder was robbery, according to Mexico City prosecutor Miguel Angel Mancera, for which Ramirez had a previous criminal record. Ramirez was apprehended because he stole Aaronson's iPhone and authorites were able to track the suspect down using the GPS on the phone.

The Guardian adds:

"When officers paraded Ramirez before journalists Monday, he told reporters that he had turned himself at the bar where authorities said he and Aaronson met. Ramirez said with profane language that he only punched Aaronson twice but insisted he did not kill the victim. He claimed a 15-year-old friend was responsible for the slaying of Aaronson, who was based in Phoenix, Arizona. Mancera said Ramirez will remain in custody of prosecutors before seeing a judge."

Our deepest condolences to Nick Aaronson's family, friends, and fellow employees.


U.S. Airways Flight Attendant Found Strangled, Beaten in Mexico City

A Phoenix-based U.S. Airways flight attendant was found strangled and beaten in his Mexico City hotel room over the weekend, KPHO reports:

AaronsonA Mexico City paper said that Aaronson, who lived in the Phoenix area, was found on the floor of his room by his co-workers just after 6 a.m. Saturday morning at a five star Hilton hotel. The paper said he was strangled with a belt around his neck and hands tied behind his back, according to NoticiasMexico.com.mx. Prosecutors said no drugs, weapons or messages were found in the room.

A man has been arrested in connection with Aaronson's murder, according to his mother Anita Aaronson:

Anita said the FBI called her at 2:30 Sunday morning to tell her they had made an arrest. She said they used hotel security cameras to catch the man. Meanwhile, a friend of the family told CBS 5 News on Sunday that the suspect stole Nick's iPhone and police were able to track the suspect using the phone's GPS system.

"I wish they had the death penalty in Mexico. He took the bright light out of my life. He was only 27 and he had so much to live for and he was so charming and was just a really nice man," Anita said about the suspect and her son.

The blog LGBTQ Nation reports that "Aaronson, who was gay, was active in several LGBT rights causes, including participating in the NOH8 Campaign, was a supporter of marriage equality, and advocated on behalf of the Human Rights Campaign."

The victim's sexuality has not been confirmed in any of the mainstream news reports I have seen yet.

Watch a KPHA report, AFTER THE JUMP...

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