Cardinal Juan Posadas Ocampo was gunned down May 24, 1993, in the parking lot of Guadalajara International Airport, along with six other persons.
Twenty-one years after the cardinal’s death, the assassination has never been solved, with accusations levied against both drug cartels and the Mexican government of the time.
Attorney Jesus Becerra Pedrote has traced the investigations and red herrings following the murder of the Archbishop of Guadalajara, publishing his findings in a new book, “The Jackals,” asking that the truth about the affair finally come to light.
The assassination of Cardinal Posadas “involved people of the inner circle of the then-president of Mexico, Carlos Salinas de Gortari,” according to Becerra.
“There is no evidence that the president ordered the assassination, but there is evidence that the president’s men committed the assassination,” the lawyer told CNA May 21.
Cardinal Posadas was killed while sitting in his car at the airport. He was shot 14 times with automatic weapons.
He was at the airport awaiting the arrival of Archbishop Girolamo Prigione, who was then apostolic nuncio to Mexico.
Becerra’s book reports his 20 years of investigation into the matter with Fernando Guzman, who had been deputy and part of a small commission of investigation established within the Mexican parliament under the administration Ernesto Zedillo, president from 1994 to 2000.
Guzman told CNA May 21 that “despite the official conclusions of a government inquiry” claiming the cardinal was caught in a shootout between rival cartels and was “mistakenly identified with the drug lord El Chapo Guzman (of the Sinaloa Cartel) … there was a social request to carry on a new inquiry.”
“There were many witnesses, and many of them spoke about an execution.”
The investigation had been stuck and slowed down from 1994 to 2000. During that time, Mexico was governed by the Institutional Revolutionary Party, to which president Salinas belonged.
The inquiry then progressed under the 2000-2006 administration of Vicente Fox, of the National Action Party. Under Fox, both independent lawyers and members of the Church were able to take part in inquiry commissions.
“We had heard of some videos of the executions, but the court at first responded us there were no video,” Guzman recounted. “Then, the progress of the inquiry from 2000 to 2002 led us to know that there actually was a video.”
“We have never found the video recording, but we are certain that the video had been filmed.”
Guzman also said that “the witness of an old friend of Cardinal Posadas showed that the cardinal had been received in the presidential residence Los Spinos 18 days before his assassination, and on that occasion he had been threatened for having complained about the production of drug cartels in Jalisco.”
Becerra underscored: “it is clear that officials of the then-government took part in the assassination,” even though “only now can we emphasize this.”
“There are almost 10 witnesses who recounted that rifle-armed men encircled the cardinal and discharged their rifles on the him,” Becerra stated.
According to the report of forensic doctor Mario Rivas, Cardinal Posadas’ body was riddled by 14 bullets, fired from fewer than 3 feet away.
“There is a lot of evidence that the assassination was premeditated,” the attorney said.
According to Becerra “the general Gutierrez Rebollo, who had spent several years imprisoned for alleged drug trafficking, has said the scenario to kill the cardinal had been prepared.”
“The assassination was not just because of drug trafficking or the cartels.”
“It was because the courageous Cardinal Posadas raised his head against all of these issues.”
Becerra said, “we can discuss whether it was a state crime or not, but the investigations made by public prosecutors involve top levels of the Mexican army and intelligence.”
He added that “the Church has always maintained that Cardinal Posada’s death was an execution, and it is only because of their effort that we can now be aware of more details of the assassination.”
According to the Mexican daily El Universal, Cardinal Posadas’ successor, Jose Robles Ortega, said at a May 20 presentation of Becerra’s book in Rome that the Church hopes that he “will be officially declared a martyr, the first step toward his possible beatification.”
“The last thing our country needs at this time is revenge,” said Cardinal Robles. “We are moved solely by the desire to live in peace, to live as brothers, though on the basis of truth and of justice.”
“I am moved by the desire that justice is done to my predecessor, a man who fought for peace, for the good of Mexico, and for love of the Church.”
Becerra concluded, saying that investigations “continue, in any case. Just six weeks ago we received new information, and public authorities have been strongly pushing in the search for truth.”
“Today, president Enrique Pena Nieto has the opportunity to search for concord and to establish justice.”
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