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Homophobia in Mexico: Agustín Estrada Negrete

Agustín Estrada Negrete, moments before the cops took him to a basement. Via La Jornada

Agustín Estrada Negrete, moments before the cops took him to a basement. Foto: José Hernández, via La Jornada.

The worst nightmare for a queer person became reality for Professor Agustín Estrada Negrete last May 7th. He was arrested and beaten by the police in the State of Mexico, and then taken to the federal maximum security prison, Almoloya de Juárez, where he was sexually abused.

Estrada Negrete’s story began a year ago, when as a director of a school for children with disabilities, Centro de Atención Múltiple (CAM), he was invited by the Human Rights Coordination in Ecatepec to celebrate the International Day Against Homophobia. Professor Estrada Negrete wore a red dress, emulating a character from the movie The Birdcage, walking along with his mother, Guadalupe Estrada, during the parade. The image appeared in  local papers, which prompted some teachers to denounce Estrada Negrete as a dangerous person for the children he taught at the CAM.

A few days later, Ernesto Monroy Yurrieta, undersecretary of Elementary Education in the State of Mexico, offered Estrada Negrete a one-year-leave. During that year, parents and students organized 17 rallies asking the authorities to reinstate Agustín Estrada Negrete as director of the CAM.

As a result of the protests, Deputy Secretary General of State, Luis Felipe Puente Espinoza, scheduled a meeting to resolve the issue. Estrada Negrete arrived, followed by his lawyer Jaime López Vela, a LGBT activist, as well as parents and students that support the professor. At the same time, police corps arrived in order to stop any attempt of the group to talk to the governor in front of the TV cameras that were already placed in front of the municipal building.

Nervous about the presence of Enrique Peña Nieto, governor of the State of Mexico, Puente Espinoza tried to deter the protesters, and allowed entrance only to Estrada Negrete. When Estrada asked for the presence of his lawyer, parents and students suddenly realized that the lawyer/activist was already being beaten inside a patrol car. Estrada Negrete tried to run towards the vehicle, but several cops stopped him and beat him and other protesters–among them, mothers and children.

Estrada Negrete was taken to the basement of the building of the Ministry of Justice., where he was tortured by police. His lawyer received the same treatment, although separately. After an entire day of physical assaults, Estrada Negrete was taken to Almoloya de Juárez, a maximum security prison where drug cartel leaders, kidnappers, and murderers share space. There, the torture and humiliation continued, until an anonymous con man handed a phone card to Professor Estrada and informed him that other prisoners were planning to kill him.

Fortunately, Professor Estrada could call his sister. On May 8th, Estrada Negrete stepped out of Almoloya, after paying a $2000 fine. When he tried to formally complain about the sexual assault, authorities in charge said “We are not allowed to take any declaration from you”.

Today, Agustín Estrada is in a hidden place, where he has received some help from the United Nations. Even though the UN accused the government of the State of Mexico of homophobia, torture, and sexual abuse, the action seems useless in face of a goverment that holds the second place for homophobic crimes in the whole country.

Agustín Negrete is now making public the names of the “authorities” who permitted his torture: Gerardo Dorantes Mora, general secretary of government, Luis Felipe Puente Espinoza, Norma Alejandra Sandoval Márquez, current director of the CAM 33 y 34, Óscar Mañón, chief of the police office, and Óscar Hernández Suárez, public ministry agent.

If you want to know more about this painful case, click here for a radio interview with Estrada Negrete, and here for more information in English.

Much of the information included in this post was taken from an article written by Óscar Daniel Balderas Méndez.

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