Directed by Alberto Arnaut Estrada, “In Broad Daylight: The Narvarte Case” tells us a tale of corruption, murder, and mayhem. The fascist regime of Veracruz and Mexico City wanted to have its way at all costs, and the first thing they did was curb freedom of speech through fear and terror. The fourth estate of the realm wasn’t given any choice other than to support the narrative purported by the government, and most of the big media houses gladly did so. There were a few, though, whose conscience was still alive, and they raised their voice against the injustice and corruption. They had to pay a huge price for their righteousness, and those who somehow managed to survive lived a dreaded life and took a vow to not speak a word against the establishment. “In Broad Daylight: The Narvarte Case” gives you an idea why every criminal wants to become a politician and the havoc which can be wrecked if somebody plans to misuse their power while holding an office in the government. So let’s see what exactly happened in the Narvarte case and if the authorities were able to find the culprits behind it.
What Had Happened In Narvarte, Mexico City?
On July 31, 2015, five people were found dead in an apartment in Colonia Narvarte, on Luz Savinon Street, and it caused an uproar in the entire nation. An acclaimed photojournalist named Ruben Espinosa was also among the victims, and that is why the case got a lot of attention in the media. Ruben had been a longtime critic of the governor of Veracruz, Javier Duarte de Ochoa, and that is why people believed that the murders were state-sponsored, and the governor had a role to play in it. Along with Ruben, there were four other women who had been killed in the same apartment, whose names were as follows: Nadia Vera, Alejandra Negrete, Yesenia Quiroz, and Mile Martin. When Ruben was working in Veracruz, he had accused the government of threatening him. Ruben was really scared that something might happen to him, and that is why he fled from Veracruz and went to Mexico City. Even Nadia Vera had reported the same thing and had even sought help from the authorities. But obviously, Duarte was a powerful man, and he had a strong hold over the system. Ruben had once covered the whole political campaign of Duarte and he had realized that there was a lot of corruption in the entire system, and he started speaking about it in the media.
The documentary “In Broad Daylight: The Narvarte Case” tells us that, according to records, 17 journalists were murdered during the time Duarte was in power, and it was quite evident that the state had a role to play in it. Arturo Bermudez Zurita was the chief of police in the Duarte regime, and it was a well-known fact that he worked in tandem with the governor. Zurita was nicknamed “Captain Storm” because of his arrogance and authoritarian manner of dealing with things. Zurita was not somebody with whom you could argue or keep your point. He was well aware of what he was doing, and whoever dared to speak against him had to be ready to face serious consequences. There had been rumors in the media that both of them had stolen huge sums of money from the public treasury. The problem was that whoever tried to report the crime or speak against it suddenly disappeared or got murdered, leaving no trace behind. That is why when Ruben vehemently criticized Duarte and his corrupt practices, he had an intuition that he was no longer safe in Veracruz. The first red flag that the people of Veracruz received was the murder of a journalist named Regina Martinez. Regina worked for Proceso magazine, and she was murdered in her home in Xalapa. Whoever killed her wanted to set a precedent for the other journalists and activists, as she was mercilessly beaten before being strangled to death. The police did catch a suspect, and he openly confessed to all the crimes. The convict said that he had entered the house of the journalist with the intention of stealing, but seeing the way she was ruthlessly beaten, everybody knew that he was just fabricating the truth because he wanted to save the real perpetrators. The message of the Duarte regime was loud and clear: Fall in line, or the government would use its power to coerce you to fall by the wayside.
‘In Broad Daylight: The Narvarte Case’ Explained: Who Had Murdered Ruben Espinosa And Nadia Vera?
The most disheartening thing for the family of the victims was that if Ruben Espinosa hadn’t been there, nobody would have even cared about their daughters. Alejandra Negrete worked as domestic help and was unfortunately present in the flat when the perpetrators arrived at the scene. The manner in which the news came out in the mainstream media made it feel like people didn’t care and had no empathy for the life of a person who, according to them, was inconsequential in the scheme of things. Everybody was busy making their own conspiracy theories, and nobody cared about what happened to the families of the deceased and what they had to go through. When, in 2012, Miguel Angel Mancera resigned as the attorney general, Rodolfo Fernando Rios Garza took his position. Garza didn’t have any merit and was solely given the prestigious position because of the close relationship he shared with Mancera. Garza just wanted to create a counternarrative so that he could prove that the deaths of Ruben and the four girls were not sponsored by the state. So firstly, three people were arrested by the head of police, Raul Peralta, and they confessed to their crimes without creating any hassle as if they were trying to corroborate the narrative that the state authorities wanted to create.
Pacheco Gutierrez, Abraham Torres Tranquilino, and Omar Martinez were the three perpetrators who told the authorities that they had entered the apartment with the intention of committing robbery, though there was nothing valuable that was stolen from the apartment. It once again reminded everybody of the Regina Martinez case, where a similar thing had happened. Firstly, the authorities tried to tarnish the image of the victims by saying that prohibited substances and drugs were found in the apartment. Then they came up with another narrative: that two victims, Mile and Yesenia, were involved in prostitution, and the convicts had to gone to their apartments to avail their services. The carefully designed narrative put forward by Garza and his team drove attention away from the Veracruz officials and made people forget that Ruben had said that he was being threatened by them. In fact, they came out and said that Ruben had come to Mexico City in search of new job opportunities and completely denied the fact that he had fled from Veracruz because of imminent threat to his life.
An attempt was being made to criminalize the victims, make the general public question their credibility, and deny them access to social justice. Even the lawyers Karla Michel Salas and David Pena became targets, and their personal data was leaked by the concerned authorities using Pegasus software. They believed that Miguel Angel Mancera was targeting them, as he desperately wanted them to do some damage control as the Narvarte case was becoming a headache for the government.
When Salas and Pena had gathered all the preliminary information, they decided to bring more experts on board and conduct the investigation in a systematic manner. The experts found discrepancies in the confession statements of the accused and what they could perceive by examining all the facts and evidence that were provided to them. They found out that, apart from the three people who were arrested and other suspects, there was another guy named El Duy who was involved with them, and they had arrived in not one but two cars that day. The experts were able to gather sufficient evidence to prove the fact that it was a pre-planned operation where the convicts had come with the intention to kill. The brutality that Mile and Yesenia were subjected to before being killed made it very clear that it was a case of femicide where the perpetrators also wanted to put out a social message and brag about how dominant they were as compared to the feeble and immoral women. The experts had various theories, but they couldn’t establish that the murders had been orchestrated by the Veracruz government. Abraham, one of the three people who were arrested, was called three times by somebody whose name he had saved as Storm. Everybody knew that Arturo Bermudez Zurita was referred to as “Captain Storm,” but it couldn’t be established that it was him who had called him that day. One more thing that came to be known from the call logs was the fact that the perpetrators had received 11 calls during the time they were inside the apartment. The accused had also carried tape with them, which made it very clear that firstly it was a planned attack, and whosoever was giving them the directions wanted the victims to be tortured first and then killed. It was pretty clear that the state had tried to meddle with information, conceal a lot of facts, and blatantly lie to the families of the victims. These crimes make us realize how important it is that there should be separation of power and how necessary it becomes for each wing to carry out its functions with utmost sincerity and honesty in order to prevent a state where one branch becomes autocratic. In Broad Daylight: The Narvarte Case, makes us privy to the lawlessness that existed inside Veracruz and the audacity of the leaders to publicly threaten journalists and social activists and ask them to “behave” if they didn’t want to put their life in jeopardy.
Duarte was found guilty of money laundering in 2017, though till now, it hasn’t been proven if he was behind the femicides and the murder of Ruben Espinosa and Nadia Vera. The investigation still goes on, and the families of the victims are hopeful that one day they will get the justice they deserve.
“In Broad Daylight: The Narvarte Case” is a 2022 Crime Documentary film directed by Alberto Arnaut Estrada.