Travel to Mexican resorts used to mean sun and frolic. But many people have been reconsidering their travel plans to Mexico as violence in the country rises, even at idyllic beach paradises. Despite Mexico’s claim that tourists at resorts are the safest people in Mexico, visitors are getting increasingly wary of the destination.
Two weeks ago, a woman was discovered brutally beaten in an elevator at the glittery Hotel Riu Emerald Bay in Mazatlan. The woman, Sheila Nabb, had severe injuries, particularly to her face, where every bone was broken. Nabb will require significant reconstructive surgery. After receiving immediate medical treatment in Mexico, she was flown back to Calgary where she lives a week after the attack, where she will undergo her remaining and significant treatment. This high-profile case has sent shock waves through the tourist community. Last Saturday, mere days after Nabb’s attack, Mexican authorities announced that they had found the perpetrator and extracted a confession.
Jose Ramon Acosta Quintero, 28, claims he was drinking and doing drugs with an unidentified Canadian friend and his mother before sneaking in to the relatively security-free beach side of the Riu and walking on to the elevator. His victim, he claims, soon boarded the elevator — completely naked. He struck up a conversation with her, he claims, but then would not let her leave when she wished to. She protested, and the situation rapidly deteriorated until, Quintero claims, he inflicted the severe beating on Nabb before fleeing the premises.
Which all sounds rather…. packaged up in a neat little bow, doesn’t it? A week after the incident, they have not only identified a suspect, but have extracted a confession and have him parading around the media circuit?
You’ll forgive me for feeling rather skeptical. Mexico’s Napoleonic justice system is well known for being practically medieval. Suspects have little ability to assert any rights. There are no jury trials and no arguments. Arrest usually means conviction, and with a notoriously corrupt and easily bribed police force, it’s quite likely that people languishing in Mexican prisons are more guilty of crossing a police officer’s path on the wrong day than they are of any particular crime.
So to roll out this suspect so quickly, so publicly, isn’t giving anyone any sense that justice has been done or that tourism in Mexico is safer. It’s simply giving everyone an uncomfortable feeling that they’re watching a man get railroaded for a crime he didn’t commit.
Today, the suspect claimed that he signed the confession under torture and that the police wrote in many of the details in the document he signed — details, he said, that were untrue. And not a single soul was surprised.
Sheila Nabb remains in the hospital, her family silent, wisely concentrating on her recovery instead of the increasing spectacle of the Mexican police investigation. Hopefully, as she recovers, she will be able to shed more light on what happened to her that night.
Photo Credit: Family Handout