"With unimaginable courage – and despite being a marked woman – she remained defiant to the very end"
How Mexico's fearless female mayor sacrificed herself to save her daughter's life as she was abducted by drug gang, tortured and executed
The woman mayor who was kidnapped and murdered by a Mexican drug gang pleaded with her attackers for her young daughter’s life, it emerged today. Maria Santos Gorrostieta, who had already survived two assassination attempts, was driving the child to school at around 8.30am when she was ambushed by a car in the city of Morelia. The 36-year-old was hauled from her vehicle and physically assaulted as horrified witnesses watched, according to newspaper El Universal. They described how she begged for her child to be left alone and then appeared to get into her abductors’ car willingly. The little girl was left wailing as her mother was driven away on Monday November 12.
Posted by Jill Fallon at November 27, 2012 8:39 PM
For the next week, her frantic family waited by the phone for a ransom call that never came. Gorrostieta’s body – stabbed, burned, battered and bound at wrist and ankle – would finally be found eight days on dumped by a roadside in San Juan Tararameo, Cuitzeo Township. She left behind her daughter and two sons as well as her second husband Nereo Delgado Patinoran.
Hailed as a heroine of the 21st century, her death has prompted much soul-searching in a country ravaged by violence.
The decision to withdraw her security team in November last year – and her police escort in January – has come under particular scrutiny.
Gorrostieta was elected as mayor of Tiquicheo, a rural district in Michoacan, west of Mexico City, in 2008.
Almost immediately, she received threats. The first assassination attempt came in October 2009 when the car she was traveling in with her first husband Jose Sanchez came under fire from gunmen in the town of El Limone. The attack claimed his life but Gorrostieta lived. She battled back from her injuries in the face of overwhelming tragedy, but she was not destined to know peace.
The next attempt on her life was just three months later, when an masked group carrying assault rifles ambushed her on the road between Michoacan and Guerreo state. The van she was traveling in was peppered by 30 bullets. Three hit her. This time her wounds were more severe, leaving multiple scars and forcing her to wear a colostomy bag. She was left in constant pain.
But with unimaginable courage – and despite being a marked woman – she remained defiant to the very end.
In a statement to the public made at the time, the devout Catholic said: 'At another stage in my life, perhaps I would have resigned from what I have, my position, my responsibilities as the leader of my Tiquicheo.
'But today, no. It is not possible for me to surrender when I have three children , whom I have to educate by setting an example, and also because of the memory of the man of my life, the father of my three little ones, the one who was able to teach me the value of things and to fight for them. Although he is no longer with us, he continues to be the light that guides my decisions.'
Mexico has been torn apart by murderous drug gangs since President Felipe Calderon launched his drug offensive in 2006. More than 50,000 people have been killed in clashes between rival drug cartels and security forces and about two dozen mayors have been murdered. The cartels have ruled the streets with fear for years, enforcing their authority with murders, bribery and torture.