Mexico: Salvadoran woman who died in police custody had sought help for abuse

MEXICO CITY – A Salvadoran woman who died in police custody at a Caribbean beach resort over the weekend was also mistreated by her arrested companion, Mexican authorities said Tuesday.

Quintana Roo Governor Carlos Joaquin did not state whether the abuse Victoria Esperanza Salazar allegedly suffered was sexual or physical.

He said one of the woman’s two daughters was also ill-treated and the man was arrested as part of the state government’s efforts to ensure justice for Salazar.

The Salvadoran President Nayib Bukele wrote on his Twitter account that the arrested Mexican had sexually abused the daughter.

“Victoria filed a complaint weeks ago and took her daughter to a shelter to keep her safe,” wrote Bukele. “Unfortunately nothing has been done so far as Victoria was murdered. So far they are not pursuing the case.”

Salazar died Saturday after a policewoman kneeled on her on a street in the resort of Tulum. According to official information, four officers are being examined. An autopsy revealed that the woman’s neck was broken.

Joaquin admitted that Salazar’s death “did great damage to Quintana Roo’s image,” but the state’s troubles did not end there.

Prosecutors said a foreign woman was wounded in a shooting in Tulum on Tuesday. Prosecutors did not disclose the woman’s nationality but said she had been treated and discharged from a local hospital. It was said that a suspect had been arrested.

In another incident of violence, the governor said that the murder of a woman over the weekend in the resort of Holbox on the north coast of the state “was for a sentimental or passionate motive” and that a suspect in the case was also arrested.

Tulum’s reputation as a laid-back, low-key beach resort unlike Cancun has been marred recently by land disputes, gang activity, and increased development.

The four police officers – three men and one woman – arrested when Salazar died were due to appear in court on Tuesday, but prosecutors said the defense had requested an extension until Saturday. All four remain in custody.

Quintana Roo prosecutor Oscar Montes de Oca said an autopsy confirmed that Salazar’s broken neck “coincided with the maneuvers used on the victim while in custody” and demonstrated a “disproportionate” use of force by the police .

The scenes commemorated the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis in 2020. Floyd was pronounced dead after a white police officer pressed his knee to the black man’s neck for about nine minutes and held his position even after Floyd limped.

Manuel Barradas, owner of a small grocery store in Tulum, said Salazar appeared “absent” to him. When she approached his shop, he barred her entry. The police arrested her a short time later.

Authorities did not mention that Salazar was under the influence of anything when discussing the autopsy.

Salazar’s death heightened tension in Quintana Roo, where police held live ammunition to fend off around 100 demonstrators in Cancun in November.

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