Morelia: informality characterizes bombing investigation

I’ve always felt, during my time here in Mexico that because I was a foreigner there was always a fog hanging over the world of politics and public life. That maybe there are subtleties that I just don’t get because Spanish isn’t my first language.
But what I’ve found this week is that the fog is there for everyone – Mexican or not. Not many people have much of a clue of what’s going on in this country, and are reduced to speculating or drawing up their own hypothesis based on their own, limited, personal experiences to provide answers.
The possible culprits over dinner or drinks over the last week have ranged from the obvious to the ridiculous, and included President Calderon and his party the PAN, various factions of drug cartels, and the PRI – looking to destabilize an already fragile democracy.
Meanwhile, while speculation runs wild, the theatre that is Mexican public life goes on.
The head of public security in Michoacan – Mario Bautista Ramírez – said that Morelia’s police arrested and then let go three suspects on the night of bombing. And ten police officers who were meant to be patrolling the investigations in plain clothes apparently never turned up for work.
Before the weekend, authorities cleared a different three men who had been arrested in connection with the bombing in the northern state of Zacatecas. La Familia in Morelia – a drug gang based in the state of Michoacan – were the most obvious suspects following last week’s attacks but managed to get past security and put up signs across the city denying responsibility for the explosions. Instead, they passed the blame onto the Zetas – a paramilitary gang that’s the hired muscle of the Mexican Gulf Cartel.
The most important thing that occurred to me as I’ve perused other media’s coverage, my own, and the scene itself, is how frighteningly informal the attitude of the authorities is to the crime scene itself.
When we arrived on Wednesday, the main plaza – as you can see from my stills – was uncovered. Officials in white boiler suits were walking all over it, taking pictures. There have also been reports that officials were seen pouring water over their hands to wash themselves in the plaza – and letting the water spill over the floor of what is a crime scene.
Remember I mentioned the corner of the streets Madero and Guzman, where the second grenade went off? That I recalled seeing a pool of dried blood with a lock of hair in it – how will they know where that lock of hair come from now that the crime scene has been open to the elements all week? Did it fall into the blood during the explosion? Did is blow in after the event? Does it a belong to a victim, the perpetrator, or an innocent bystander? Does it mean ANYTHING?
I know nothing about forensics or the science of a crime scene, but I’ve seen enough American police dramas to know that the first thing one does in a crime scene is cover it up to protect it from the elements and to stop any alterations of where things dropped and where and how. On the corner of Madero and Guzman the only measures that seem to have been taken to protect the crime scene was plastic police tape, which marked delineated a limit around where the grenade had gone off. That and an armed soldier, standing guard.
It was all just so informal – how can the authorities be serious about tackling crime when they don’t even seem to know how to treat a crime scene? And a serious one at that. It doesn’t look like they are going to be the ones to discover the answer to the question on everyone’s lips: who threw those grenades? And is it going to happen again?
Image: Officials inspect the central plaza in Morelia, Mexico on Wednesday of last week. The Monday before, seven people were killed and more than a hundred injured by two bombs that went off during the city’s independence day celebrations. An eighth person – a 13-year-old boy – died of injuries sustained by the bombings over the weekend. Deborah Bonello /