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Óscar Loza Ochoa, a member of the Human Rights Defense Committee, says that these monuments express the pain of society. (Photo: Luis Cortés / EL UNIVERSAL)

Culiacán: the city of the crosses

21/02/2016
11:45
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Culiacán is the second most violent city in Mexico after Acapulco and is ranked 17th worldwide.

By Silber Meza

Crosses of metal, wood or quarry can be found in many streets and sidewalks of CuliacánThe over 2,800 cenotaphs have become an urban memorial of the victims of violence in the seat of the Sinaloa cartel.

A cenotaph is a sepulchral monument erected in memory of a deceased person at the site where he/she lost life, but whose body is buried elsewhere. The number of homicides in the city increased after the split of the Sinaloa cartel in 2008, when Joaquín “El Chapo” Guzmán and Ismael Zambada clashed with the Beltrán Leyva brothers.

The monuments are decorated with photos, prayers, balloons, flowers and small chapels, some of them with electric lighting.

Óscar Loza Ochoa, a member of the Human Rights Defense Committee, says that these monuments express the pain of society.

In one of the cenotaphs a banner reads: "We may not see you or talk to you, but we will never stop missing you."

Culiacán is the second most violent city in Mexico after Acapulco and is ranked 17th worldwide, according to a study conducted in 2015 by the Citizen Council for Public Safety and Criminal Justice, even though the crime rate has dropped in the capital city of Sinaloa from 646 in 2011 to 411 in 2015.

Tomás Guevara Martínez, coordinator of the Laboratory of Psychosocial Studies on Violence of the School of Psychology at the Autonomous University of Sinaloa, says that cenotaphs are a "silent witness" to Culiacán's reality.

Now the local government is planning to replace the cenotaphs with more discrete marble plates. The program started in 2013, when Aarón Rivas, former mayor of Culiacán and now candidate to local legislator, said that the government wanted to give an image of a peaceful society: "so that people who visit us from outside do not see them."

Ramón Osuna, head of the Department of Cemeteries, says that the task was cut short: "Many people authorized the replacement, but others threatened us, so we stopped the program."

 

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