It’s been three months since the May 9 murder of Malcolm Latif Shabazz in the capital city of Mexico, and there remains no resolution for the Shabazz family about the crime, notes Wilner Metelus, president of the Citizens Committee for the Defense of the Naturalized and of Afro-Mexicans (CCDNAM).
Metelus’ CCDNAM, a group designed to fight for the rights of Afro-Mexicans and for those Blacks or Africans who reside in Mexico or even pass through the country, has been Mexico’s most vocal organization in demanding justice for Shabazz in the days and now months following his murder.
Shabazz, the grandson of human rights activist Malcolm X, was killed after getting into an argument over an exorbitant $1,200 bar bill at the Palace Club in Mexico City’s touristy Plaza Garibaldi area. Within a week of the murder, bar waiters David Hernández Cruz and Manuel Alejandro Pérez de Jesús were charged with having punched, kicked and even using a stick to beat Latif Shabazz during the attack. But there has been little progress on the case since then.
The city’s district attorney noted that security cameras at the Palace Club had been moved to suggest that they had not recorded the incident, but many believe that the entire incident can be found on the camera’s tapes.
“It’s shameful that after three months, there is no punishment of those responsible for this crime. Those who assassinated our brother Malcolm Latif remain free from justice, with the complicity of the authorities,” the CCDNAM said in a press release issued Aug. 10. “We are not just upset but also outraged that the district attorney has not commanded the Ministry of Public Security to show the video which explains how our Brother Malcolm Latif died.
“We make a new call on the authorities of the federal district’s Commission of Human Rights that they look into the aggression that laborers who were in solidarity with Malcolm Latif have been facing. The Commission must demonstrate that it is defending the interests of its citizens.
“The only thing we ask is that the authorities provide justice for the family of Malcolm Latif,” the press release stated.
In an exclusive interview, Metelus explained that the CCDNAM was formed in 2005, after the then-president of Mexico, Vicente Fox Quesada, told a group of U.S. businessmen visiting his nation, “There is no doubt that Mexicans, filled with dignity, willingness and ability to work, are doing jobs that not even Blacks want to do there in the United States.” The comment was seen as insulting to both African-Americans and Mexicans living here. In the U.S., African-Americans demanded an apology, while in Mexico, Metelus says his group decided to organize.
On top of denouncing Fox’s statement, the group began to establish itself as an organization willing to speak out about injustices against Afro-Mexicans. “You know, for example, that Mexico is a multicultural nation,” Metelus says. “Yet, still, Afro-Mexicans are little recognized by the government: They say that all Mexicans are equal, but in realty, this is not the case. There are, for example, social programs that Afro-Mexicans cannot participate in.”
Metelus added: “Mexico is one of few countries that does not officially recognize it’s Afro-descendant citizens. And, also, since Mexico is a transit site for people who are on their way to the United States, we constantly have to pressure the authorities to respect Afro-Mexicans and Black people who are in Mexico.”
The CCDNAM was on the verge of commemorating the murder of another Black man in Mexico when it got word of the death of Shabazz. This year’s remembrances for Isaac Chinedu Nwachukwu wound up converging with protests over the murder of Shabazz.
Nwachukwu was a 29-year-old Nigerian who sold jewelry at various markets in Mexico City. He had made Mexico his home after having reportedly been sold into slavery in Sierra Leone as a child. After a non-governmental agency helped free him, Chinedu boarded a ship that left him in Veracruz, Mexico. The young man made his way to Mexico City but had problems there as well. In 2004, Chinedu brought suit against police authorities who beat him after he got into a verbal argument with the driver of a public bus, and then on April 12, 2007, authorities accused Chinedu of being a drug trafficker—charges that he fought and which were only dropped as of May 20, 2009.
Even with all of these problems, Chinedu had still fallen in love and married while living in Mexico. Together with Liduvina Castillo, Chinedu had a baby daughter. On May 11, 2011, Mother’s Day, Chinedu left a restaurant with his wife and their daughter. As he tried to hail a taxi, members of the auxiliary police accosted him, started an argument and began beating him. The officers who beat Chinedu were initially arrested, but ultimately authorities determined that Chinedu’s death occurred after a vehicle hit him following the beating. In protest, the CCDNAM sponsored a 12-day hunger strike alongside Chinedu’s wife in June 2011. Two of the police officers that beat Chinedu were brought up on charges, and each had to pay a $210 fine.
Metelus says there remains a lot of suspicion about a cover-up of the murder of Shabazz. “May 10 is Mother’s Day in Mexico, and where Malcolm Latif died is a place where all families come out to celebrate. But no one seems to have seen anything and cameras that were in the area, none of them recorded anything. The bar where he was killed, it did not even have the right licensing to be in operation. But this is, sometimes, how things function in this country. So we’re still looking for answers, definitive answers, about what happened to Malcolm Latif that night.”
Meanwhile in the United States, a number of organizations are planning a protest on Friday, Aug. 16 at 10:30 a.m. calling for justice in the death of Shabazz. The protest will be in front of the Mexican Embassy at 1911 Pennsylvania Ave., N.W. in Washington, D.C. Those participating include Razakhan Shaheed of the Philadelphia Innocence Project; Rozlyn Ratliff Cross of the Malcolm Shabazz Memorial Facebook Page Coalition and Judicial Justice Movement; Pam Africa of the International Concerned Family and Friends of Mumia Abu-Jamal; Basiymah Muhammad, fourth assistant president general of the World Body of the United Negro Improvement Association; Philadelphia President General of UNIA Mshindi Ziaga; Empress Chionesu Phile of the Million Woman Movement; Archbishop John Lewis III of the African Orthodox Church; and Dr. Randy Short of the Black Autonomy Network Organization.
Those interested in further information can contact Dr. Randy Short at 202-710-4294 or Razakhan Shaheed 267-226-8474.