Yakiri Rubio Killed Her Rapist in Self-Defense—Now She May Go to Prison
Imagine that you are a 20-year-old woman walking at night to meet your friend or lover. Two men approach you on a motorcycle and say, “Get on, girl; we’ll give you a ride.” You tell them to fuck off, but they force you to get on their bike. Moments later, you have arrived at a hotel. With knifes poking your back, they take you to their room. Once there, they hit you, cut you, and one of them rapes you. When he is about to cut you with his knife again, you take it away from him and slash his throat with it.
You kill him. But hours later, you are the one facing charges for capital murder.
This is what happened on December 9, 2013, to Yakiri Rubí Rubio Aupart, a girl from Mexico City, who was imprisoned until recently at the Tepepan Female Center for Social Readaptation, located south of the city. She spent two months there on charges of “qualified murder.”
This week, Yakiri Rubio will be freed. On Monday, at the Court of Supreme Justice in Mexico City, her charges were changed from qualified murder to excess of legitimate defense. She will be released on bail.
But Yakiri still faces legal trouble—she will now be tried for “excess of legitimate defense.” If found guilty, she could face up to 10 years in prison.
The war in South Sudan began in murky circumstances in mid-December, when tribal factions within the country’s army, the SPLA, began fighting each other in the center of the capital, Juba. The SPLA quickly fractured into two camps: an insurgency drawn from members of former vice president Riek Machar’s Nuer tribe and troops who remained loyal to President Salva Kiir, of the Dinka tribe. Both sides have been accused of committing gross human rights abuses during the conflict. VICE News arrived in Juba and found the army desperate to dispel rumors that rebels were advancing on the capital. Soldiers were keen to take our correspondents on a trip with them into the bush to recapture the strategic city of Bor from the rebels… only the raid didn’t turn out quite as they had expected.
Last December, a woman from the Syrian community in Toronto reached out to me for help after a Syrian opposition Facebook page, for which she was an administrator, was expunged from the internet. She told me that Facebook had deleted the page, called Likes for Syria, in mid December, by which time it had garnered more than 80,000 “likes.” Several Syrian Canadians had organized the page shortly after the revolution in Syria began, back in 2011, and used it as a tool for posting news stories about the crisis, spreading messages of hope, and creating awareness in the Western world—something that many feel is desperately needed.
“We feel like our freedom of speech has been totally taken away,” said Faris Alshawaf, another administrator for Likes for Syria. “We have a right to talk about what is happening.” Facebook had removed the page once before but quickly republished it after administrators made an appeal. Just days later, Facebook deleted the page a second time.
Exactly a year ago today, February 24, 2013, in “Tierra Caliente,” Michoacán, a group of farmers and businessmen in two communities organized themselves to take up arms against the Knights Templar drug cartel. Tired of the absence of the rule of law, the lack of governability, and persistent corruption, they took matters into their hands and formed what they called “autodefensa” militias in towns of Tepalcatepec and La Ruana. In January, we returned to meet the militia leaders, to find out what is happening today in the region known as the Hot Land.
The goal of the self-defense movement was to do away with the extreme violence that gripped “Tierra Caliente.” The Knights Templar not only had control of the production of marijuana and methamphetamine in Michoacán, they also diversified to such a point that the local communities had to pay them extortion “taxes.” Kidnappings, assaults, and homicides became commonplace.
The Knights Templar calls itself a “brotherhood” with its own statutes and codes. Its members use military-style uniforms modeled on the Middle Ages, and even its founding “spiritual” leader, Nazario Moreno, is venerated as a saint.
Little by little, the self-defense groups have expanded into places where the Templarios are strong. In each community they enter, they build barricades and set up checkpoints at every access point. They guard towns around the clock, armed with AK-47s, AR-15s, and other weapons that they claim were decommissioned from the Knights’ forces. However, some authorities have suggested that the self-defense groups are being armed by one of the Knights Templar’s rival cartels, Jalisco Nueva Generación. The “autodefensa” groups deny the claims.
A year after the self-defense uprising, the conflict continues. Negotiations with the government have led the militias to be folded into a little-known body within the government called the Rural Defense Forces. Yet, the principal leaders of the Knights Templar remain at large and uncertainty reigns over the Hot Land. The leadership of the self-defense militias has seen splits and ruptures, increasing the tension.
Are Cuban Special Forces Shooting at Venezuelan Protesters?
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Eduardo Barreto isn’t sure if the armed guards that have been shooting at him were even Venezuelan.
Since joining his country’s protests earlier this month, the 20-year-old economics student from Valencia has been tear-gassed and chased by officers on motorcycles. He has watched his friends get shot in the back as they fled, and he was marching on the same street where student and beauty queen Génesis Carmona was killed last week.
He has little love for the National Guard, which the government has unleashed on protesters, but if he’s going to get shot, he’d like it at least to be done by a countryman.
“We know there are Cuban officers within our National Guard,” said Barreto, repeating widespread but unconfirmed reports that president Nicolás Maduro’s government might have tapped its island neighbor for help in protecting its Bolivarian revolution. “Can you imagine Russian officers joining the US National Guard to shoot at American citizens there? That’s unacceptable.”
Barreto says he has no doubt that at least some of the officers he has come across are Cuban. Early on in the protests—before guards started shooting at him—he brought them water bottles to cool off while they watched over demonstrators.
“They were in the streets standing in the sun all day, and I wanted to be friendly,” Barreto said. “One of them, when he thanked me, had a Cuban accent. I know a Cuban accent; I have uncles there.”
Hotels in Kiev Are Being Used as Makeshift Morgues As the Death Toll Rises
Last night, protesters and police made an uneasy truce in Kiev, but this morning the ceasefire was well and truly broken as blood was shed once more in the streets of the Ukrainian capital. The death toll keeps rising. The Kyiv Post is reporting that at least 37 people have been killed—mainly from police gunshots. Yesterday, the country’s Lviv region declared independence from the central government after protesters seized the prosecutor’s office and the police surrendered.
President Yanukovych is today meeting with EU foreign ministers, and the EU will discuss the possibility of imposing sanctions. Yet it looks like Russia will prop up the Ukrainian economy by buying £1.2 billion in government bonds. Obama didn’t think much of this, attacking Putin for Russia’s role in the crisis and claiming to be “on the side of the people.”
VICE UK’s news editor, Henry Langston, is on the streets of Kiev. He called us this morning to give us an update on the situation.
VICE: Hi, Henry. Things sound pretty horrible out there. What can you tell me? Henry: I’ve already seen several bodies, which have definitely been hit by gunshots. One guy was wearing a Kevlar vest but without the armour plate; there was a huge hole in it with blood surrounding it. They draped the bodies in a Ukrainian flag. They were young men, possibly in their mid 20s. Earlier, some protesters were shot when they were charging towards some police vans.
Can you tell me how the truce broke down? I thought Yanukovych and the opposition leaders were trying to bring some stability to the situation. At about 8 AM, the protesters re-took the parts of Independence Square that police had withdrawn from as part of the truce. In retaliation to that, the police opened fire. I have been shown rounds from handguns. There are lots of worried people; these people cannot fight against AK-47s. They have shields and clubs. We haven’t seen any guns on the protesting side. That said, there are reports that outside of Kiev a large number of weapons were seized by protesters who stormed government buildings.
Kiev’s Euromaidan protesters began 2014 the same way they ended 2013: by rioting in the streets in an attempt to bring down their government. Key victories have already been won, with Prime Minister Mykola Azarov and his cabinet resigning. The demonstrators also forced the annulment of a new anti-protest law that was, ironically, the cause of much of their protesting.
The protesters haven’t been contented by this. They are still out in the streets, demanding the head of President Viktor Yanukovych and the staging of fresh elections. What began as a protest against the Ukrainian government’s close ties with Russian leader Vladimir Putin has become a focus for wider discontent. However, Yanukovych seems in no mood to relinquish his power. As the social unrest spreads across the country, its first post-Soviet President, Leonid Kravchuk, has gone as far as to warn that Ukraine is on the brink of civil war. Dozens of people have lost their lives in just the last two days of violence.
At the end of January, VICE flew to Kiev as rioters hurled Molotov cocktails at police and the city turned into a battlefield.
The Ukraine Uprising Had Its Bloodiest Day Yet Yesterday
Kiev was burning again on Tuesday. After a period of calm, yesterday’s violence was the deadliest since Ukraine’s “Euromaidan” protests began in November.
The number of deaths rose throughout the day, as more and more corpses were found in the streets of Kiev. By Wednesday morning, at least 25 people had lost their lives, including nine police officers. Reports about the number of injured vary but start at over 200. A Ukrainian doctor on the scene said that the real number could run “into the thousands,” and the tolls of those both killed and wounded are only likely to rise. A stream of photos on social media showed people, many of them apparently unconscious, with their faces covered in blood.
Yesterday’s crackdown was a brutal riposte to anyone who thought the situation in Ukraine would be settled any time soon—a position that didn’t seem too fanciful as recently as a few days ago. On Sunday, police and protesters started to pull back from their standoff on Kiev’s Hrushevskoho Street, the site of the worst clashes in January. The place was an absolute mess: a sea of soot, tires, and burned-out vehicles, studded with Ukrainian and foreign flags.
Moises Saman’s Stunning Photos of Humanity in Conflict Zones
Peruvian photographer Moises Saman has spent the past few years living and working in Cairo and documenting the effects of the Egyptian revolution on the city’s residents—though he might argue that “documenting” is the wrong word. His work willfully avoids a chronological, ordered, historical view of the uprising, instead focusing on capturing humanity and the emotions of the participants. We spoke to him about how he maintains faith in humanity after working in war zones for years and the irrelevance of “objectivity” in relation to his work.
VICE: I heard that it was images of the Balkan conflict that initially made you interested in photography. Is that right? Moises Saman: Yeah, that was the first time I had any interest in photojournalism. Seeing that work in the mid- and late 1990s was an inspiration.
That seems odd, even by the standards of war reportage—the Balkans conflict always seemed to me a brutal and especially grim war. What was it that hooked you? I don’t know if it was necessarily anything particular about the photos, though amazing work was done there. I think it was more to do with that specific period in my life. It was a time when everything clicked in my head—when I started paying attention to the news and the world. Covering that war day in, day out was the moment that I “dialed in,” if you know what I mean. I became interested in the world beyond my personal bubble.
Cairo, Egypt. May 2, 2012. Anti-military protesters beat a man they allege was a pro-military thug during clashes near Abbaseya Square in central Cairo.
You went to the Balkans at the end of the conflict there—how did that trip effect your newfound awareness of the world? I went in 1999, in the summer. I was totally unprepared and it was a badly thought-out trip. My good friend who was meant to be with me pulled out, so I went alone. I maxed out my credit card and didn’t sell one picture from the trip. I had tried to read up on the situation, but once I was actually there, I realized I didn’t know what I was doing at all.
I needed to do it, though. I think good things came of it, and my experiences there matured me a bit. I went there, and I made mistakes, but thank God I came home in one piece. If anything, it reassured me that I wanted to continue exploring photojournalism.
A lot of your work tends to be done in war zones. How do you feel about the tag of “war photographer”—is it a label you resent? I don’t know if “resent” is the right word. But I don’t like it. I think it’s full of connotations that don’t really represent what I’m about as a photographer. It’s true that I tend to work in a lot of conflict zones. Somehow I hope my work is not just seen as something that is only related to conflict—people killing people and so on. Within the context of violence and repression, I try to find some moments that transcend that.
Sometimes it doesn’t work, of course, but it’s what I aim for. I look for moments that we can all relate to. It’s not just about showing events and images that eventually we all will become numb to—pictures of dead people or violence. So “war photographer” is a term I shy away from.
Russia Probably Won’t Promote the Genocide That Took Place in Sochi
The Sochi Olympics have some problems. There are the merely irritating ones: unfinished hotel rooms, undrinkable tap water, wonky bathrooms, an alarming shortage of pillows. There are competitive concerns, like a slopestyle course that’s allegedly causing injuries to snowboarders. And there are the globally alarming issues, like the destruction of the environment, oppressive government policies, and the very real threat of a terrorist attack.
But often left off the list of problems with Sochi is the oldest one: the role the city played 150 years ago in what many call Europe’s first-ever genocide. In the middle of the 19th century, conquering Russian armies in the North Caucusus systematically massacred and then drove the region’s ethnic Circassians toward the coast, where they were finally defeated—at Sochi. The Russians then forced Circassians to either board ships bound for Turkey or be exiled to Siberia. In the process, countless people died of starvation and disease.
Today, there are about 8 million Circassians in the world, most of whom live in the Middle East. And they’re not very happy about the Sochi Olympics.
“We want people to know who Circassians are, what happened to us, and to tell people that we will not be erased from history,” said Tamara Barsik, founder and director of No Sochi, a Circassian umbrella group that has staged protests and attempted to raise public awareness of the massacre since the Olympics were awarded to Sochi in 2007.