«El lado oscuro de la Feria del Caballo en Texcoco: Abuso sexual, balaceras, crimen organizado y maltrato animal»

This Sunday marks the end of the Feria del Caballo in Texcoco, State of Mexico, amid scandal that surrounded its most recent edition. Denunciations of sexual abuse, theft, aggression, intimidation, animal mistreatment, and threats were made during the fair’s run, which began on March 24th and occurs every year during Holy Week. The fair began on June 13th, 1945, as the «Feria Regional de San Antonio,» changing locations several times until it was renamed the «Feria del Caballo» in 1975. Activities typically include equestrian shows featuring various horse breeds, cattle exhibitions, bullfights, performances by artists in the palenques, boxing, wrestling, casinos, and more. Previous editions have also been fraught with controversy, including involvement with organized crime and adulterated drinks.

Sexual abuse: activists report assault and threats
On April 4th, two activists from the civil association Seres Libres reported that one of them was sexually abused at the Feria del Caballo in Texcoco. They recounted that on Sunday, April 2nd, they were happy because they celebrated the third anniversary of their association. When the celebrations ended, one of the godmothers of the animal shelter suggested going to the fair, and they decided to have some fun. During the night, one of them began to feel ill, and they decided to ask for help because they knew the environment was complicated inside the fair. They called César Lagunas Pérez, a Veterinary Zootechnician who worked at the Feria del Caballo in Texcoco, and whom they had known for almost three years since he was also the veterinarian they trusted for their association. César Lagunas Pérez offered his office for his companion to lay down while she felt better, and they thanked him for the support, staying together but having to leave for a few minutes to say goodbye to their companions. When they returned, they found the veterinarian sexually abusing her companion. They immediately called for help from the head of the Veterinary Area of the Fair, Ericka, but she responded that it was their fault and called security personnel from the event. «When the police arrived, non-officials choked us until we lost our breath, separated us, dragged us, and beat us. We have burns and bruises all over our bodies, in addition to the sexual violence,» the activists accused. Additionally, the security personnel took their cell phone so that they had no evidence of the aggression. They were violently removed from the place and left in a garbage dump next to the fair. On April 5th, they decided to meet with Jorge Luis Cortés Soto, President of the Fair’s Patronage, but unfortunately, he revictimized and threatened them. «He called us whores and told us that we deserved what happened to us and that he would take revenge on us for staining his fair,» the activists said. So they decided to file a complaint with the General Justice Attorney’s Office for sexual abuse, physical assault, theft of belongings, kidnapping, and oppression. They also published, «today we fear for our lives, and we hold the International Horse Fair Patronage responsible. If anything happens to us, we were threatened that they are heavy people and they will retaliate against us if we raise our voices.» They were also threatened with harming the animals they care for, and for their life’s sake, they decided to speak up. For the moment, the authorities have not spoken out.

Theft and insecurity: staff of Ximena Sariñana beaten
Days before, on March 27th, singer Ximena Sariñana had a presentation at the Feria’s Teatro del Pueblo and reported on social networks that two minutes after she left, some men locked up her musicians and team in a dressing room, «while in the other one, they attacked and beat my production manager until he was completely bloodied.» «It fills us with rage and helplessness that our safety could not be guaranteed in a public and family event by the people who hire us and organize these events,» Ximena Sariñana added in her post. The singer’s manager lost the vision in his right eye due to the beatings. In response to the controversy, the President of the Fair’s Patronage promised to take the necessary measures to find those responsible. Unfortunately, the Safe Crew MX collective announced that Luis Miguel Melche, the interpreter of «Las huellas» manager, will lose his right eye due to the beatings. They also requested that those responsible be found, emphasizing that more than two weeks later, they know nothing about the investigation. And it is not the only case; Internet users have reported an increase in theft of cell phones and other objects, even by alleged police officers. Some call on authorities to cancel the event due to the wave of insecurity.

Organized crime: murders, flyers
In 2018, a shootout occurred in the fair’s parking lot, leaving one person dead, one woman injured, one municipal police officer injured, and 16 detained, local Public Security reported. In 2017, helicopter crew members allegedly dropped flyers from criminal groups at the Feria del Caballo in Texcoco, State of Mexico. In 2015, the Unión Edomex site states that one of the most wanted criminals by the State of Mexico’s General Justice Attorney’s Office was Francisco Javier Resillas Ríos, also known as «El Víbora,» seen at the event. A month later, he was captured by Navy elements in Acapulco. In 2012, the Unión Edomex website also points out that the fair had one of its worst waves of violence and insecurity when between March 18th and 22nd, three bodies were abandoned at the entrance with a cardboard signed by «La Familia Michoacana.» In addition, on March 21st, a command of six hooded subjects robbed the ticket office, the Palenque, and the administrative offices of the place.

Animal mistreatment
A Twitter user shared that one of the fair’s children’s attractions is a carousel with real ponies, which are forced to work without rest, exposed to the elements without regard for high or low temperatures, and are poorly fed and in a deplorable situation. The internet user posted the image with the message «this is animal abuse and mistreatment. If you want your kids to have fun, take them somewhere else, not on animals.» The fair allows cockfighting, a sport considered bloody in which animals are placed in a ring and forced to fight to the death for the «amusement» of the spectators. Breeders often pluck feathers and mutilate the crests and beards of the roosters (the flesh on their heads and under their beaks) with scissors to prevent other roosters from pulling them out inside the ring. In addition to animal cruelty, cockfights are often associated with other crimes, such as illegal gambling, drug sales or use, and even murder. At least eight cases of bird flu have been linked to cockfights, according to PETA Latino. Bullfights are an unnecessary massacre; more than 40,000 bulls are brutally slaughtered each year in bullfighting arenas worldwide. From the moment they enter the arena, they lose all chance. They can be weakened by blows with sandbags or laxatives, or drugged, or have their horns shaved to hinder their movement. Vaseline is applied to their eyes so that they cannot see at a distance. The animal enters the arena, and picadors (men on horseback with blindfolds who shoot spears into the muscles of the bull’s back and neck) approach it. This makes it difficult for the bull to raise its head and defend itself. The spears…

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