Director Alberto Arnaut Estrada brings us the important story of the Narvarte Case in his recent documentary film named, “In Broad Daylight: The Narvarte Case.” A true crime story that took place in New Mexico City in a neighborhood that is considered to be safe. This story involves five people who were murdered in broad daylight on July 31st, 2015. The victims included a photojournalist named Ruben. It is because of him that this case is still fresh in people’s minds. Read on to learn more about the victims and what happened on that dreadful day.
Who Were The Victims?
The documentary gives us information about one case that was closed very quickly by the authorities. The case involves many unanswered questions and brings important issues to the table. The brutal crime that took place on July 31st shook the families of the victims. There were five victims: Ruben, Nadia, Yesenia, Mile, and Alejandra.
“In Broad Daylight: The Narvarte Case” gives a voice to their families, who are still looking for answers. We see scenes where the family of Yesenia, who was just 18 years old, shares her selfies. Yesenia’s mother even plays her voice notes. She describes her as a young girl who had dreams. She moved to Mexico to become a model. According to Yesenia’s mother, she had warned her daughter about Mexico City. The place is known for crimes and dangerous cartels. However, she said her daughter was invited there, and she would have gone even if she was not permitted to. Yesenia informed her family that she is living with Mile, who is also a model. However, both of them didn’t know each other for long. Speaking of Mile, she was also described as a girl with big dreams. Not a lot was known about her occupation, but she was Colombian. Her brother, in the documentary, states how stigma works around the people of Colombia. Any crime against Colombians is not taken seriously by the government, and they even pin drugs and prostitution on them. This results in victim-blaming. Mile’s sister says she wants the world to know that, despite what happened, she is proud of her. The family is still waiting for justice, even after six years.
Another victim was a photojournalist, Ruben. Ruben used to work for a magazine in Veracruz before he went to Narvarte. He used to document injustice through his photographs. According to the documentary, he had also sought protection from threats. He was constantly threatened by the authorities while he was in Veracruz. We see one of his friends saying he would normally inform them of his whereabouts. However, he had apparently fled from Veracruz and didn’t know how long he was going to stay in Mexico City. He informed his friend, Patricia, that the situation in Xalapa was deteriorating. He also asked his friend not to inform his mother about his whereabouts and that he had some interviews. We then see clips of Ruben when he goes on TV to tell his side of the story. He says things are very tough for people like him who criticize Javier Duarte’s government. His friend Patricia then explains how Xalapa was not a safe place to be, but Ruben had to flee because he was intimidated. Nobody could imagine the level of mental trauma he went through just because he criticized the government. In 2009, Ruben shifted to Veracruz in search of a job, and he got to shoot the campaign Duarte when he was running for governor. His friends describe him as a person who does not tolerate injustice. Ruben would always make his voice heard, and he was also a rebel. According to his friend, the government hounded him until he had no job or place to be. Ruben became a symbol of justice for his colleagues.
We then see that Duarte tells his side of the story in the documentary. He became the constitutional governor on December 1st, 2010, and according to Ruben’s friend, that is when “hell” began. He also mentioned another government employee, Bermudez Zurita. This official was from the Department of Public Safety of Veracruz. People nicknamed him Captain Storm. He is called arrogant, narcissistic, and authoritative in nature by the people in the documentary. Ruben was a person who did his job well, he had photos and files of missing persons with him, and he would take photos of protests and public unrest. We see clips of Ruben in which he says the people of Veracruz live with injustice, and there is corruption, deceit, and fear. We then see photographs and video footage of protests.
After Ruben’s story, we get to see Nadia’s story. We see clips of her where she says she will hold the state government and his whole cabinet accountable for what could happen to those involved in organized movements. The government, according to “In Broad Daylight: The Narvarte Case,” was beating up people who went against them. State police officers were taking people away for custody, and the number of disappearances rose after Duarte’s term started. It was also the time when the most number of journalists were murdered. Nadia is seen talking about social injustices; she also wore ski masks at protests to hide. There was violence everywhere in the state. The protestors had to wear hoods. Nadia describes how women are forced into sex trafficking, and young men are forced to be members of different cartels. Nadia also had to flee from Veracruz because of safety issues. Nadia and Ruben became friends. The documentary heavily talks about Duarte’s regime.
Who Was Responsible For The Murders?
The police quickly labeled this as a “hate crime” and said it was a party that went wrong. According to the police, three people executed the murders. These three men were identified as Omar, Abraham, and Daniel. One of the criminals knew Mile. Abraham was in love with Mile, and the authorities say there was no forced entry when the murders took place. However, the authorities fail to give clear answers to many doubtful questions and have a narrative of their own. According to the investigation, the three criminals came to Mile’s apartment, where all five victims were present. They did drugs together because a small number of drugs were found in the apartment. They even pin the case on human trafficking and prostitution. According to the experts in the documentary, the stigma around sex workers is the reason why this case was tagged as a “homicide” instead of a “femicide.”
We see three experts dramatizing the whole scenario in “In Broad Daylight: The Narvarte Case.” The crime scene is recreated through props to help the audience understand the situation better. This prop is also used by them to analyze what could have happened and how the crime took place. The authorities, even after six years, fail to answer the families’ questions about the motive. According to the statement of one of the criminals, there was another man called El Duy involved. Later, it was found that the criminals were constantly talking on the phone while committing the crime. They tortured each body differently, and it looked like more than just “a drug party gone wrong.” The authorities tried to fabricate the evidence and failed to be consistent with their findings. Clearly, the authorities have lied to the family and withheld evidence. Some camera footage was also edited in this case. The public had very little information, and a lot of things the police said made no sense. Also, it is said that at least ten people were involved because the criminals’ call logs were traced. One of the numbers was saved as “storm” and another as “office.” The number that was saved as “Storm” called Daniel three times after the murder. The documentary speculates this could be Bermudez Zurita, as he was nicknamed “Captain Storm.” Also, he owns private security companies only ten minutes away from the crime scene. Was he involved in the murders? According to the experts, there are a lot of questions like this that are still unanswered. If it was a drug party, why not catch the cartel? If it was prostitution, why not catch the anonymous company that “invited” Yesenia to Mexico? Was it Mile and Yesenia’s occupation that was a problem? If it was a femicide, there is still no justice served, as the women were blamed for their occupations in this case. There is still no clear motive known for the murders, as the criminals do not speak up against the people who sent them. Alejandra’s family says the news did not give her much coverage as she was a domestic help; however, what was her fault? There are still no answers, and the families of the victims still await justice.
“In Broad Daylight: The Narvarte Case” is a 2022 documentary film directed by Alberto Saúl Arnaut Estrada.