In a shocking turn of events, Jesús Ociel Baena Saucedo, the first openly non-binary electoral magistrate in Latin America, was found dead this morning in Aguascalientes, Mexico. Baena’s body was discovered around 9 am at his residence alongside that of his partner, both with stab wounds, according to preliminary reports.
The tragic killing has sent waves of grief and outrage across Mexico’s LBGTQ+ community and human rights advocates worldwide.
Background on Ociel Baena
Hailing originally from Saltillo in Coahuila, the distinguished lawyer Ociel Baena made history on October 1st, 2022, when he was sworn in as Mexico’s inaugural non-binary electoral magistrate. Baena’s impressive academic credentials included a law degree from the Autonomous University of Coahuila, a master’s in constitutional law and government policy, and he was currently pursuing a doctorate in law.
Since his high school days, Baena had been actively engaged in political and electoral matters. He took on important roles in the national electoral institute INE, serving as a district executive in Aguascalientes and Guanajuato. In October, after filing a lawsuit arguing discrimination against LGBTQ+ individuals in magistrate appointments, he assumed a temporary magistrate position in Aguascalientes’ State Electoral Tribunal.
Moreover, Baena made headlines by becoming the first Mexican to issue a non-binary gender passport, a landmark event for the country. As a vocal advocate for LGBTQ+ rights, he pioneered initiatives to improve protections for trans children, same-sex marriage, and gender identity recognition.
Discovery of Bodies
This morning, Baena’s bodyguard arrived at his Punta Del Cielo subdivision home in Aguascalientes City after receiving no response to his knocks. Entering the residence, he discovered the magistrate’s body, along with that of an unnamed partner, both lifeless and with stab wounds, according to unofficial reports.
State prosecutor’s office forensic services arrived on scene around 9 am, cordoning off the area. While authorities have released few details, the brutal murder appears premeditated, given Baena’s security detail and identity as a trailblazing public figure.
Confirmation by Federal Authorities
The shocking homicide was acknowledged at President Andrés Manuel López Obrador’s daily press briefing by Secretary of Security and Citizen Protection Rosa Icela Rodríguez. However, she declined further comment, stating investigations were underway and the circumstances remained unclear.
“We do not yet know, according to the authorities’ report, what this is about, whether it is a homicide or if it was an accident,” noted Sec. Rodríguez when questioned about the incident. She emphasized the need for state authorities to determine the facts before speculating.
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Context of Violence Against LGBTQ+ Community
While the motive behind Baena’s murder is still unconfirmed, Mexico faces ongoing issues with discrimination and violence targeting LGBTQ+ individuals. According to Letra Ese, a digital news site focused on sexuality and gender, murders of LGBTQ+ persons increased by nearly a third from 2020 to 2021.
Human rights organizations have criticized inadequate government efforts to prevent and prosecute these crimes. Impunity remains widespread, with over 90% of LGBTQ+ murders going unsolved. Baena himself was a vocal proponent of stronger legal protections for the community. His shocking death in a presumed targeted attack will likely galvanize further activism around the issue.
Reactions from Activists and Allies
Mexico’s LGBTQ+ community and human rights advocates worldwide have expressed outrage and grief over the killing of the young trailblazing magistrate. Many have taken to social media to demand a full investigation and justice for Baena, as well as enhanced security for LGBTQ+ individuals facing threats.
Prominent activists emphasized Baena’s pivotal role as a defender of LGBTQ+ rights in Mexico’s halls of power. His murder has robbed the community of an important leader, but his legacy will live on as an inspiration, according to supporters.
Allies across Mexico’s political spectrum condemned the crime, with many officials calling for the authorities to categorize it as a hate crime and deploy maximum resources to find the perpetrators.
What Comes Next
As Mexico reels from the murder of Jesús Ociel Baena, the coming days and weeks will be pivotal in determining whether justice is served in this case. With federal authorities now involved in the investigation, the state must undertake a swift, thorough investigation and prosecution.
Moreover, there are calls for Baena’s death to prompt the enactment of stronger anti-discrimination laws long demanded by LGBTQ+ advocates. While tragic, the passing of this young pioneer could help galvanize the movement he championed and cement his legacy as a champion of equal rights.
The road ahead will not be easy, but Jesús Ociel Baena’s courageous example can help guide the way forward towards a more just and tolerant society. Mexico must honor his memory by stepping up protections for its LGBTQ+ community and prosecuting his killers to the full extent of the law.