Just when things looked like they were wrapping up with the second lawsuit (see Demanda 2 and the Visit from Desorrollo Urbano) and we could proceed with projects estimates for the water, sewer and electric in La Yacata, there came another demanda (lawsuit). Unbelievable! This demanda (lawsuit) was from the very same perforador del pozo (well-hole driller) that sent the first lawsuit (See Demanda 1) and for the same reason. He claimed that La Yacata owed him money for services rendered, this time in the amount of $500,000 pesos plus interests and court costs.
Since the judge ruled in our favor in the first lawsuit, we had assumed that would be the end of it, because no case can be reopened once the final verdict has been rendered. Not so folks! The claimant (el perforador del pozo well-hole driller) submitted a Pagaré (promissory note) and a claim that did not specify why La Yacata owes him money, just that the community does.
Our mutual acquaintance Chuchi had been summoned to give a confessional (testimonial) about the details of this debt, because of his good moral character (or so the summons read). I asked Super Prez if we could submit questions to the confessional. Lying before the judge carries a hefty fine and jail time so he may be more apt to tell the truth and finally finish this travesty of the justice system. He said he would look into it with R2, who continued to be our legal representative.
The basis of this lawsuit was the Pagaré (promissory note) and a copy of it was included in the summons. It was dated 2007 and signed by Chuchi with p.p. in front of his name. This p.p. is the legal abbreviation (por poder) and indicated that Chuchi was the legal representative of the community. However, in 2007, R was the registered president of La Yacata and we have the testamento (document) to prove it. The amount of the Pagaré (promissory note) was an even $500,000, half the amount of the first lawsuit. The address of the debtor was listed as calle Puebla (Puebla Street) which was where Super Prez currently has his own private business office, not Chuchi. Super Prez did not open his office until 2008 and had the town registration to prove it.
On the back of the Pagaré (promissory note) was the handwritten notation that the well-hole driller dude received two payments on the interest, one in 2009 for $1,200 and another in 2011 for $1,500. Writing anything but the names, address and signatures of the guaranteers on the back of a promissory note invalidates it, but I guess no one told him this. Furthermore, in 2011, J was the registered president of La Yacata, not Chuchi and I was the treasurer and I certainly didn’t authorize any payments for a well from the community funds.
So the first Monday in June, I went to drop off some papers at Super Prez’s office and chat about La Yacata progress when he informed me that he was to report to court that morning and I was scheduled for Tuesday. He had known since Saturday afternoon but didn’t want to tell me so that I wouldn’t spend Sunday fretting about it. He also said that R2 was on his way to the office, so I should wait there to talk to him. So I did.
As R2 was going over some of the questions Super Prez would be asked, I pointed out that I was the treasurer of the association when the second payment on interest was supposedly made, so I knew for a fact that the community hadn’t made a payment because I had never received a request for payment nor made a payment from the community funds. R2 was so pleased with this information that he clapped his hands, however, it occurred to me that as our legal representative, he should have already known that.
So Tuesday came and I arrived at the juzgados (courthouse) at 10:30 as requested. R2 arrived 15 minutes later (early for Mexican time) with R’s wife. I never quite understood why she was brought to testify since R was president and then secretary of the association and a person can not be represented by another person, but perhaps it was because R was currently out of the country. Regardless, she was called to be the first witness, then me, then…could this be…Chuchi!
Chuchi arrived at 11:00 and was greeted by R2, if not warmly, then at least with a handshake. R’s wife and I nodded our heads at him and turned away. Chuchi was, at least, clean, if not well dressed for a court appearance in khakis and t-shirt. He also carried a used water bottle. It appeared he brought his own courage (vodka) with him.
R2 took me outside and gave me a general gist of what his questions would be. I was a little concerned about the first one–what my name is and spent some time practicing in my mind while I waited. The problem was that my Mexican identification used my married name but the notario (lawyer) that registered the mesa directiva (community council) used my maiden name since women in Mexico do not change their names when they marry and to top it all off he spelled my maiden name wrong. So I was not sure how to answer that question.
So R’s wife went in for her testimony and Chuchi and I waited outside. After about an hour of waiting, it was my turn. I thought we would actually be in a courtroom, but no. Our testimonies were recorded in an office room with what seemed to be acoustic panels on the walls, drawn blinds, a computer that looked to be from the 1980’s and bright blue office roller chairs. I admit I was hard pressed not to spin on my chair during questioning.
R2, the female lawyer representing the pozo guy, the secretary and myself were the only people in the room. R’s wife was sent out at first but since Chuchi was outside, she was called back in so that the two witnesses would not collaborate on their answers.
I needn’t have worried so much about the name question. The secretary used my identification to get the information. Then I was asked where I was born, if I lived in México now, if I was related to the pozo guy or Super Prez and whether I could read and write. I later asked R’s wife if she had been asked the same and she said yes, even the same questions about the case, so I didn’t feel as affronted about being asked if I could read and write after that.
The questions and answers from R’s wife were already in the computer and when I answered, the secretary only changed answers. I was a bit worried when at question 7 the computer shut down, but only the last question was lost.
I was asked whether I had any interest in the outcome of the case, whether I had any malice toward the pozo guy, whether I knew the pozo guy and whether abonos (payments) had been made by the association, all of which were no. I was asked whether I knew Super Prez and since when, whether I knew Chuchi and since when, whether Chuchi had been president of the association and when, and when we began using the office on Puebla, all of which I could answer easily. I must not have been as wordy as was expected since the secretary would ask me “y qué” when I would answer with a sí or no. The final question on the list was not allowed by the judge, so I wasn’t given an opportunity to answer it.
I was never asked directly how I knew this information, so I hope that point was made clear through the copies of the testamentos (documents) that registered the 3 presidents of the asociación since Chuchi was ousted and their councils. I also didn’t think I answered some of the dates well since I didn’t have the exact dates and could only give years, but I answered truthfully so no jail time or fine in the future for me.
R’s wife and I were then sent out of the room while Chuchi and his bottle entered for testimony. She and I had a chance to talk a bit. She seems nice and normal, not like R who sometimes se van las chivas–or in other words gets off track. She had known my mother-in-law and even remembered that it had been a year since her death, however, I don’t remember seeing her at any of the funeral services last year, just her husband.
When Chuchi came out, he wasn’t happy and neither was the lawyer for the prosecution. R2 slipped out and gave us the ok sign, pleased with the way things were going. Then we had to wait while the testimonies were printed out and given to the judge for his approval to be admitted as evidence in the case, then sign every page of our testimonies. While we were waiting for all of this to be completed, Chuchi gave different lawyer $500 pesos right in front of R’s wife and myself. As we were leaving R’s wife commented on this to R2, identifying the lawyer to him, and he wasn’t pleased but said it must have been on some other matter. Chuchi also tried to talk to the female lawyer that was legal representation for the pozo guy and explain that he had never turned over the accounts because they had been asked for 3 months after the new mesa directiva (community committee) had been elected. The lawyer’s response was to put up her hand signaling that she didn’t want to hear any more and turn away. If it comes down to nit-picking about dates, I have a dated copy of the letter we took to his office to formally request the documentation and others can be called in to testify that he was publicly requested to hand over the papers at the junta (meeting) prior to the letter and refused in front of more than 30 colonos (property owners). (See The Battle for Power)
Another lawyer greeted Chuchi while we waited and asked if he was promoting himself politically. Chuchi was the candidate for PT in the last election campaigns and recently was in the newspaper posing with the PT representative for Guanajuato. (See Politicking) Chuchi made no response and the lawyer went on to say that instead of being here in court, he should be campaigning in the colonias (neighborhoods) because that is where la vida (life) is and then he left.
Finally, we were able to leave at nearly 2:00 in the afternoon. My faithful husband had waited outside for me and was a bit cranky having not eaten his lunch yet. We arrived in La Yacata just in time to see the woman who delivers the summons for court drop off a summons for my father-in-law. I haven’t yet heard the outcome of that particular summons.
On a post script to the day’s adventures, R2 was contacted by both Chuchi and the pozo guy to see if we could reach an acuerdo (agreement). I don’t know what they think to bargain with as the items we want (the permit to drill a well and the certificate to the water rights) were never obtained by them. Plus there is that little matter of court costs. Just for the first demanda (lawsuit), la colonia (neighborhood) owes R2 $100,000 pesos. When the verdict for the second demanda (lawsuit) is rendered, we will owe more money. Then, of course, there is this one. And as a third point, I am not sure that the lawsuit can be stopped at this point. Then there is the idea of justice that hasn’t been satisfied, at least for those of us that have been defrauded by these men. So I guess we will see what they have to offer and go from there.