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A Woman Was Murdered In A Crime Lord's Cell In An Apparent Bid To Prevent Him From Being Extradited

People in Paraguay have reacted with outrage after Lidia Meza Burgos was killed in the cell of Brazilian cartel boss Marcelo "Piloto" Pinheiro.

Posted on November 23, 2018, at 11:48 a.m. ET

Norberto Duarte / AFP / Getty Images

Woman across Paraguay are reacting with shock and fury after a young woman was murdered in the cell of a Brazilian crime lord, in an apparent attempt to prevent himself from being deported.

Lidia Meza Burgos, 18, was found in the cell of Marcelo "Piloto" Pinheiro on Nov. 17 in the Paraguayan capital, Asunción. She had been repeatedly beaten and stabbed with a kitchen knife, authorities said.

The details around why the teenager was there remain unclear. Local news organization UltimoHora reported it was the second time she had visited the cartel boss, who faces 26 years in jail in Brazil on charges of homicide, arms smuggling, robbery, and drug trafficking.

When guards at riot police barracks in Asunción, where Pinheiro has been kept since he was arrested last December following six years on the run, found Meza she was immediately taken to the hospital. However, doctors pronounced her dead on arrival.

Her father, Francisco, said the family had been living in Argentina but had moved back to Paraguay and that his daughter had most recently been caring for a 90-year-old woman.

In the aftermath of her death, women in Paraguay are calling for justice and a proper investigation into Meza's murder. Many of the calls came through social media, rallied around the hashtag #JusticiaParaLidia.

El Estado debe investigar el crimen de #LidiaMeza. No basta con expulsar a su asesino! #JusticiaParaLidia #NoNosCallamosMas 😠🔥 https://t.co/RD9GJDcc5c

"The State must investigate the crime of #LidiaMeza. It is not enough to expel your murderer! #JusticiaParaLidia"

¿Sabés quién era Lidia? Era una chica de 18 años, recién cumplidos. Y mboriahú. Va hilo con información que busca que conozcamos a un ser humano cuyo asesinato merece JUSTICIA #JusticiaparaLidia

"Do you know who Lidia was? She was an 18-year-old girl, who just turned up. ... This is a thread with information that tries to know a human being whose murder deserves JUSTICE."

En Paraguay entregaron a niña de 18 años a narco para que la asesine e intente salvarse así de una extradición. Solo con cómplices pudo suceder en una cárcel de "alta seguridad". Una mujer al "sacrificio" para salvar a un bandido. Hay muchos tan criminales como el que la apuñaló.

"In Paraguay they gave an 18-year-old girl to a narco to assassinate her and try to save himself from extradition. Only with accomplices could this have happened in a 'high security' prison. A woman 'sacrificed' to save a bandit. There are many criminals like the one who stabbed her."

Many women tweeted "We are all Lidia" in solidarity with the murdered teen.

¡Son penas encimadas, ser pobre y ser mujer! Ya lo decía Carmen Soler. ¡Lidia somos todas! #JusticiaParaLidia

"It is heartache, being poor and being a woman!
Carmen Soler already said it. We are all Lidia!"

Paraguayan TV presenter Mercedes Barriocanal noted that Meza was seemingly used as "bait," and that it was a brutal reminder of how little women are valued in the country.

Paraguay only specifically criminalized violence against women, as well as femicide, earlier this year, after vocal calls from South American women, echoing the #MeToo movement with #YoTeCreo (I believe you).

Lidia Meza fue seleccionada por ser la presa de menor valor y mayor beneficio,fue una carnada. Cuando una mujer es considerada como objeto,o se nos da un valor utilitario,estamos utilizando la misma lógica patriarcal presente en las relaciones de poder en nuestra cultura. https://t.co/f2HIS7iEoY

"Lidia Meza was selected for being the object of less value and greater benefit, she was used as bait. When a woman is considered an object, or given a utilitarian value, we are using the same patriarchal logic present in the power relations in our culture."

There were 49 femicides and 13,491 incidents of gender-based violence against women in 2018, according to Paraguay's department for women — the highest ever recorded. Across South America, a 2017 report found on average 12 women were killed by their partners every single day.

¿Por qué el feminicidio es un crimen de estado? Porque éste atraviesa nuestras vidas y en cada aspecto de su intervención legitima la violencia hacia las mujeres. Instaura las condiciones para nuestras muertes y nos abandona a la suerte. Lidia es la evidencia. #JusticiaParaLidia

"Why is femicide a state crime? Because it crosses our lives and in every aspect of its intervention it legitimizes violence against women. It establishes the conditions for our deaths and abandons us to luck.

"Lidia is the evidence."

Local TV station ABC Color reported that the killing was carefully planned and that guards heard Meza’s cries for help but did not intervene.

In a strange twist, a New York Times journalist interviewed Pinheiro on the day of Meza’s murder, with the crime lord’s lawyer present. After he the journalist left, Meza entered Pinheiro’s's cell at around 12:30 p.m. local time, according to UltimaHora.

In the aftermath of her death, Pinheiro's lawyer immediately called for his client to face murder charges in Paraguay, rather than Brazil, and stay in the country.

Paraguay is known for offering wealthy inmates "VIP" cells in exchange for bribes. Asked by a reporter why he wanted to remain in the country at the beginning of November, Pinheiro responded, "Paraguay is a country of corruption, of impunity."

However, Paraguay's president, Mario Abdo Benítez, has already set in motion Pinheiro's extradition. He has been moved to a maximum-security federal prison in solitary confinement, ahead of being deported to Brazil.


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