The Cinco de Mayo Charade

Its organizer sits in jail for raping his daughter. And the parade of his sympathizers marches on.

The Cinco de Mayo Charade
Taylor Callery

A little more than 20 years ago, Juan Cáceres immigrated to the United States. Like so many of his countrymen, he wanted a better life, and he certainly seemed to get it.

Cáceres started off small, selling tomatoes and limes on the streets of New York, driving a cab, and eventually branching into business ventures. He also became an activist for immigrant rights, founding the Spanish Harlem nonprofit Centro de la Comunidad Mexicana (CECOMEX), helping immigrants find affordable housing, and lobbying the Mexican consulate for better service. 

Talk to people on the streets of El Barrio, and they'll tell you that Cáceres, who just turned 44, is an outstanding family man and a beloved community leader. The go-to guy for an immigrant's every need, he could hook you up with a job, and if you got into legal trouble, he'd get you a lawyer. He did so much work on behalf of the community that the governor of Puebla once named him the state's representative in New York. The city's Mexican population has doubled in the past decade, according to some estimates, and fully half of the 500,000 Mexican immigrants in the city are from the east-central state of Puebla. (Cáceres himself is from the southeastern state of Tabasco.)

Not all of CECOMEX's work is serious and somber. It also organizes El Barrio's annual Cinco de Mayo and Mexican Independence Day parades, which have drawn such big crowds in recent years that police have had to shut down nearby subway stations. It's a very important task for a very important man in the Mexican immigrant community.

But Cáceres won't be attending this week's lively street party and parade. That's because he's locked up on Rikers Island. In March, a jury convicted him of second-degree rape—of his own daughter, from the time she was 11 until she was 14. He was also convicted of endangering the child's welfare and of criminal contempt. He was found not guilty of predatory sexual assault against a child. He was sentenced to nine years in prison—the maximum.

News of Cáceres's conviction quickly circulated among local Spanish speakers, with reports surfacing in Spanish-language newspapers and wire services. New York's mainstream, English-language papers did not appear to take any notice of his downfall—despite the made-for-tabloid tale of a father convicted of raping his own daughter—though he has long been a major player in the city's rapidly growing Mexican community.

Cáceres's conviction, however, isn't just an example of a community leader fallen from grace. His absence has created a power vacuum in El Barrio's expat enclave and has shown just how ugly sexual politics can be in the neighborhood, centered on 116th Street in East Harlem

Cáceres's supporters—he still has many, despite the conviction—have decided to run CECOMEX without him, and they now dedicate much of its time, energy, and other resources to insisting that he is innocent.

But the group's top brass and allies aren't just campaigning on behalf of Cáceres. They have also gone out of their way to vilify his daughter, the underage victim. The courts withhold underage rape victims' names and whereabouts, but many people in El Barrio have made the girl's identity public, and they brandish her name as a weapon against her.

There's even a photo of her on the main page of CECOMEX's website, where visitors have left comments calling her a liar. At rallies in support of Cáceres, attendees have even been said to carry posters displaying photos of her face. Some at the press conferences have yelled her name while chanting, "You have to tell the truth!"

Meanwhile, top Mexican organizations in the city have either come out even now in open support of Cáceres or act as if the conviction never happened in the first place. Spanish-language media outlets have continued to give him and his supporters ample opportunity to state his case against his daughter. Nobody has rallied behind her.

The victim's identity "isn't a secret," Sandra Pérez, entrusted by Cáceres to help run CECOMEX, tells the Voice, just as she has told the Spanish-language press. "There are images of the child in videos and photos. A lot of people know her because she was always involved in public events. Being the daughter of a public figure, your identity is always well known. And not just her identity, but the family's identity."

Pérez says that CECOMEX doesn't advocate making the girl's name and face public, but that it has not acted to stop it.

"They're people's opinions, and we can't control how they express themselves," she says.

Cáceres insists he has nothing to do with the propaganda campaign against his daughter. "Of course I want to protect my children's privacy," he tells the Voice during an interview at Rikers. "But everyone knows me and my family. I'm a public figure, and we were always together. I don't think that it's right that they're doing that, but I can't control other people."

Or himself, as a jury has ruled. Cáceres started to show his daughter porn and molest her in 2007, when she was 11, according to court records. When she turned 12, records say, he started to have oral sex and vaginal and anal intercourse with her.

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41 comments
Normajean
Normajean

Correct, September 15-16 is the true celebration of Mexican independence which occurs each year, mostly within Mexico, dwarfing any observation of May 5th in that country! But for Mexican Americans, and for Americans who live in cities with large Mexican and Hispanic populations, May 5th is the day set aside for appreciating Mexico, usually with a little too much beer and lots of Mexican food. The events of May 5th were in honor of a military victory over the French, a short-lived triumph, experienced mostly by the people of Puebla, who are described in the article as the ethnic group represented by the organization in New York City.Usually a city's Chinese New Year Parade is the annual project of the Asian population, a similar kind of organized event which only very loosely corresponds to the actual Lunar New Year, and it is also more of a cultural spectacle for Americans than the Chinese or Asian-Americans, to take that time to really see Chinese people and give thought to their culture.

A lot of typeset went into the slanted story I read in the Voice, reader comments ran with the slant, offering further derogatory images of a brainwashed community with simple minds and moral flaws built in, and it mocked their celebration as it hung their hero out to dry. In May or September, Mexico is our closest ally and its people are at the front of our economic power, they deserve better than being broadsided by a sneering smear-piece, however well-written!

Normajean
Normajean

Cinco de Mayo is a day of importance to Mexicans and Mexican Americans because it is "Mexican Independence Day", and they (we) would find a way to celebrate it simply because it is special. This impulse and ritual is not dependent on the level of good or bad publicity which a local community organizer is receiving when the holiday occurs, like the holy month of Ramadan is revered by Muslims, so even a spectacular smear-job by the Islamophobic press would not dampen the holiness of the month, nor would the often reported perversion of Catholic priests make the Christmas holiday a "charade" (any more than it already is). What troubles me here is the writer's tone of sneering derision, and the assumption of guilt this article takes. By insisting that the man is guilty because he has been convicted of the crime, the claims of his supporters are framed as fantasy. In the real world, courts and even juries aren't fool-proof, and the father's claim that the child was caught up in her parents' feud and possibly pressured to lie, is not impossible per se. Children who are victims of abuse frequently accuse different people than the true offender for various reasons, and in cases like this, as juicy as they seem for zealous reporters, the issue of confidentiality is of utmost importance to the psychological and legal maze of issues provoked by such scandal. I believe a more professional, i.e. impartial tone would be more appropriate to guard the reputations of any and all innocent victims.

Bert Simpson
Bert Simpson

What? A well connected pederast? What a shock.

Lseymour65
Lseymour65

Can't believe that people are so naive..."wouldn't she have seemed scared?" Wow, how dense can some people be???? My heart breaks for this child. Not only was she raped by her FATHER but, now by the community she grew up in.

Gro27
Gro27

Abolutely nothing to.do with culture this is a sick a twisted person I wish to God NYC had the death penalty ;-( Of course blame the victim ;-( I hope Daddy Dearest enjoys prison because I can GUARNTEE without a doubt He's Somebody's Bitch Tonight ;-)

Miss
Miss

That's the problem with other cultures; they value age very little when it comes to sexual abuse. But what's truly disgusting is the total denial that this "pillar of immigrant society" by his people that he could have committed this terrible crime of incest.

R_ellis_1
R_ellis_1

Wow. Liberals' heads are exploding.

On the one hand, we have an entitled and tireless campaigner for even MORE handouts for invaders (illegal aliens). YAY!

On the other, this creature raped its daughter. Tragically this story gives no opportunity to pull out bullshit racist stereotypes about "hillbillies" and incest. BOO!

Enojon
Enojon

Living in the hispanic community I know it is not really a secret that dads uncles and even cousins are an incestuous lot. I don't believe he is innocent in spite of his "good" deeds

james & june pitts
james & june pitts

reality of all that is hidden- these'criminal illegals - who break our united states constitution and rape pillage kill our law enforcement officers and border patrol officers and the illegal in the white hose does NOTHING TO PROTECT AND DEFEND AMERICANS AND AMERICA AGAINST ALL THIS. WE HAVE EVEN BEEN TOLD THA WHEN A PRIEST GOES TO MEXICO FOR MASSES AND RETREATS HE IS MET BY THESE PEOPLE WITH PROSTITUES FOR TH PRIETS AND CAN NOT FATHOM WHY PRIESTS ARE NOT GRATEFUL TO THEM AND WHEN THEY TRY TO EXPLAIN THEY HAVE TAKEN THE VOW OF CHASITITY THY ARE RIDICULED BY THESE MEXICANS. THEY DO NOT HONOR OR LIVE BY LAWS AND RULES-- BUT BREAK THEM , THEY ALL NEED TO BE DEPORTED IMMEADIATELY AND ALL THOS WHO AID AND ABET THEM IN THIR CRIMES AGANST AMERICA, THE TREASON BETRAYAL AND TRAITOR ACTIONS OF ANYONE WHO ATTEMPS THIS OR WHO AIDS THEM NEEDS TO BE JAILED AND DEPROTED ALONG WITH EVERY SINGLE CRIMINAL ILLEGAL,

Helen McCaffrey
Helen McCaffrey

Too bad he cannot be afforded the same treatment as the Emperor of Mexco Maximillian.God help the child heal.

HolyCow
HolyCow

no one is 100% good or 100% bad. even hitler had a dog who loved him... this man may have been a great leader to the mexican-american community, may have been and done all they credited him with, but that does not mean he didnt rape his daughter. a person can do some good and some bad.. i am NOT defending him. i think he deserves his prison term. i am merely saying, he has apparently also done some great good in his life.

Trslackey
Trslackey

Sorry but I'm from Texas and I've worked in the Texas prison system.This is not considered a crime by most mexican people,male or female.Get mad if you want to but it's true.All the females in a man's house are at his disposal from birth to death.Around 11 or twelve they are taught to dress provacatively and wear high heels and to cater to men's every wish.They are considered ready to be a wife around 13 or 14 and in the US they wait until 15 then everyone in the family expects to hear wedding bells soon.If you don't believe it check out the FISTULA RATES in latin countries.Obstetric fistula (or vaginal fistula) is a severe medical condition in which a fistula (hole) develops between either the rectum and vagina or between the bladder and vagina (see vesicovaginal fistula) after severe or failed childbirth usually when the Mother is to young or too small for childbirth and there is not adequate medical care.It leaves them incontinent in urine and feces and in some countries where there isn't proper care they live on the outskirts of villages as outcasts.It happens in most if not all male dominated countries.Laws are made to prevent someone doing something again not initially.I had one case where the father of 8 kids raped anally and vaginally all but the 3 month old crib baby.His oldest was only 8 years old,she told one day when she could not sit down in class.The entire family -both sides turned against her and refused to offer her a place to stay as the Mother kicked her out.They figured that all should be silence in the family.Both the Mother and her Mother had been similarly treated and they saw no reason to take a man from his family.The Mother offered to kick her out as long as he could stay.If you want to know how latin males think about latin females watch their TV stations.All women even those on the news stations are boob-enhanced skin tight dress wearing bimbos.Most wear as little as possible and don't speak much.Commercials are limited to making boobs bigger,asses smaller and penis-enlargement for the most part even on kids shows.Go figure they don't think they have done anything wrong.

Ard130
Ard130

Has any one looked at the cecomex website, his daughters so hot, who wouldnt do her?

Andy
Andy

Another fine example of poor, one-sided journalism by the Village Voice, and a splendid indication of the neo-conservative wave of new york transplants that work there these days.

Aside from the fact that the New York "justice" system is hardly equitable, there were some major aspects of the case that showed that the DA was acting under political pressure, and that there was a strong possibility that the case was instigated by anti-immigration proponents. This was not a fair trial and bore many of the aspects of Nifong during the Duke LaCrosse case. the fact that it was an incest accusation was a perfect opportunity for the DA.

Caceres did, in fact, refuse several plea agreements, including the one mentioned for a two-year sentence (at a comfortable prison). I'm not saying he's an angel, but it would be unfair to be quite so puritanical as most of the commenters here.

Whatever Caceres actually did time will tell, but is it justice that Victoria Bekiempis attempts to condemn CECOMEX along with it's founder? An organization that has provided so much support to the people who diligently work where no New Yorkers would ever venture? And where specifically is the evidence of the financial misappropriation she accuses CECOMEX of?

This entire article, in it's bias, is reduced to malicious, racist gossip attempting to destroy a community organization serving an at-risk population.

Joanne R. Pacicca
Joanne R. Pacicca

There is no excuse or redemption for this crime. Good deeds fade in light of this horrific crime. The puzzle is the community support, I just don't get it!

Utahlady
Utahlady

Really does not matter what his sir name, color or race is . For his acts he is the lowest form of human life. What kind of person would defend him?

Mary T Browne
Mary T Browne

"The young woman says the real proof of Cáceres's innocence is his good deeds" Does she think that "good" people are incapable of bad deeds in secret? And the young woman who says he did not try to rape her when they were alone ...does she not realise he was only interested in his daughter. Has anybody thought about what was found on his internet? If he got 9 years he deserved them. People are strange, they defend the indefensible. This is why so many "good" people in the community get away with murder, rape, wife beating, incest etc etc.Does anyone consider the victims? What a disgraceful community. I hope the parade is challenged by some real good people

amuncat
amuncat

Awww! Racist! It's just a cultural thing...you wouldn't understand. This is right in line with the Mexican cultural practice of older men, sometimes in their thirties, "dating" girls as young as 13!!!! I guess Caceras just didn't feel like leaving the house for his pediphile adventures.

Please note how easily he has kicked is little girl under the bus! Hey, where is mom?!!!! I hope that she and daughter are far away! They never said if he was an illegal alien or not, but with NY, assume he is, you think your local law enforcement is laxed with regard to illegal aliens, to to NY!

Sakara
Sakara

250,000 more mexicans in nyc in a mere ten years....!!!! and, that, gringo liberals will say, has no negative effect on USA environment or way of life----the gringo that wrote this article no doubt believes in that. AND IT'S ALWAYS GRINGOS WHO WRITE STORIES ABOUT LATINOS----LIBERAL MEDIA IS 99 PERCENT GRINGOS, ESPECIALLY WHEN IT COMES TO STORIES ABOUT LATINOS IN USA.

Sankucuk
Sankucuk

"Cinco de Mayo is a day of importance to Mexicans and Mexican Americans because it is "Mexican Independence Day", and they (we) would find a way to celebrate it simply because it is special."

Cinco de Mayo is NOT Mexican Independence Day and is NOT special for many Mexicans.

Phoebe Drew
Phoebe Drew

you answered as if you perfectly were present in Mr. Caceres and his daughters life. You must be some type of Shaman to know for sure that he rape her. Evil people are always hiding.

levinson
levinson

What do you mean by "other cultures"? If you mean cultures other than the US, ahem, "culture" then I suggest that you start looking where the remainder of US hypocrites are failing and KNOW THYSELF!

Aleck
Aleck

I don't think you have and idea what are you talking about, what you refer as "other cultures" it just shows your ignorance about other cultures in general, when you live your house should go further than the Shopping Mall

Azra
Azra

Nowhere in this article does it suggest Caceres came to or stayed in the US illegally. Unless you're 100% Native American you are the invader.

Nu Jack City
Nu Jack City

Where in the article does it say that Caceres organization worked for "handouts"?As someone of hispanic decent I take offense to your use of the term "invader" when referencing hispanic ethnic groups. You're insensitivity just shows how there are still people in this country who choose not to see diversity as a good thing. Would you prefer a country with only anglo people who close its doors to immigrants and other cultures? Hispanics have been apart of NYC and the US for a long time contributing to the arts and sciences as well as the political. You shouldn't term all Mexicans as invaders and learn to appreciate what they bring to our city and our country. What happened to Caceres daughter is terrible and I hope that she abused for all those years.

Zl12
Zl12

Bet ya salivate at the thought eh?! Cunt.

Aleck
Aleck

Is obvious that you don't have an idea what "most mexicans" really think about this, the fact that what you experienced in jail doesn't mean applies to everyone, this is the kind of problems that is result by letting creationist rule the board of education in Texas, completely stupidity!

Aleck_san
Aleck_san

Obviously don't know any mexicans, you are talking from racism and stereotypes point of view. You can generalize by saying that "most" of mexicans not consider this a crime, in that case, I could say that all politician women are stupid just because Sara Palin's train wreck.

Andy.S
Andy.S

"Sorry but I'm from Texas.." Yes, I think you should have stopped at your apology.

youwrong
youwrong

The artlcle mainly focused on that man's crimes against the child that he was convicted of. It sounds like there was plenty of evidence independent of the child's testimony. The focus also was on the community and the organization's reaction to the conviction, which definitely was completely inapropriate. There is no excuse for victimizing a child that way or removing themselves far away from him. He does not deserve public defense.

levinson
levinson

"What kind of person would defend him?" Uhm, wait, wait! I know this one! Uhm, AN ATTORNEY!

Zl12
Zl12

"...practice of older men, sometimes in their thirties, "dating" girls as young as 13!" Jealous, are you?

TonyOrtega
TonyOrtega

It's like we're taking over or something.

Getshorty123
Getshorty123

No, if you have blood for 505 count, you count.

Miss
Miss

Truth hurts doesn't PIG.

Andy.S
Andy.S

Ah, there goes the voice of experience.

Zl12
Zl12

you don't know what truth is, CUNT.

Andy.S
Andy.S

And this coming from someone who can't even speak their name, let alone form a coherent insult! What privilege - do come back won't you?

 
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