The Cinco de Mayo Charade

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

CECOMEX's headquarters on East 110th Street are on the damp basement level of an apartment building, and many days its doors don't open at all.

Since his incarceration, Cáceres ceded control of the organization to his 19-year-old son, Ivan (the rape victim's half-brother), and Pérez, a longtime volunteer. CECOMEX leadership admits that the organization struggles without the presence of its founder.

That said, Cinco de Mayo is rapidly approaching, and all indications are, and its leaders confirm, that CECOMEX is still responsible for organizing the parade and parties for tens of thousands of people. That's the day when 116th Street will be redolent with corn and cilantro, and vendors will sell fried poblano peppers, squash-flower quesadillas, and beef-tongue tacos.

These fiestas have become highly anticipated celebrations of Mexican heritage. But at least as recently as the last part of April, callers might have noticed that CECOMEX's phones seemed to ring indefinitely, if they weren't off the hook altogether. Internet-goers would have noticed that the site was down every now and then. Members of a maintenance crew working next door say they thought that the group had moved out months ago. Some residents of El Barrio say that CECOMEX had been shuttered for weeks at a time.

Despite its closed-down appearance, the group continues to operate out of the same offices where police arrested its founder and then-president.

At about 9 p.m. on January 19, 2010, police handcuffed and arrested Cáceres and also seized a digital camera, computer, hard drives, memory sticks, a cell phone, and condoms. There were Internet searches for "incest" and "swingers" on his computers, according to court documents.

The evidence against him also included a receipt for a hotel in Queens, where he's said to have had sex with his daughter. He also attacked his daughter at the CECOMEX headquarters and in their home, according to court records.

"A jury of 12 citizens found the defendant guilty beyond a reasonable doubt of the crimes of rape in the second degree, endangering the welfare of a child, and criminal contempt in the second degree," Joan Vollero, spokeswoman for the Manhattan District Attorney's Office, tells the Voice. "The proof, which included significant corroboration in the form of computer records, hotel records, and additional testimony, demonstrated that the defendant repeatedly raped and molested his biological daughter from the time she was about 11 years old to when she was 14 years old."

Cáceres denies all wrongdoing. "I never had sex with her," he told police in 2010, according to court documents. "I would not do such a thing. I think my wife has gotten into her mind. We have been having marital problems. My work at CECOMEX takes up most of my time. I have bought her things such as clothing, a Wii video game, Xbox, with the help of her mother. I do not know why this is happening. I take care of my daughter while her mother is at work. I take her to school in the mornings, and on the weekends, I am alone with her in the apartment."

Shortly after his arrest, the court issued a restraining order against Cáceres, barring him from contacting his daughter or wife. Four days later, though, he called their home. "I was in shock," he tells the Voice. "I was trying to figure out what was going on. I didn't understand what was happening, why I couldn't talk to my wife and daughter."

Cáceres insists that he hasn't given up and has started to appeal the sentence.

"If I did it, why didn't I plead guilty?" he says. "They said that I could get two years if I said I was guilty, but I didn't. If I were guilty, why wouldn't I just sign the paper? Thing is, I'm not. And when I get out, I know I can talk to my daughter again one day, and my name won't be attached to a guilty [verdict]." 

Immediately after his arrest, Cáceres's supporters tried to keep the case under wraps. But not, Pérez said, to cover anything up.

"Juan asked us not to say anything about the case, and we wanted to respect his decision, because we were afraid about the private lives of his minor-aged children," she told the Voice.

But since Cáceres's conviction in March, CECOMEX has done far more than just quietly coordinate legal aid: The new defense has been an offensive against the victim and her mother. 

"His wife put his daughter up to this," Pérez tells the Voice. "She has drinking problems. She was having an affair with someone else. A few days before Juan was arrested, she came to the office and said, 'If I had a pistol, I'd kill you right now.' "

Cáceres's wife couldn't be reached for comment. Judging from numerous interviews conducted by the Voice, no one is speaking up for them.

In conversation after conversation in El Barrio, people contend that Cáceres—and not his daughter—is the victim. On the street, in offices, and even in organizations that stand up for immigrant rights, people say that Cáceres's wife is egging the daughter on. Some point out that his wife is Dominican. It's impossible to tell whether there are ethnic tensions at play here, but until recent years, most Latinos in East Harlem were of Dominican descent. Now, the Mexican community is quite large and expanding rapidly, and the majority of Mexican immigrants are Poblanos, as people from Puebla are called colloquially. Some observers say there is animosity between the various Latino nationalities in the area.

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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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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

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!

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.

Getshorty123
Getshorty123

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

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.

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

Zl12
Zl12

Bet ya salivate at the thought eh?! Cunt.

Miss
Miss

Truth hurts doesn't PIG.

Zl12
Zl12

you don't know what truth is, CUNT.

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.

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.

Andy s is sorrowful shit
Andy s is sorrowful shit

andy you are a sorry peice of shit---the s obviously stands for shit.

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?

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.

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.

Andy s is sorrowful shit
Andy s is sorrowful shit

and i bet your mamacita likes to take it up the butt from numerous latin kings.

Andy.S
Andy.S

Ah, there goes the voice of experience.

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?

levinson
levinson

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

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!

Zl12
Zl12

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

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.

TonyOrtega
TonyOrtega

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

 
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