Saturday, October 6, 2012

Maestro Rodolfo Cazares - Kidnapped

Written by Andy Fein, luthier at Fein Violins
 & Kevin Berdine

Maestro Rodolfo Cazares
In the sophisticated world of classical music, we often feel immune to the chaos and violence that grips much of our world. Unfortunately, no one is immune to the violence and brutality of the gangs and organized crime of northern Mexico. A member of our musical world, Maestro Rodolfo Cazares was kidnapped more than one year ago and is still being held for ransom.

Kidnapping in Mexico, and especially in the Mexican state of Tamaulipas, has risen dramatically since the government has begun cracking down on the drug cartels near the US border. Since 2006, when Felipe Calderon took office, more than 50,000 people have been killed due to the expanding war on drugs. This step-up in drug enforcement has splintered large cartels into smaller sub-groups, and have forced those with a once lucrative business to supplement their incomes with less lucrative, but more violent, crimes such as kidnapping. The death toll has risen dramatically and the number of kidnappings have as well.  Additionally, many citizens believe the government and police are involved in the abductions, or are just too incompetent to help. In 2010, the number of abductions reported was 582, and just 6 months into 2011, the reported cases were already 638.

Tamaulipas borders Brownsville, TX 

More than one year ago, on July 9, 2011, Conductor Rodolfo Cazares and his wife, Ludivine Barbier, were abducted in the middle of the night by masked gunmen. Eighteen members of Rodolfo's family were also abducted in a coordinated attack. Six or seven gunmen, dressed in military fatigues and wielding automatic weapons, stormed their house, tying up everyone, and blindfolding the adults. Children were tied up, but left without blindfolds, to see the atrocity. The gunmen ransacked the home and stole many valuables. While leaving the scene of the crime, the gunmen took time to fill their Suburban SUV with gas, with their victims inside! The terror that fills the Mexican public is so high that the gas station attendant did not report seeing a vehicle pull up with tied-up passengers, nor did he report that the gunmen left without paying for gas. After abducting the first set in the family, they used information gathered from the original victims to coordinate attacks on other family members. Since then, the women and children have been released, but Rodolfo and three other men have yet to be released. Four ransoms have been paid, but the kidnappers have yet to free the men. Each time, they come back asking for more money.

After four ransom attempts, the family gave in and contacted local police. The police assured them that they were on the case, but a month later sent out a letter stating that the family should seek help from the state authorities. Even more absurd, a few months later, two criminals were arrested in a raid and were recognized by the family. The family asked the authorities to investigate and question the criminals. To no avail. The missing men have yet to be found.

Rodolfo Cazares is a well-respected and much-loved Municipal Theatre orchestra director in Bremerhaven, Germany. His orchestra members have started a letter-writing campaign to encourage German officials to get involved in the efforts to rescue Cazares and three other men. Unfortunately, this story has had very little press until late as the Mexican government seems unwilling to help the family in this case.

We call on those holding Maestro Cazares and his relatives to release them immediately! We plead with the Mexican government to help free this talented conductor and his family!

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