MEXICO CITY (AP) — María Elena Ríos has conflicting emotions about her saxophone: She as soon as blamed the instrument for bringing her to the brink of loss of life — nevertheless it additionally has been her salvation.
Ríos, 29, thought her profession as a musician and her devotion to her saxophone was what led her former boyfriend – an influential politician – to rent the boys who splashed acid onto her face and physique, disfiguring her. Later, she realized he merely could not settle for that she had damaged off their relationship.
Among the attackers and the ex-boyfriend are in jail, however Ríos nonetheless needed to come to phrases along with her instrument. Her love of the saxophone, ultimately, helps heal the psychological scars left by the terrifying assault.
“We’re reconciling, little by little,” Ríos mentioned of the musical instrument. “I hated it, as a result of I believed it was accountable” for the 2019 assault in Mexico’s southern state of Oaxaca. She’s carried out dwell since then, however nonetheless wears a masks masking her decrease face.
“It bothered my attacker rather a lot that I used to be a musician,” Ríos recounts, “as a result of he mentioned we musicians had been vagrants, poverty stricken, that we simply took medication and that once I went to live shows I in all probability participated in orgies.”
The ex-politician who allegedly ordered the assault is being held in jail whereas awaiting trial, as are two different males, however one other stays at giant.
In the meantime, Ríos has joined a motion calling for larger punishments for acid assaults. and says the saxophone is her “sword” in that battle on behalf of victims.
Mexico Metropolis legislators have proposed a invoice bearing her nickname, “Malena,” which might classify acid assaults as a definite, critical crime equal to tried murder. Presently they’re handled as easy assault or bodily damage.
Acid assaults are most typical in South Asia, but additionally have been documented in lots of different elements of the world, together with Latin America.
The Carmen Sánchez Basis, began in 2021 to focus on the problem in Mexico, says authorities well being knowledge from 2022 suggests greater than 100 ladies had been attacked by chemical substances or some sort of corrosive agent, although solely 28 had been reported to authorities.
Ríos remembers having to decide on, at age 9, between taking part in soccer and becoming a member of one of many musical bands which can be a well-liked neighborhood exercise within the rural villages in Oaxaca.
“I’m not her anymore. I’m not the gorgeous younger girl who performed the saxophone anymore,” mentioned Ríos. “Right now I can say I’ve been compelled to develop into a defender of my very own rights, and a defender of the rights of different fellow ladies survivors.”
She was hospitalized for 5 months after the assault, and nonetheless remembers the disappointment in her dad and mom’ eyes when she awoke in hospital.
She now attends musical courses in Mexico Metropolis, the place she has taken refuge because the assault. The federal authorities has supplied her with bodyguards as a result of her attacker was rich and influential.
Ríos mentioned she and her household had been harassed earlier than the assault, when she tried to interrupt off the connection. She says the harassment continues, and that she lives in fixed worry for her life.
The person accused of ordering the assault, Juan Manuel Vera Carrizal, was a neighborhood legislator and businessman. He has declared himself harmless and his attorneys deny he had any involvement.
Although he was jailed and expelled from his political get together in 2020, Ríos says he nonetheless has affect.
In January he was nearly launched to accommodate arrest after a choose tried to reclassify the crime, making use of guidelines for a lesser offense. However as a result of her case has gained has gained nationwide consideration, the try failed.
Music is now a refuge for Ríos. “Once I start to assemble my saxophone, I really feel like I’m placing myself collectively,” she says.
Final 12 months she was invited to play on stage for the primary time after the assault. It was on the annual Vive Latino music competition in Mexico Metropolis with the rock group Maldita Vecindad.
She says it made her really feel “everlasting.”