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El Chalequero or the Mexican Jack the


Ripper: The Meanings of Sexual Violence in
Turn-of-the-Century Mexico City
Pablo Piccato

During the 1880s, Francisco Guerrero, aka El Chalequero or Antonio el


Chaleco, committed a long series of violent crimes, including at least two
murders, against women who worked in the northern suburbs of Mexico City.
The Mexican press compared him with Jack the Ripper, who killed ve prostitutes in London in late 1888. However, unlike his British contemporary,
whose true identity is unknown, Guerrero did nothing to hide his, and for several years he remained active and unpunished. He was nally arrested in 1888
and sentenced to death. President Porrio Daz commuted his sentence to 20
years in prison, and Guerrero was released early in 1904. In 1908 Guerrero
was arrested again and convicted for the homicide of another woman; he died
in 1910 awaiting execution. While Jack the Ripper has inspired many a mystery narrative, the story of El Chalequero straightforwardly displayed violence
against women sexual violence in particular as part of Mexico Citys
everyday life.
This article presents multiple facets of El Chalequeros life between 1888
and 1908 as a street thug, pimp, and criminal suspect. The perspectives of
criminologists discussed in the latter part of this article shed more light on the
larger meanings of El Chalequero than those offered by the police or judiciary.
Science was involved in the investigation of Jack the Rippers identity. In Mexico, criminologists and psychiatrists were summoned to explain Guerreros
behavior during his trial, and their reports concluded that he was not a pathological case, but a rather normal example of sexual conduct among the poor.
Photo by Graciela Iturbide, courtesy of Throckmorton Fine Art, New York.
I thank Silvia Arrom, Jeremy Adelman, Lila Caimari, Gabriela Cano, Xchitl Medina,
Sonia Prez Toledo, Cristina Sacristn, Mark Wasserman, Katherine Bliss, John Lear,
Hilda Bonilla, and HAHRs anonymous readers for their useful comments on earlier drafts
of this article.
Hispanic American Historical Review 81:3 4
Copyright 2001 by Duke University Press

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By stating this, they took part in a discussion about the criminal nature of male
sexual attackers, who international specialists preferred to not typify as criminals.
Crimes and Perceptions of Urban Danger

On 18 October 1887 the police retrieved the body of a woman, partially covered with brush, from the Consulado River. According to forensic doctors, the
victim was approximately 40 years old when her throat was slit. Two months
later, another corpse with similar characteristics and wounds appeared in a
ditch close to the same river.1 The word out was that such ndings were common in the northern limits of Mexico City, including the new settlements
(colonias), Peralvillo and Santa Ana, Calzada de Guadalupe, and the proximity
of the village of Guadalupe Hidalgo. Other bodies had appeared in previous
years, and several women had been raped and robbed near the Consulado
River and the Calzada de Guadalupe. The culprit(s) had not been discovered.
These were still scarcely populated areas, although characterized by an
intense movement of carts and porters entering the city through the Peralvillo
gate. Travelers, pilgrims going to and from the shrine of the Virgin of Guadalupe, and merchants all lacking the means to use the train patronized the
many inns, pulqueras, and prostitutes of the area. Each December, during the
celebrations of the Virgin, trafc and public parties increased beyond the ability of authorities to maintain order. Vending and washing laundry at the river
were other important activities, both largely conducted by women. More
densely populated colonias between downtown and Peralvillo, such as La
Bolsa and Tepito, were feared as zones of crime and vice. As with other new
lower-class settlements in a city undergoing a process of rapid growth, these
areas lacked the traditional social networks of older barrios near the center of
the city, especially in the absence of police protection. This was hardly a problem for authorities and writers who associated the working women of the area
with the hygienic and moral perils of prostitution.2
1. Alonso Rodrguez Miramn, Requisitoria pronunciada por el Agente del Ministerio
Pblico . . . en la vista en jurado de la causa instruida contra Francisco Guerrero (a) Antonio el
Chalequero y contra Jos Montoya, por robos, violaciones, heridas y homicidios perpetrados del ao de
1881 a julio de 1888 (Mexico City: Antigua Imp. y Lib. de Murgua, 1891), 7 9.
2. Carlos Roumagnac, Crmenes sexuales, vol. 1 of Crmenes sexuales y pasionales: Estudios
de psicologa morbosa (Mexico City: Lib. de Bouret, 1906 10), 91. For the lack of policing in
different areas of the city, see John Robert Lear, Workers, Vecinos and Citizens: The
Revolution in Mexico City, 1909 1917 (Ph.D. diss. Univ. of California at Berkeley, 1993),

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The author of these crimes was compared with Jack the Ripper (el destripador), whose crimes became internationally known in late 1888. Liberal newspaper El Siglo Diez y Nueve called him The mysterious man who repeated in
Mexico the same scenes that Jacques the Ripper [sic, suggesting the French
sources of the journalist] in the London neighborhood of Whitechappel.3
The similarities seemed obvious: the victims were prostitutes in London and
women who worked in the streets in Mexico; all had been attacked at night in
public spaces; all were around 40 years old; all had suffered gruesome wounds.
As with the Mexican murderer, Jack the Ripper was blamed for previous
crimes against prostitutes.4
One of the prevalent hypotheses about the identity of Jack the Ripper,
based on the wounds suffered by his victims, posited that he was a doctor.5
The wounds inicted on the Mexican victims revealed, according to the local
press, that the culprit was a man educated enough to know the fatal results
of a cut in the arteries of the neck. In addition, the murderer of the Consulado
River seemed to have, in the eyes of the press, an uncanny ability to escape the
police. For El Siglo Diez y Nueve, he possessed the fabulous ring of Amasis
which made its owner invisible.6 Even after Guerreros arrest, writers such as
well-known criminologist and journalist Carlos Roumagnac compared him
with Jack the Ripper and other European criminals. There was certain pride in
this comparison: for Mexican elites, it conveyed the progress of the capital,
which brought not only the technology, architecture, and fashion of the most
advanced European countries but also their new forms of crime.7 The murders
51 55; Norman S. Hayner, Criminogenic Zones in Mexico City, American Sociological
Review 11, no. 4 (1946): 428; Salvador Diego-Fernndez, La ciudad de Mjico a fines del siglo
XIX (Mexico City: n.p., 1937), 3; and Pablo Piccato, Urbanistas, Ambulantes, and Mendigos:
The Dispute for Urban Space in Mexico City, 1890 1930, Anuario de Estudios Urbanos 1
(1997). On views of prostitutes, see Rafael Sagredo Baeza, Mara Villa (a) La Chiquita, no.
4002: Un par sito social del porfiriato (Mexico City: Aguilar, Leon y Cal, 1996), chap. 4.
3. El Siglo Diez y Nueve, 16 Dec. 1890, 2. Five prostitutes were found murdered in
Whitechapel and Spitaelds, in London, between August and November of 1888. The
culprit was not identied, but he acquired the nickname Jack the Ripper.
4. Judith Walkowitz, City of Dreadful Delight: Narratives of Sexual Danger in LateVictorian London (Chicago: Univ. of Chicago Press, 1992), 2.
5. Ibid., 4, 196, 210; see also Christopher Frayling, The House that Jack Built: Some
Stereotypes of the Rapist in the History of Popular Culture, in Rape, ed. Sylvana Tomaselli
and Roy Porter (Oxford: Blackwell, 1986), 185.
6. El Siglo Diez y Nueve, 16 Dec. 1890, 2.
7. See Sobre el nmero y clase de presos que debe alojar la Penitenciara de Mxico,
Proyecto de Penitenciara del Distrito Federal, Junta formada por el gob. Ramn

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of London and Mexico City were useful in drawing the moral geography of
modern cities, as they represented the contrast between the world of crime
and vice, and the elegant and civilized city. Both cases also suggested a dangerous reversal of that geography, in the threat posed by devious upper-class men
to working-class women.
Public perceptions of El Chalequero were not limited to these cosmopolitan comparisons. For those who were less sophisticated, El Chalequero
recalled images of brutality in a semirural environment. Two engravings by
Jos Guadalupe Posada (see gures 1 and 2), reproduced in popular leaets,
stressed the cuts in the victims neck. Posada, in a desolate landscape, chose to
portray the killer with a charro hat and a large knife and the victims as defenseless and modest in their attire.8
Perhaps because of the cruelty involved in both murders, the police nally
set out to nd a suspect. In June 1888, shopkeeper Antonio Mayorga identied
Francisco Guerrero as responsible for both crimes and several previous rapes.
Guerrero was arrested a month later and sentenced in December 1890. The
press and public opinion quickly blamed him for up to ten homicides.9
Guerrero proved to be closer to Posadas description than to the newspapers earlier hypotheses, yet less powerful than the image of the engravings.
According to El Siglo Diez y Nueve, the police looked for him among the
social scum, but they were surprised that Neither Guerreros height, build
nor aspect showed that strength and ferocity that should characterize the terri-

Fernndez [1882], Boletn del Archivo General de la Nacin: La Penitenciara de Mxico 5, no.
4 (1981 82): 35. Roumagnac, Crmenes sexuales, 93. Although Roumagnac does not credit
Guerrero with as much fame and as many victims as his European counterparts, he comes
back to the comparison with Jack the Ripper in his Matadores de mujeres, vol 2 of Crmenes
sexuales y pasionales: Estudios de psicologa morbosa (Mexico City: Lib. de Bouret, 1910), 224.
In 1939 Alfonso Quiroz Cuarn mentioned Roumagnac as one of the rst technical
policemen, who died in poverty, and whose contributions to science were still neglected.
See Alfonso Quiroz Cuarn et al., Tendencia y ritmo de la criminalidad en Mxico (Mexico
City: Instituto de Investigaciones Estadsticas, 1939), 129.
8. Moiss Gonzlez Navarro claims that the people saw El Chalequero as a hero,
along Chucho el Roto, in his Historia moderna de Mxico: El porfiriato: La vida social (Mexico
City: Ed. Hermes, 1957), 433. Evidence discussed below indicates otherwise. On the elite
coverage of El Chalequero, see Alberto del Castillo, Entre la moralizacin y el
sensacionalismo: Prensa, poder y criminalidad a nales del siglo XIX en la Ciudad de
Mxico, in Hbitos, normas y escndalo: Prensa, criminalidad y drogas durante el porfiriato
tardo, ed. Ricardo Prez Montfort (Mexico City: Plaza y Valds, 1997), 47 57.
9. Roumagnac, Crmenes sexuales, 91 2; El Siglo Diez y Nueve, 16 Dec. 1890, 2; and La
Voz de Mxico, 20 July 1888, 3.

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Fig. 1. From a drawing by Jos Guadalupe Posada, La prxima ejecucin de Francisco Guerrero (a. El
Chalequero) degollador de mujeres (Mexico City: Imp. A. Vanegas Arroyo, [1890]).

ble degollador; the suspect was one of the many characters with a slightly criminal aspect, but which one can come across every day without causing great
concern.10 Jail records showed he was not too tall (1.57 m), rather lean and
perhaps hunchbacked (see gures 3 and 4). He was born in 1850 in Guadalajara, Jalisco, and claimed to be a shoemaker and painter. He hardly t the
image of a gentleman exploring the underworld to attack lower-class women.
As a young man, he had worked in his fathers butcher shop, where the slaughtering of pigs (not the education, as reported by newspapers) gave him the
knowledge about the effects of degello. During the trial, witness Mara
Navarro declared that she considered Guerrero to be her husband because
they had lived together for 15 years even though he used to come home
late at night, drunk, and with clothes covered with dust and mud.11 The
image of small, married, jacket-wearing Guerrero contrasted with that of con10. El Siglo Diez y Nueve, 16 Dec. 1890, 2.
11. Roumagnac, Matadores de mujeres, 245, 201; idem, Crmenes sexuales, 95; and
Rodrguez Miramn, Requisitoria pronunciada, 38.

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Fig. 2. From a drawing by Jos Guadalupe Posada, Los crmenes del Chalequero: Asesinato de Mucia
Gallardo (Mexico City: Imp. A. Vanegas Arroyo, [1890]).

temporaneous bandits of greater fame, such as Jess Negrete, the Tiger of


Santa Julia, who still spread fear in the countryside around the capital.12
The Trial

Francisco Guerrero, as many other inhabitants of the world of crime,


became well-known during his trial.13 The jury hearings of Guerreros trial
attracted such a crowd that a brigade of soldiers was required to prevent it
from breaking into the courtroom. Underground characters the crme-dela-crme of the lower prostitution of those neighborhoods, in the words of
Roumagnac paraded as victims or witnesses during the audiences.14 However sordid, the spectacle of criminal trials were at the center of a popular public opinion which, instead of the respectable newspapers, relied on word of
12. On Negrete, see Gaceta de Polica, 3 June 1906, 14.
13. The proceedings of Guerreros trial are synthesized in Rodrguez Miramn,
Requisitoria pronunciada; and El Siglo Diez y Nueve, Dec. 1890.
14. Roumagnac, Crmenes sexuales, 92; and El Siglo Diez y Nueve, 15 Dec. 1890, 2.

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Fig. 3. Francisco Guerrero, 1888.


Source: Carlos Roumagnac, Los criminales en Mxico, ensayo de psicologia criminal, por Carlos Roumagnac, sequido de dos casos de hermafrodismo observados por los seores doctores Ricardo Egea
e Ignacio Ocampo (Mexico City: Tip. El Fenix, 1904).

Fig. 4. Francisco Guerrero, 1908


Source: Carlos Roumagnac, Matadores de mujeres, vol. 2 of Crmenes sexuales y pasionales: Estudios de psicologa morbosa (Mexico City: Lib. de Bouret, 1906 10).

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mouth, leaets, and the penny press to convey information. When jury trials
were abrogated in 1929, El Chalequeros case was remembered as one of those
that attracted the greatest interest, along with that of the prostitute Mara
Villa, La Chiquita, sentenced for homicide in 1897.15 Spectators seemed to
relish the drama of interrogations, constructed at the intersection of the elevated discourses of law and science and the lowly impulses of criminals and
their victims.
The testimonies of witnesses conrmed that the accused was, in fact,
responsible for abusing several women in the deserted areas near Peralvillo.
According to his own testimony, he was called El Chalequero because since
long ago he has had the habit of forcing women.16 (In Mexico, A chaleco means
by force.) The nickname served him, more specically, to scare prostitutes.17 It was well-known, even before the discovery of the two corpses in
1887, that other women had previously been found murdered in a similar fashion. According to Roumagnac, Guerreros responsibility for those attacks had
been established by the inhabitants of the area, but nobody dared denounce
him.18 The public voice claimed that he had murdered seven women, slitting
their throats after robbing them. He was also responsible, according to the
prosecutor Alonso Rodrguez Miramn, for the frequent evening robberies
that created fear among the Indians walking the Calzada.19 In 1887 Emilia
Gonzlez, laundress in an upper-class home, was attacked by a man who tried
to rape her. Her shouts attracted other passersby, prompting the escape of the
aggressor, though not before sinking his knife into her body. She died 19 days
later at the hospital, without having identied Guerrero as the attacker. Even
so, the prosecutors accused him of the crime.20
Besides the case of Gonzlez, which was weakened by an autopsy report
that explained her death as the result of natural causes, the prosecutors of the
1888 90 trial made little effort to link Guerrero with earlier murders known
15. Excelsior, 8 Oct. 1929, 1; see Robert Bufngton and Pablo Piccato, Tales of Two
Women: The Narrative Construal of Porrian Reality, The Americas 55, no. 3 (1999).
16. Roumagnac, Matadores de mujeres, 201.
17. Roumagnac, Crmenes sexuales, 96; and Guillermo Coln Snchez, As habla la
delincuencia y otros ms, 2d ed. (Mexico City: Ed. Porra, 1991). In Spain, chaleco
(literally, vest) also means mujer despreciable y sin atractivo. See, Diccionario de la lengua
espaola, 21st ed. (Madrid: Real Academia Espaola, 1992).
18. Roumagnac, Crimenes sexuales, 91.
19. Rodrguez Miramn, Requisitoria pronunciada, 30 31. Roumagnac suggests that
Guerrero was blamed for crimes the police had not been able to solve otherwise. See
Roumagnac, Crmenes sexuales, 93.
20. Rodrguez Miramn, Requisitoria pronunciada, 5 6.

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to the neighbors of the area. The accusation did not focus on specic events,
but merely sought to establish that Guerrero was El Chalequero. In an effort
to deny it, Guerrero explained that his bad reputation came from the fact that
on several occasions he had told the Ro Consulado prostitutes that he was the
feared criminal but only with the goal of inspiring fear and obtaining their
submission.21 Nevertheless, most witnesses identied him as the man who
indeed spread terror among those who lived and worked near the Calzada and
the river. His lengthy record was eloquent: he had been imprisoned eight
times for different offenses. His rst entrance in the books of the Mexico City
jail had occurred in 1878, for assault. Six arrests followed (for theft, battery,
and threats), none lasting more than a month.22 He had already committed
several crimes by 1881, when he threatened Candelaria Mendoza with a knife
and a warning that she would not be the rst woman [he] killed.23
The testimonies against Guerrero suggest that his threats were never
anonymous. In his relationship with the working women of Peralvillo, murder
was only the extreme result of interactions that included sexual abuse and
exploitation. Antonio Mayorga, who rst denounced him, declared that Guerrero was a man who approached the prostitutes . . . outside the Peralvillo
gate, where he cheated them by having intercourse by force and then
robbed them and slit their throat.24 But the victims who survived these attacks
did not dare to accuse him until he was arrested in 1888. Soledad Gonzlez,
for example, declared that Guerrero had wounded and robbed a friend of hers
in 1886; in 1887 he offered her one peso to have carnal relations. She
rejected him, but he took her to a lonely place by the river. After claiming that
he was El Chalequero, Guerrero put four reales in her hand, threatened her
with a knife, and raped her. Then, he took back the four reales plus another
one that she was hiding inside her mouth because it was her only cash, she
explained. Other women, such as Josefa Rodrguez, Camila Snchez, and
Nicolasa Garca, declared that Guerrero had threatened them with different
weapons and had told them that he was El Chalequero, and had stolen clothes
they were about to wash. In sum, Guerrero operated with the full knowledge
that women knew and feared him, and that nobody would dare to accuse him.
Three women had witnessed his attack against Margarita Rosas, but no one
dared to help her or call the police.25 There is no evidence that Guerrero ever
21. Ibid., 12, 40; and Roumagnac, Matadores de mujeres, 207.
22. Rodrguez Miramn, Requisitoria pronunciada, 17.
23. Ibid., 18.
24. Ibid., 10 11.
25. Ibid., 15 16, 22 23, 18-19.

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used violence against a man, and none accused him until Mayorga blamed him
for the murder of Mucia Gallardo.
The crime against Gallardo differed in several ways from previous attacks.
She was, according to several witnesses, and despite Mara Navarros claim,
Guerreros amasia (common-law wife). She also seems to have had a somewhat
higher status than the other victims, who were prostitutes, domestic workers,
or laundresses. In the words of Roumagnac, Mucia ran almost all the famous
and disgusting lupanars of Tepechichilco, and she was also a prostitute.26 Gallardo and Guerrero had been linked in using violence against other women:
together, for example, they had assaulted Josefa Rodrguez to steal from her.27
The night of Gallardos death, several witnesses saw an argument between her
and Guerrero. Concepcin Escamilla tried to leave because Guerrero had hit
her and stolen her reboso previously, but Gallardo convinced her to stay
because she believed that she could control Guerrero. The discussion continued until Mucia slapped Guerrero and deed him to go out and ght, claiming
that she did not fear him even if he was the terror of the women of Santa
Ana. The witnesses saw them take the street, which was lonely and dark,
because it was eight or nine in the evening. A short time later Guerrero came
back, holding in his hand a knife covered with blood. Genovevo Soto confronted him by saying, you have killed Mucia Gallardo, but he did not call
the police. Hours later, Concepcin Escamilla saw Guerrero watching the
corpse of Gallardo being taken out of the river. Guerrero threatened her and
took her to a hotel, where he cried for Mucia and showed her the knife and
other weapons which he never left behind.28 In contrast with other victims,
Gallardo enjoyed some power over Guerrero. Years later, Guerrero confessed
to Roumagnac that Mucia had always harassed him and that, after killing her,
he was satised of not seeing her again.29
The evidence suggests that El Chalequeros attacks were part of a larger
pattern of sexual and economic exploitation in which Mucia was involved. The
victims who spoke out against him at the trial shared many characteristics of
his attacks: sexual abuse and violence was always accompanied by the expropriation of their possessions. Mara de Jess Martnez already knew Guerrero in
1884, when he raped her and took her money. He raped another victim and

26. Roumagnac, Matadores de mujeres, 201.


27. Rodrguez Miramn, Requisitoria pronunciada, 27.
28. Ibid., 10 11; 32 34. Lorenza Urrutia also went to see how the corpse was
recovered, and she saw El Chalequero there.
29. Roumagnac, Matadores de mujeres, 216; and idem, Crmenes sexuales, 99.

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forced her to buy him some pulque.30 It is in this regard that Mayorga accused
Guerrero of cheating the prostitutes.
The association between Guerrero and Mucia Gallardo probably included
the task of forcing petty prostitutes who worked the streets on their own to
seek refuge in a brothel, preferably one of the disgusting lupanars of Tepechichilco controlled by Gallardo. This would also explain why, on the night of
her death, Mucia told Concepcin Escamilla that she should not fear Guerrero while she was around.31 Cut loose from Mucias control, Guerrero was
perceived as a greater threat and was thus denounced to the police.
By pushing women to seek protection, Guerreros violent acts were an
integral part of the business of prostitution in the marginal areas of Mexico
City. As in other areas of the urban labor market during these years of rapid
economic and demographic growth, prostitution adapting to the changing
relationships between workers and their employers, and among workers,
employers and the state. The 1867 Regulation of Prostitution, reformed in
1873, pursued not only hygienic goals but also attempted to consolidate those
relationships. Registered prostitutes had to undergo frequent medical examinations, with the penalty of nes or imprisonment if they avoided them. The
regulation bolstered madams power by adding to their role of employers that
of intermediaries between workers and sanitary authorities. According to
researcher Itzel Delgado, madams were a decisive linkage, particularly for
the control of low-class prostitutes. The Regulation authorized the police
(usually an interested party because of the bribes they collected) to place those
women who failed to comply with the law under the control of a matrona.32
The business was increasingly lucrative by the end of the nineteenth century.
Madams proted because of their role as mediators among prostitutes, authorities, and customers, and also through a relationship of complete subordination with their pupils. Despite the regulation, clandestine prostitution continued to grow through this period, clashing with the interests of madams and
the state. According to Delgado, most independent prostitutes and low-class
brothels were located at the periphery of the city, particularly in the northern
areas. In these cases, less formalized relationships between madams and work-

30. Rodrguez Miramn, Requisitoria pronunciada, 19 20.


31. Roumagnac, Matadores de mujeres, 201.
32. Itzel Delgado, Prostitucin, slis y moralidad sexual en la ciudad de Mxico a
nes del siglo XIX (bachelors thesis, Escuela Nacional de Antropologa e Historia,
Mexico City, 1993), 65, 153 54.

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ers included protection and the establishment of connections with patrons, not
always in the physical context of a brothel.33
Fully identied as El Chalequero, neither Guerreros guilt nor his innocence was the overarching consideration in the judicial and penal proceedings
against him: the fascination of the public for the jury hearings of his trial did
not stem from the question about his fate. As in the case of La Chiquita, and
many other suspects, Guerrero was implicitly condemned before meeting his
jury, and for all practical purposes he lacked legal representation. On the day
of the audience, Guerrero dismissed the two public attorneys who had technically represented him during the previous months, and appointed Adolfo
Dubln. Because Dubln refused, the judge ordered two other lawyers to take
the job although both stated their complete ignorance about the case. At any
rate, the audience went on and, as was the system according to Mexican penal
legislation, the judge ruled over the proceedings and worked as an aggressive
prosecutor, interrogating witnesses and the suspect.34
The entire process was fraught with irregularities. At the beginning of the
process, in 1888, Guerrero had been accused of six robberies, seven rapes, two
batteries, and three homicides.35 Immediately after his arrest, according to the
records, the suspect had confessed to murders committed in places as distant
as the barrio of La Merced, and the eastern San Lzaro and Coyoya plains.
Yet, the fact-nding phase of the trial, preceding the jury hearing, took a year
and a half to complete. In front of the jury, Guerrero declared that he had
signed those confessions because the police had hung him from his thumbs.
To counter the claim, the judge exhibited the signature by those statements
33. Ibid., 60, 72. See also Luis Lara y Pardo, La prostitucin en Mxico (Mexico City:
Vda. De C. Bouret, 1908); the best study for the postrevolutionary period is Katherine
Elaine Bliss, Prostitution, Revolution and Social Reform in Mexico City, 1918 1940
(Ph. D. diss., Univ. of Chicago, 1996), 41.
34. El Siglo Diez y Nueve, 15 Dec. 1890, 2. On the jury against Mara Villa, see El Foro,
23 Nov. 1897, 3; 15 Feb. 1898, 1; 5 Apr. 1898, 247; 6 Apr. 1898, 251; 12 Apr. 1898, 259; 13
Apr. 1898, 263; and 20 Apr. 1898, 279, 283. On the jury, see Demetrio Sodi, El jurado en
Mxico: Estudios sobre el jurado popular (Mexico City: Imp. de la Secretria de Fomento,
1909). Public attorneys often failed to show up for the audiences involving their
defendants. See Juez Sexto Correccional to Secretario de Justicia, Mexico City, 27 Oct.
1910, Archivo General de la Nacin (hereafter AGN), Fondo Secretara de Justicia, vol.
716, exp. 895. See also Jefe de Defensores de Ocio en el Fuero Comn, Jos B. Robles to
Jefe del Departamento del Distrito Federal, 7 Oct. 1929, AGN, Fondo Portes Gil, 3/533,
17249; Bonifacio y Toms Ordez to President Madero, 17 Feb. 1912, AGN, Fondo
Francisco I. Madero, vol. 70, exp. 90.
35. Rodrguez Miramn, Requisitoria pronunciada, 48.

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and argued that they could not have been made by someone who had just suffered such torment.36 After that, Guerrero remained silent during the rest of
the trial. Prosecutors and the judge were not very concerned about mounting a
awless case from the legal point of view, to the extreme that a namesake of
Margarita Rosas, turned out to be a different Margarita Rosas from the one
who had been attacked and had testied in the previous investigation, showed
up at the hearing. The judge ordered the jury not to interpret this as a consequence of carelessness since most women called to the witness stand lacked a
xed address and name as they belonged to the lowliest kind of prostitution thus any mistake that the police could have made when bringing them
to testify was excusable.37
One of the main witnesses against Guerrero was his relative Jos Montoya,
who Guerrero accused of committing some of the murders that he had been
blamed for. Montoya was interned at the San Hiplito Hospital for mental illness and, according to the reporters of the jury, presented all the abnormal
traits that characterize the insane. Montoya himself accepted that he was sick
of his stomach, of his sight, and his brain and that he felt that someone pulled
his hair . . . and gnawed at his eyes. A physician called by the judge declared
that Montoyas mental state was the result of alcoholism. Nevertheless, Montoyas statements seemed more credible than those of Guerreros to the judge,
and the former was acquitted of the accusations made by the latter.38
There was ample evidence against Guerrero in the death of Mucia Gallardo. In the case of Francisca N., La Chchara, the second corpse found in
the river, the only evidence against him was the similarity of her wounds to
those observed in Mucias body.39 In June 1892, President Porrio Daz commuted Guerreros sentence to 20 years. Although pardons were common
under Daz, they were not the rule for those who killed women. He was
released after serving twelve years at the San Juan de Ula fortress in Veracruz.40 Even after his second trial for homicide, in 1908, Guerrero continued
36. El Siglo Diez y Nueve, 16 Dec. 1890, 2; Rodrguez Miramn, Requisitoria
pronunciada, 12, 40 41. The use of torture and violence against the accused by the police
seems to have been common. See Hijo del Ahuizote, 26 Sep. 1897, 758; and 28 Nov. 1897.
See also the Archivo Judicial de la Ciudad de Mxico, Reclusorio Sur (hereafter, AJ, RS),
23196, criminal association and robbery, 1930.
37. El Siglo Diez y Nueve, 18 Dec. 1890, 2.
38. Ibid., 17 Dec. 1890, 2; and Roumagnac, Crmenes sexuales, 94.
39. Roumagnac, Matadores de mujeres, 207; and Rodrguez Miramn, Requisitoria
pronunciada, 35. The jury also found him guilty of rape, battery and theft. See Roumagnac,
Crmenes sexuales, 97; and Rodrguez Miramn, Requisitoria pronunciada, 14.
40. Roumagnac, Crmenes sexuales, 97, and Matadores de mujeres, 97. See also Gaceta de
Polica, 25 Feb. 1906, 7.

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to deny his involvement in the crimes he had been accused of, except for that
of Gallardo.41
Sexual Crimes and the Judicial System

If it was common for most Mexican suspects to be denied due process, why
was Guerrero convicted of only two murders and why did Daz commute his
sentence from execution to 12 years in prison? Why did it take so long for him
to be arrested, and why were most witnesses against him ( prostitutes and other
working women) afraid and reluctant to talk, even during the jury? Answers to
these questions begin to emerge when we look at contemporaneous attitudes
of the police and judicial system toward victims of sexual abuse.
Women did not accuse Guerrero of rape because they all thought that he
would be acquitted by a jury, and that policemen and judges would only add to
their humiliation, mainly because they were prostitutes, domestic workers, or
peddlers. Several cases in the Federal Districts judicial archives conrm the
negative attitudes faced by all victims of domestic violence and sexual abuse,
regardless of their social background, when they dared to accuse their attackers. The premise of judges and juries was that any woman who was willing to
ventilate a matter concerning her honor lacked shame and thus could not be
trusted. There were several ways in which these prejudices emerged through
the judicial process. First, the denitions of rape, statutory rape, and abduction
in the penal code allowed for several interpretations to the benet of the
accused. Rape, according to the code, only took place when physical violence
had been used.42 Many cases, including those in which the victim or her parents had denounced a rape, were downgraded by judges to statutory rape, or
simply abduction, which were not dened by violence but by the fact that the
suspect had used false promises and deception. The accused usually claimed
that the victim had consented to having intercourse. In most cases, in accordance with the penal code, the case was dismissed when the accused promised
to marry the victim, even though the processes did not include verifying that
41. Roumagnac, Matadores de mujeres, 206.
42. Rape was punished with six years of prison if the victim was older than 14 years
old, and 10 if he or she was younger. See Antonio Martnez de Castro, Cdigo penal para el
Distrito Federal y territorio de la Baja-California sobre delitos del fuero comn y para toda la
Repblica Mexicana sobre delitos contra la Federacin: Edicin correcta, sacada de la oficial,
precedida de la Exposicin de motivos dirigida al Supremo Gobierno por el C. Lic. . . . Presidente de
la comisin encargada de formar el Cdigo [hereafter CP] (Veracruz and Puebla: La
Ilustracin, 1891), Arts. 795, 797, 793, 794, 808, 809, 812, 799, 800, 801, 813.

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the promise was fullled. In the few cases in which a trial reached the jury
phase, the accused were usually acquitted.43
Medical procedures played an important role against victims. It was generally believed that, because of the nature of the female body, sexual crimes
were difcult to prove.44 Judges did not think that forced penetration
amounted to violence; thus, for a rape accusation to be supported, forensic
doctors had to examine the victim and nd clear signs of physical violence in
different areas of her body. The testimony of the victim was not enough to
establish that a rape had been committed, and for this reason, many cases were
dismissed. A medical examination was required to establish the age of the victim. The premise was that rape could otherwise be easily simulated, or provoked by the victim, and that women could easily resist it if they wished to.45
The examination was in itself a painful and humiliating procedure, similar to
that undergone by registered prostitutes. Many victims, such as Asuncin
Gmez, in 1921, had to go through two examinations. In her case, the second
established that she had not been raped and the charges against her attacker
were dismissed. Such a result was more likely when victims hesitated several
days, and understandably so, before pressing charges.46 Even when female victims complained about offenses other than rape, they could be subject to medical examinations at police stations. Students of medicine usually occupied the
place of physicians at these stations and even gendarmes advised victims against
undergoing the examination. In sum, the benets of the procedure were not
evident, and some women resisted it forcefully. In 1929 the government of the
city ordered that no woman be examined at police stations unless she presented serious wounds. The goal was to end the disgraceful examinations

43. See for example, AJ, RS, 1067903, statutory rape, 1921; AJ, RS, 19389, theft, 1927;
AJ, RS, 1051597, statutory rape, 1921; AJ, RS, 596568, statutory rape, 1908; AJ, RS, 19393,
abduction, 1927; AJ, RS, 781387, battery and rape, 1913. A detailed discussion of these
cases in Pablo Piccato, City of Suspects: Crime in Mexico City, 1900 1931 (Durham: Duke
Univ. Press, forthcoming), chap. 5.
44. According to Lic. Emilio Rovirosa Andrade, the physical evidence for statutory
rape is very difcult to establish, but essential to identify the culprit. In Secretara de
Justicia, Comisin Revisora del Cdigo Penal, Trabajos de revisin del Cdigo Penal: Proyecto
de reformas y exposicin de motivos, 4 vols. (Mexico City: Tip. de la Ocina Impresora de
Estampollas Palacio Nacional, 1912), 1:90.
45. Cesare Lombroso, Lezioni di medicina legale, raccolte da Virgilio Rossi (Torino:
Fratelli Bocca, 1886).
46. AJ, RS, 1067903, statutory rape, 1921. There is a detailed description of the
examination of rape victims in Lombroso, Lezioni di medicina legale, esp. chap. 26.

136
126

1897
1900

3
0

Sentenced
26
50

Accused
1
2

Sentenced

Statutory Rape

43
43

Accused
0
0

Sentenced

Abduction and Statutory Rape

23
30

Accused

7
4

Sentenced

Rape

6:13 PM

Sources: Anuario estadstico de la Repblica Mexicana, 1898 (Mexico City: Fomento, 1899); and Cuadros estadsticos e informe del Procurador de Justicia, 1900
(Mexico City: La Europea, 1903).

Accused

Year

Abduction

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inicted on them, and the shame that followed when many persons who happen to be at the station learn about the results.47
As a consequence, the chances of obtaining a guilty verdict after an accusation of sexual abuse were smaller than for other crimes. Table 1 shows that,
in 1897 and 1900, only one guilty verdict was obtained for every ve accusations of rape, 25 of statutory rape, or 87 of abduction. An improvement can be
perceived in the data from the 1930s, presented in table 2: one guilty for every
four accused of rape and statutory rape; one for every three in rape. Table 3
shows that in other crimes the proportion of guilty verdicts was higher. The
rate would be even lower if we compared guilty verdicts to the total number of
crimes, that is, including those that were not denounced. From a sample of 22
cases of sexual violence in Mexico City that took place between 1900 and 1931,
15 cases concluded when charges were dropped a fact not reected by ofcial statistics. In other words, 68 percent of the cases involving sexual violence
concluded this way, against 32 percent for the total of 223 cases of different
crimes examined as part of a larger research project about crime. In view of the
inefcacy and cost involved in judicial action, many victims refused to even
bring up charges, thus making these ratios more biased.48
The number of arrests and convictions for rape diminished after 1871,
even when data are normalized to population growth (see table 4). The
decrease may be explained as a result of an actual reduction in the number of
crimes committed. An alternative explanation, supported by El Chalequeros
case, is that judicial and police interest in sexual offenses was diminishing,
while the number of actual crimes may have remained stable. When jurist and
criminologist Miguel Macedo compiled an extensive survey of the opinions of
lawyers about the reforms needed by the penal code in the late 1900s, no
major reforms to the articles on rape were deemed necessary.49

47. Exclsior, 17 Oct. 1929, 1. For resistance to the procedure, AJ, RS, 19393,
abduction, 1927.
48. See Piccato, City of Suspects, 126, 293n. 66.
49. Jurists proposed only that the law be more explicit in stating that statutory rape
would not be prosecuted unless a complaint by the victim or her relative was made, and
suggested an increase in the penalty of homicide caused by rape, from 12 to 16 years. See
Secretara de Justicia, Trabajos de revisin del cdigo penal, 4:165, 696, and for the new
proposed penalties, 2:172, 177, and 4:166. The reforms proposed by Macedo and the
committee were not adopted. The 1931 Penal Code maintained the punishment of six years
for rape. See Cdigo penal para el distrito y territorios federales y para toda la repblica en
materia de fuero federal (Mexico City: Botas, 1938), Art. 266.

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Table 2: Accused and Sentenced for Sexual Crimes, Federal District,


19371939
Abduction y Statutory Rape

Rape

Year

Accused

Sentenced

Accused

Sentenced

1937
1938
1939

229
305
217

49
54
65

53
104
98

24
28
37

Source: Anuario Estadstico de los Estados Unidos Mexicanos, 1940 (Mexico City: Secretara de
Economa, 1942).

Table 3: Conviction Rate, by Crime, Federal District, 1900, 1939.


Crime
Theft
Battery
Murder
Rape
All crimes

Rate (%)
41.73
33.07
53.85
32.03
36.61

Sources: Ministerio Pblico del Distrito y Territorios Federales, Cuadros estadsticos e informe
del Procurador de Justicia concernientes a la criminalidad en el Distrito Federal y territorios (Mexico
City: La Europea, 1900); and Anuario Estadstico de la Repblica Mexicana, and 1940.

Table 4: Accused and Sentenced for Rape Federal District


Period
Accused

Sentenced

Per 100,000

1885 95
1897, 1900
1937 39

15.04
11.71
4.84

1871 85
1897 09
1916 19
1937 39

6.75
1.42
1.05
1.69

Note: Data for 188595 applies only to Mexico City.


Sources: Estadstica del ramo criminal en la repblica Mexicana (Mexico City: Fomento,
1890); Antonio Peael, Anuario estadstico de la Repblica Mexicana (Mexico City: Fomento,
1897); Anuario Estadstico de la Repblica Mexicana, 1898; Cuadros estadsticos e infome del
Procurador de Justicia, 1900; Procuradura General de Justicia del Distrito y Territorios
Federales, Seccin de Estadstica, Estadstica de la penalidad habida en los juzgados del fuero
comn del distrito y territorios federales durante los aos de 1916 a 1920 (Mexico City: Talleres
Grcos de la Nacin, 1923); and Anuario estadstico de los Estados Unidos Mexicanos, 1940.

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Science and the Normalization of Sexual Violence

The two trials against Guerrero gave specialists an opportunity to examine his
behavior from a scientic point of view. The extreme violence of the crimes
invited a psychopathological explanation, rather than one centered on moral
considerations. However, scientists agreed in dening El Chalequero as a judicial and penal problem, not a medical one. The thought was comforting: he
might represent an interesting case for science, but he was hardly a problem as
a criminal.
In the rst trial, Guerreros mental sanity was at issue. The judge asked
two forensic doctors whether the suspects behavior was a consequence of his
hallucinations. The penal code reduced and even eliminated punishment for
the mentally ill on the premise that sanity and insanity were clearly distinguishable states, two personalities of the same individual without intermediate
states.50 Questioned by Guerreros lawyer, the doctors recognized that it was
not possible to identify insanity at rst sight, although they insisted that
some mental diseases irresistibly impelled the patient to commit crimes. In
their opinion, however, these diseases did not limit Guerreros penal responsibility, and as a consequence the judge denied the defense lawyers request to
consider his mental health as a mitigating circumstance.51
The issue of the suspects responsibility was also raised in the second trial
in 1908, although by this time the strength of criminological arguments had
become greater than that of medicine itself. Guerreros attorneys requested
the opinion of Carlos Roumagnac, Francisco Martnez Baca (one of the earliest practitioners of craniometry in the country), and physician Miguel Lasso
de la Vega.52 The reports concluded that Guerrero was responsible for his acts.
Reecting the broad ambitions of positivist criminology, Martnez Baca and
Roumagnac went to greater lengths to ascertain what kind of criminal pathology he exemplied best. At the same time, they also expressed the eclectic
50. CP 1871, Art. 42. For a criticism of the Mexican legislation, see Rafael de Zayas
Enrquez, Fisiologa del crimen: Estudio jurdico-sociolgico, 2 vols. (Veracruz: Imp. de R. de
Zayas, 1885), 1:19.
51. El Siglo Diez y Nueve, 17 Dec. 1890, 2.
52. See Francisco Martnez Baca y Manuel Vergara, Estudios de antropologa criminal:
Memoria, que por disposicin del superior gobierno del estado de Puebla presentan, para concurrir
la Exposicin de Chicago, los doctores Francisco Martnez Baca y Manuel Vergara (Puebla:
Benjamn Lara, 1892); Francisco Martnez Baca, Los tatuajes: Estudio psicolgico y mdico-legal
en delincuentes y militares (Puebla: Ocina Impresora del Timbre, 1899); and Constancio
Bernaldo de Quirs, Modern Theories of Criminality, trans. Alfonso de Salvio (Boston: Little,
Brown and Co., 1911), 120 21.

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character of the discipline. Martnez Baca, on the one hand, performed a study
of the degenerative characteristics of the suspect. He focused on the
anatomical data and stressed the strictly physical and hereditary factors of El
Chalequeros behavior. Roumagnac, on the other hand, elaborated on the suspects anthropological characteristics and emphasized psychosocial factors.53
This division referred to the available explanatory paradigms within criminology: one that emphasized hereditary factors and another that stressed the
inuence of the environment associated with the Italian and French schools
of criminology, respectively.54
Roumagnacs report, however, is a clear example of Mexican criminologists taste for explanations that accumulated external and internal factors
without establishing a causal hierarchy. Guerrero was not mentally ill, but the
logical consequence of multiple concurrent factors. He was the eleventh son
among 14 siblings, from a couple of second cousins who lived in common-law
marriage. His father was an alcoholic of very bad temper and suffered from
seizures; his mother also had a violent character, the product of degenerative
causes in her ancestors. Several of his uncles were also alcoholics. Guerrero
had six children who also demonstrated the hereditary nature of criminality:
one died as a result of a ght; another (a female) lived in common-law marriage; and yet another drank frequently. During his childhood, Guerrero was
beaten by his mother, suffered from several illnesses and a concussion that
fractured his skull, probably the cause of his frequent headaches and nightmares. He was not an epileptic, however. Roumagnac also listed the features of
Guerreros early life in Guadalajara that explained his criminal behavior. He
worked at a butcher shop, where he learned, besides the consequences of slitting throats, to have intercourse with women who patronized the store. When
he was 20 years old, he moved to Mexico City with Mara Navarro and
behaved well at the beginning. But, explained Roumagnac, his new friends
prompted him to frequent pulqueras and brothels where the germ of alcoholism, planted by the father, developed quickly and led to his crimes.55
By contrast, Roumagnac found nothing abnormal about Guerreros sexual life even though the suspect confessed to the criminologist his taste for
minors who were virgins, for elderly women, for prostitutes, and for any
women who seemed available to satisfy his need. In addition to the violence
53. Roumagnac, Matadores de mujeres, 182 83.
54. See Robert Bufngton, Criminal and Citizen in Modern Mexico (Lincoln: Univ. of
Nebraska Press, 2000); and Pablo Piccato, La construccin de una perspectiva cientca:
Miradas porrianas a la criminalidad, Historia Mexicana 47, no. 1 (1997).
55. Roumagnac, Matadores de mujeres, 185 189, 191, 193.

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that he always added to sexual intercourse, Guerrero confessed to Roumagnac


that he liked to bite women, in one case severing part of the victims nose.
Nevertheless, the key datum to demonstrate Guerreros normalcy was, for
Roumagnac, the fact that he did not masturbate and had not committed acts
against nature (that is, homosexual acts).56 Roumagnac also stated that his
subject was not a sadist either, as violence was not part of sexual pleasure for
him. Biting the victims during intercourse could not make him a sadist, reasoned Roumagnac, for who, among men, could then be excluded from the
sadistic family? Regarding the rapes of which El Chalequero had been
accused, Roumagnac dismissed them explaining that rape did not amount to
perverse behavior. A better explanation was provided by the suspect himself:
the victims had wounded his self-esteem as a macho.57
The rst consequence of this explanation was to place Guerrero squarely
in the criminal sphere as opposed to that of medicine. Roumagnac classied Guerrero as a born criminal, characterized not by the sexual nature of
his attacks but by the somatic and degenerative traits he shared with other
criminals.58 In this he coincided with the observations of Dr. Martnez Baca
and Dr. Lasso de la Vega, whose anatomical examination established Guerreros degenerative characteristics as a criminal, demonstrated by the form of
his receding forehead, his ears, his ape-like hands and other atavistic traits.59
Guerrero, therefore, could be punished because he was not insane.
By dening Guerrero as an exclusively criminal phenomenon, Mexican
specialists echoed positivist criminologys broad claims about the reach of punishment over all deviant behaviors. In his 1899 study of Vacher, leventreur
(the disembowella, or, in Spanish, el destripador), French criminologist Alexandre Lacassagne had arrived at a similar conclusion: even though the suspect
had been conned to a mental asylum and showed clear signs of persecutory
delirium until 1894, the sadistic crimes he committed (which included biting
his victims ears) between that year and 1897 were the work of a monstrous
criminal, not that of an insane person.60 Not that criminology lacked the conceptual tools to deal with mental disease among the factors of crime. Alienated were the rst category in Italian criminologist Enrico Ferris classica56. Ibid., 198 200.
57. Ibid., 221 26.
58. Ibid., 231.
59. Ibid., 233 36.
60. Alexandre Lacassagne ed., Vacher leventreur et les crimes sadiques (Lyon: A. Storck,
1899), 5, 8. Vacher confessed to killing eleven adolescents, young women and an elderly
woman.

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tion of criminals in La sociologic criminelle, which Roumagnac often referred to.


Against criticisms to the rst editions of his study that accused him of encroaching on the sphere of other disciplines, Ferri responded in the preface of the
third French edition, in 1893, that the insane criminal was responsible, and
contrasted the social responsibility of these criminals with the metaphysical moral responsibility which was the premise of classical penology. Psychiatrists could study criminals if they wished, stated Ferri, but it was criminologists who had to deal with the natural history of the criminal man and to
propose the measures to be taken from the social point of view.61 The reports
on Guerrero reected the strong inuence of the Italian school and the relative weakness of medicine in Mexican criminal processes of the period, particularly in comparison with France and Argentina. As in the case of Albert
Soleilland, who raped a minor in Paris in 1907, the popular reaction of disgust
against the crimes of El Chalequero made it harder to use medicine (still a
privilege for many) to explain his behavior and reduce his punishment.62
Criminologys authority to deal with gruesome cases came from its ability
to intersect with a wider audiences interest for deviance. Roumagnacs books
on the world of crime attracted readers outside the circles of criminologists
and penalists. Roumagnac himself was associated with the mundane spheres of
criminalistics and journalism rather than academia.63 Crmenes sexuales y pasionales, which Roumagnac published in 1906, and Matadores de Mujeres, from
1910, reected his readers fascination with sex and crime. Modern international science only validated this attraction. Roumagnac cited many foreign
authors and criminal classications in the introduction to Los criminales en
Mxico, published in 1904 and reprinted in 1912. In the introduction to
Crmenes sexuales y pasionales, he listed several cases of famous sadists, including
Jack the Ripper, as the framework to understand Mexican criminals. Yet, he
61. Enrico Ferri, La Sociologie Criminelle, 3d ed. (Paris: Arthur Rousseau, 1893), 100.
62. Soleilland also avoided the death penalty and nished in a penal colony, more
remembered as a symbol of judicial leniency than as a paragon of ferocity. In Robert A.
Nye, Crime, Madness, and Politics in Modern France: The Medical Concept of National Decline
(Princeton: Princeton Univ. Press, 1984), 194 96. For Argentina, see Jos Ingenieros,
Patologa de las funciones psicosexuales. Nueva clasicacin gentica, Archivos de
Psiquiatra y Criminologa, 9 (1910). I owe this reference to Julia Rodrguez.
63. For an assessment of Roumagnacs inuence, see Javier MacGregor Campuzano,
Historiografa sobre criminalidad y sistema penitenciario, Secuencia: Revista de Historia y
Ciencias Sociales 22 (1992); and Bufngton, Criminal and Citizen, chaps. 2, 3. See also Elisa
Speckman, Crimen y castigo: Legislacin penal, interpretaciones de la criminalidad y
administracin de justicia: Ciudad de Mxico 1872 1910 (Ph.D. diss., El Colegio de
Mxico, 1999), esp. chap. 5.

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considered that Mexico was still remote from such dreadful renement of
murder and lust as found in other nations.64 The cosmopolitan and scientic
fascination with sexual crimes seemed to require that Mexican cases be denied
the higher status of their European counterparts.
Criminological discourse, both in Mexico and abroad, did not ignore patterns of male violence against women, but it seemed to be less useful in
explaining El Chalequero. Most classications did refer to passion criminals
in positive terms, as a kind of criminal dened by the exceptionality of the
criminal act, a result of a rage but not premeditation. Even though passion
criminals victimized their spouses or lovers, they were not dened by the sexual content of their deeds. According to the father of Italian criminology,
Cesare Lombroso, the criminal of passion was different from common offenders because he was urged to violate the law by a pure spirit of altruism.65
They were not proper criminals: their facial traits were fair and they acted in
response to legitimate causes.66 Roumagnac, who adhered to Lombrosos basic
ideas, despite (or perhaps because of) his own eclecticism, stated that Guerrero
clearly was not a passion criminal, as he has never been moved by love.67
Criminological classications, however, overlooked the sexual aspects of
criminals behavior. The main distinction within these classications, established since Lombrosos early proposals, was that between occasional or permanent criminals. Greater precision was gained by distinguishing the latter
according to the dominant factors over their personality (genetic, environmental, emotional). None of these categories applied exclusively to a specic
crime, as the criminal, rather than the crime, was the object for criminologists. Thus, the most inuential classications made no reference to sexual
crime as a species or taxonomic criterion.68 For example, Jos Ingenieros, an
internationally known criminologist from Argentina, dealt with violent sexual
deviants as psychopaths, and did not include them in his own classication.69
The place for sexual crimes or criminals varied according to different criteria.
64. Roumagnac, Crmenes sexuales, 19.
65. Cesare Lombroso, Crime Its Causes and Remedies, trans. Henry P. Horton (Boston:
Little, Brown and Co., 1911), 256; see also Cesare Lombroso, Delinquente epilettico, dimpeto,
pazzo e criminaloide, vol. 2 of Luomo delinquente, in rapporto allantropologia, alla
giurisprudenza ed alle discipline carcerarie (Torino: Fratelli Bocca, 1889), 238.
66. Cesare Lombroso, Delitti di libidine, 2d ed. (Torino: Fratelli Bocca, 1886), 20.
67. Roumagnac, Matadores de mujeres, 221.
68. See for example Ferri, La sociologie criminelle, 80 98, 120 28.
69. Ingenieros, Patologa de las funciones psicosexuales; and Lila Caimari, email
message to the author, 16 Aug. 1999.

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In a treaty on forensic medicine, Lombroso discussed rape in the same chapter


as pederasty, impotence, sterility and hermafroditism as a disease rather
than a crime.70 In the large synthesis of his contribution to criminology, he
linked sexual crimes with the diseases mentioned above and with hydrophobia,
senility and others.71
Lombrosos treatment of sexual crimes was not limited to a medical perspective. He treated sexual crimes separately, in a short volume (Delitti dei
libidine), but did not provide sexual criminals a separate place in his taxonomy.
In a general work, for example, he explained that some sexual crimes could be
attributed to congenital tendencies but another part, and this the greater,
comes under the category of occasional crimes due to the inuence of the
comparative barbarism of the country districts, and to passions which have no
other outlet, on account of the absence of prostitution and the difculty of
marriage.72 In Delitti dei libidine, he drifted from biological determinism
toward a mix of moral and historical explanations, and linked immoral behavior to primitivism. While intercourse did not offend primitives, prostitution
could be more common among some peoples than marriage. Even though
anatomical and behavioral atavisms played a central role in the Italian schools
understanding of contemporary criminals, rape seemed justiable when found
amid primitive cultures. Rape and incest, argued Lombroso, contributed to
contemporary monogamy, as they made possible the gradual identication of
women with property.73 Other writers agreed with this general interpretation:
Gabriel Tarde explained the repeated crimes committed by Vacher as a consequence of the increasing mobility and urbanization of contemporary France.74
In the perspective of Jos Ingenieros, sexual emotions were at the origins of
contemporary love.75 Rape, in other words, was part of progress.
Yet gross cases of rape and other forms of violence begged for an explanation. Lombroso acknowledged that a few sexual criminals of congenital tendencies were clearly identiable by their high degree of recidivism, the anomalous objects of their desire (children and elderly women, which would not
excite normal men), and by the useless violence which accompanied their
acts and often replaced them.76 Exceptional murderers, such as the Spanish
70. See the Lombroso, Lezioni di medicina legale, chap. 26.
71. Lombroso, Delinquente epilettico, 238.
72. Idem, Crime Its Causes and Remedies, 256.
73. Lombroso, Delitti di libidine, 3 5, 8, 11, 16.
74. G. Tarde, Les transformations de limpunit, in Vacher leventreur et les crimes
sadiques, 180 81.
75. Ingenieros, Patologa de las funciones psicosexuales, 4.
76. Lombroso, Lezioni di medicina legale, 360.

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Fig. 5. Sexual Criminal


Source: Cesare Lombroso, Delitti di libidine, 2d ed. ( Torino: Fratelli Bocca, 1886).

Sacamantecas reected, in Lombrosos view, that the behavior of savage


tribes could emerge in the middle of European civilization.77 Their crania
were clearly different, and their faces were excessively feminine.78 (See gure
5.)
Genetic, historical, and moral perspectives coincided in Lombrosos complicated view of sexual criminals. For the discipline at large, this resulted in the
lack of clear criteria to see them as a subspecies of the criminal. In Mexico,
Rafael de Zayas Enrquez noted in 1885 that jurists failed to distinguish the
diversity of pathological behaviors that psychiatrists ( presumably including, at
the time, criminologists) could classify as different stages of lucid insanity:
nymphomaniacs, satyrs, erotmanos and the jealous.79 In 1910 Jos Ingenieros noted the lack of an adequate classication of sexual anomalies, includ77. Lombroso, Delitti di libidine, 37 38.
78. Lombroso, Lezioni di medicina legale, 360.
79. Zayas Enrquez, Fisiologa del crimen, 103.

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Fig. 6. A Victim of Vacher


Source: Alexandre Lacassagne, Vacher leventreur et les crimes sadiques (Lyon: Stork, 1899).

ing rape and other crimes.80 The reason behind this partial blindness of
science was the widely shared belief, embraced by those who analyzed El
Chalequero, that the normal and abnormal were hard to distinguish regarding
sexual behavior. Ingenieros dened the goal of sexual activity as the reproduction of the species, but acknowledged that many practices were morbid examples of behavior which lacked such a goal.81 Figure 6, depicting one of Vachers
victims, synthesizes the perspective of science toward the victims of sexual violence and offers a stark contrast with Posadas views: the image lacks detail, the
surroundings are barely sketched, and only the wounds represent evidence.
Yet the sexual elements of El Chalequeros clearly anomalous behavior
could not easily be denied as it was not easy for Lombroso to deny the existence of sexual criminals. It is a meaningful paradox that the report on Francisco Guerreros 1908 trial which proved to be most receptive to the sexual
nature of his acts was the one produced by a physician. In his contribution, Dr.
Lasso de la Vega stated that Guerrero was a sadist, because all his victims were
women, and that he was also a passion criminal, because his crimes resulted
from the frustration caused by his loss of control over women. A close look at
Guerreros interactions with his victims challenged criminal classications, as
none of them accounted for the mix of exploitation and sexual violence that
characterized his crimes. With a different perspective, Lasso de la Vega suggested, an unsettling conclusion could come from the case:
80. Ingenieros, Patologa de las funciones psicosexuales, 4.
81. Ibid., 9.

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Many facts that might seem to be unexplainable for those who are not
close to Guerreros environment, may not be so; the similarity in the
aggression against females, the easy provocation of their insults . . . are
details and patterns that commonly characterize the lowly prostitution,
becoming almost common and vulgar facts because of the inuence of
habit, and what we have called the normality of abnormality.82
While the reports by criminologists denied the victimization of women as
the dening element in Guerreros crimes, Lasso de la Vega stated what everyone knew but few dared to say: practices that the law dened as crimes were
common among certain groups of the urban lower class, and seldom became
the object of prosecution.
Conclusions

Jack the Rippers story is one of mystery, but that of El Chalequero is one of
impunity. The London murderer was never brought to justice. Even though
the prison in San Juan de Ula, where Guerrero was sent in 1892, was a fearsome prospect, it did not imply the end of his sexual life. Working as a porter
at the prison, he saved enough money to pay for prostitutes.83 After 12 years,
he was released on parole. He did not take too long to restart his criminal
activities. In 1904 he was sentenced to two months of arrest for battery; in
1905 he was released after being accused of theft, and shortly thereafter he was
arrested again for sleeping drunk in the street. A murder similar to those of
1887 occurred in 1908. The victim was never identied, although her age was
estimated at eighty years. Her throat had been slit, near the Consulado River.
The police immediately suspected Guerrero. He was arrested and confessed to
the murder (to recant later), explaining that the woman had doubted his virility after they had intercourse by the river. Dirty, poor, and sick, he was now
only a shadow of his fearsome past. He was sentenced to death again, but he
died of a stroke on 6 November 1910.84
82. Roumagnac, Matadores de mujeres, 239 44.
83. Ibid., 198. On sexual commerce in prisons, see Jos Almaraz, Regmenes
penitenciarios, 83; and Ral Gonzlez, Algunos aspectos del problema sexual en las
prisiones, 300 1 in Memoria del primer congreso nacional penitenciario celebrado en la Ciudad
de Mxico del 24 de noviembre al 3 de diciembre de 1932 (Mexico City: Talleres Grcos de la
Nacin, 1935).
84. Carlos Roumagnac, Elementos de polica cientfica: Obra de texto para la Escuela
Cientfica de Polica de Mxico (Mexico City: Botas, 1923), 150 151; and idem. Crmenes
sexuales, 180 81, 261.

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The crimes of Whitechappel crystallized the fears and threats that limited
the spaces and times safely available for women in large cities. The crimes of
Peralvillo had a similar impact, and undoubtedly contributed to decrease the
income and the autonomy that women could establish beyond the protection
of their men and homes. Impunity dened El Chalequeros crimes because
they could be construed as normal phenomena among the urban lower classes,
and because, as with other sexual crimes, punishment was a remote possibility
for them.
It was precisely the sexual nature of El Chalequeros attacks that explains
his impunity. While sexual criminals were difcult to classify, prostitutes
themselves were pathological if not quite criminal.85 And it was the criminal,
not the crime, who concerned scientists: Francisco Guerreros deeds, as those
of other men studied by specialists in other countries, were construed as rather
benign consequences of human evolution and masculinity. Sexual violence
needed not become a priority for criminology or penology. Considering El
Chalequero simply as criminal, rather than insane, meant divorcing violence
from sexuality. By denying the sexual nature of his attacks, and thus their gendered character, criminology helped deny their social impact obvious otherwise for anyone who walked by the northern suburbs of Mexico City. In this
regard, Mexican specialists were more successful than British detectives: the
legacy of El Chalequero has been forgotten, while Jack the Ripper remains an
icon, however ambivalent his meaning. In contemporary Mexico, it is still easy
to neglect the connections between crime and sexuality, and accept the normalcy of rape and other forms of violence against women.86
The case of El Chalequero reveals the linkages between Mexico Citys
world of crime and science. El Chalequero was easier to understand as a
criminal phenomenon than a social problem. For those who saw urban danger from a distance, he belonged to areas of the city where deviance was the
norm. His violence contributed to the process of bringing prostitutes under
85. See Lombroso, Delinquente epilettico, 238; and Lara y Pardo, La prostitucin en
Mxico, 120 21.
86. Between 1995 and 1997 ten prostitutes were murdered in the barrio of La
Merced, in Mexico City. See Vindicacin de prostitutas en el barrio de la soledad, La
Jornada, 1 Nov. 1998. The October 1999 reforms to penal legislation established rape
victims right to anonymity while identifying the suspect. It permitted the victims to
have a physician of his/her sex to perform medical examinations. See Revista Proceso
1194 (1999); http://www.proceso.com.mx/protexto/1194/1194n15html; and Cdigo de
Procedimientos Penales para el Distrito Federal, Arts. 9 bis and 109 bis, text in
http://www.cddhcu.gob.mx/leyinfo/6/.

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the control of pimps, madams and, however informally, the state. These linkages were established through many paths: hearsay, journalistic narratives,
penny press images, jury audiences, police and judicial practices, and criminological explanations proving that the relationship between ideas about society and everyday life had become very real, if not always in the pleasant form
of progress.

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