The tragic deaths this week of two children, one of them a 4-month-old baby who was placed in a freezer, reopens the drama of violence against children in Puerto Rico.
Puerto Ricans learned on Wednesday from the island’s chief of police, Hector Pesquera, that the mother and stepfather of the baby had a barbacue while the child’s body was still inside the freezer, where they went to get ice.
The macabre information imparted by Pesquera illustrates the difficult situation some children face in Puerto Rico, which has been mired in a deep economic crisis for more than five years and, in addition, is dealing with a crime wave linked to drug trafficking.
Unemployment, a lack of values and poor education are causes pointed to by experts to explain the situation faced by Puerto Rico, where 200 cases of child abuse are reported every month and where in 2010 - the last year for which figures are available - five children died at the hands of their own parents.
Police so far this year have registered 32 murders of children under age 18. At least 934 people have died under violent circumstances on the island in 2012, although that is 167 fewer than last year.
The most shocking case is that of the 4-month-old baby, whose body remained in the freezer for six days until found by police, after they came to the home in San Juan’s Caparra Terrace neighborhood in response to a telephone call for help placed by the mother, who lived there with another 4-year-old child and the presumed murderer.
Pesquera said that the behavior of Jose Miranda Lopez was an “aberration from nature,” and it remains to be determined if the mother also acted improperly in the death of the child, whose body apparently was kept in a plastic bag in the freezer.
The FBI announced that it will take jurisdiction of the case and Miranda Lopez will be treated as a federal fugitive.