On January 11, a wealthy Mexican apologized for his beatdown of a parking attendant who had refused to show the man where to find the jack in his car. Miguel Moises Sacal Smeke became enraged at the refusal and verbally abused the young man behind the counter, as shown by a widely circulated video taken by a security camera at the building. The out-of-control Sacal struck Hugo Enrique Vera, insulting and other with racist epithets. The parking lot attendant, Vera, said Sacal knocked two of his front teeth out during the beating, that only ceased when two other men on the scene intervened. Having beaten Vera, Sacal shouted “Now you see what I am made of…You don’t know who you are dealing with.”
The incident happened in July 2011, but did not come to the attention of the Mexican nation until the release of the security camera video on two social networking sites on January 10. It has sparked a broad public conversation over racism, class hierarchy, and equality before the law among Mexicans. Ademar Gonzalez, an attorney representing Vera, said Saca will pay damages for the beating. The amount of the damage payment was not revealed. Said attorney Gonzalez, "Mr. Sacal committed outrageous acts that should never happen to anyone, but Hugo Enrique (Vera) chose the course of legal action to resolve the conflict," Gonzalez wrote in a statement. He added that Vera "is grateful for the support of so many Mexicans."
Governmental human rights officials said Sacal may now also face charges for racist discrimination. Subtitles on the video, which has no audio track, suggest Sacal called the parking attendant a "cat" — insulting Mexican slang that can mean "flunky." Sacal also allegedly shouted “pinches indios” - f*cking Indians - at the employees at his luxury apartment building in the wealthy Polanco neighborhood of Mexico City. “These bastards don’t want to do what I tell them” declared subtitles in the offending video. The assault happened at the Torres Altusen condominium complex.
In Mexico, as in much of Latin America, since indigenous Americans are considered second class at best, being called an “Indian” is an insult. Nonetheless, Discrimination for economic or racial reasons is against the law in Mexico City. And in Mexico, there has long been official praise for the achievements of the now extinct Aztecs, in contrast to the popular denigration of their descendants.
At least a half-dozen Facebook pages against Sacal were registered in just two days, some with expletives as user names while others bear names such as "Jail for Miguel Sacal" and "Everybody Against Miguel Moises Sacal." Some users on networking sites were urging boycotts of clothing stores reportedly owned by Sacal. He is the owner of a chain of stores called “Indie Jean.”
Vera filed a criminal complaint against Sacal charging him with causing injuries; Sacal is to face trial on the charges but has thus far avoided jail, having filed an injunction against arrest. This is a tactic frequently used by well-heeled Mexicans. A crime report alleges that Sacal asked Vera to show him where the jack for his car was, which Vera interpreted as a request to fix Sacal's flat tire. Vera said he told Sacal the jack was in the trunk of his car, but he would not leave his post since he had to park other residents' cars. Enraged, Sacal is seen in the video coming behind Vera’s counter to repeatedly slap and punch the attendant, slam his head down. Other employees made faint-hearted attempts to stop the beating, or stood by helplessly.
Even though he felt powerless to stop the beating since he was afraid of losing his job, Vera nonetheless filed a criminal report against Sacal. Vega later said he felt powerless and took the beating because he was afraid of losing his job. But he later filed a crime report against Sacal. Sacal has offered an apology for his behavior, in a letter to local media. But Vera and Attorney Gonzalez said the criminal case against Sacal would go ahead. "The incident that has been made public shows me performing reproachable acts," Sacal wrote. "I was under a lot of pressure, which does not justify my actions." He wrote besides, "I am very ashamed," and "I am aware that my behavior was not acceptable. For that reason I am undergoing psychological therapy."
Mexico has an extremely unequal distribution of income, and for decades political affiliation and class were trump cards used with alacrity in confrontations on the street and in courtrooms. Approximately 47 million of its 112.7 million people live in dire poverty, even though Mexico is home the world's richest man, Carlos Slim.
Also in 2011, two affluent women caused outrage when they insulted, shoved and slapped a Mexico City police officer, besides insulting his mother and referring to him as a “wage slave." Police officers have a poor reputation in Mexico, often being accused of demanding bribes. In the current narco-war, Mexican authorities have had to resort to using the nation’s military to deal with narcoterrorists since local police often in collusion with the drug dealers. Even so, municipal police are often people of dark pigmentation or have features characterized as “Indian.” Their salaries average the equivalent of $300 per month. The two women, however, were charged with resisting officers, insulting authorities and discrimination.
In the case of Sacal, the Central Committee of the Jewish Community of Mexico denounced the businessman’s treatment of Vera the valet. In a statement, the Jewish community declared “The Jewish Community of Mexico denounces this type of attitude and behavior on the part of any person, for being violent, arrogant and discriminatory, while also manifesting that the behavior of individuals should not be attributed generally to any one group in society.” The committee expressed hope that the “legal process that is in progress will come to a satisfactory resolution of this situation.”