A Very Guatemalan Conspiracy


From The New Yorker:

After Rosenberg heard that the Musas had been shot, he rushed to the scene. Luis Mendizábal, a longtime friend and client of Rosenberg’s, told me, “I asked him to come and pick me up, so we could go to the place together. He said, ‘No, no, no. I’m not going to lose any time. I’m going directly.’ So he went. He couldn’t believe it. Then he came back over here, and cried, easily, for two hours.” His oldest son, Eduardo, who was twenty-four, told me that it was only the second time he had seen his father break down, the first being when Rosenberg revealed that he was separating from Eduardo’s mother. He seemed “completely destroyed” by the Musas’ deaths, Eduardo recalled.

Though the crime was horrific, Rosenberg’s deeply emotional reaction was surprising. Musa was not a big client or someone he knew that well. Then Rosenberg told his son a secret: for more than a year, he and Marjorie had been having an affair.

They had planned to marry, but had not wanted to disclose their relationship until Marjorie got a divorce. Almost every day, they had exchanged text messages. On March 3, 2009, five weeks before the shooting, Marjorie wrote to Rosenberg, “I love you like I’ve never loved before. And, yes, I will marry you.” A few days later, she said, “Good night my love, my prince, my whole life. You don’t know how much I love you, how much I adore you, and how much I need you. You are so tender with me. And you’re the sweetest man I know.” She added, “I’m dying to live the rest of my life at your side.” He called her “my Marjorie de Rosenberg” and told her that she gave him “the strength to be a better man” and that they were “living an incredible love story.” Hours before she was killed, he ended a message with the words “Your prince forever.”

In tears, Rosenberg told his son, “They killed her! They killed her!” He told Mendizábal the same thing, repeating the words over and over.

The shootings unnerved the most powerful members of Guatemalan society. Khalil Musa knew Guatemala’s President, Álvaro Colom, who had also worked in the textile industry; Marjorie was a good friend of Gustavo Alejos, who was Colom’s private secretary, and whose brother was the head of Congress. An adviser to President Colom told me, “If the Musas could be killed, there was a sense that anyone could be.”

Rosenberg warned family and friends that the Musa murders would never be properly investigated. The criminal networks would either block the investigation or destroy the evidence, and if a probe somehow proceeded they would frame a scapegoat; finally, if all else failed, the gangsters would threaten to kill members of the judiciary system, who would bury the case. The Musas’ deaths, he predicted, would become just another statistic. Nevertheless, Rosenberg could not let the matter go: Why, he asked, had an honorable man like Musa been “put down like a dog”? And what had Marjorie, an exemplary daughter, done to deserve this?

“A Murder Foretold, David Grann, The New Yorker