The life of Emma Coronel and what seduced her in Chapo Guzmán
Vega, one of the presenters of a Vice podcast on Guzman Loera, believes that the love story between the two is genuine.
"Imagine a 17-year-old girl who happens to win a beauty contest and a powerful man tries to conquer her heart. I think she was seduced by power, by that name, just by his name."
Emma Coronel Aispuro, the wife of Joaquín "El Chapo" Guzmán, has become a leading character in her husband's trial.
Not only because of what her figure represents but because a witness linked her to the famous escape from the Altiplano prison in 2015. On another occasion, it was revealed that her husband had sent her text messages asking her to hide her weapons before a police raid. The day one of the Chapo lovers testified, Coronel and her husband wore red velvet bags, apparently as a sign of solidarity and as a slight to the witness.
The sordid life of the women related to the cartel has been described by the witnesses. They are often required to find a balance between the role of lovers and accomplices, but most fail, in general, because they want to participate too much in one of the two facets. They often end up behind bars or live to hide.
In this case, the wife of Chapo, the most prominent woman in a court trial almost exclusively of men, has been the exception.
Prosecutors have called 56 witnesses to persuasively and thoroughly describe her husband as a vengeful drug trafficker, a bloodthirsty murderer, and an unrepentant womanizer. Coronel has attended the court almost every day and has become a fixed presence, with an impassive face, always sitting in the second row.
It is almost certain that El Chapo spends the rest of his life in jail. But Coronel, who has enjoyed the booty generated during the thirty years that Guzman dedicated himself to forging a drug trafficking empire that prosecutors estimate at 14 billion dollars, rejects the way they have presented him in court.
"I do not know my husband as the person who tries to teach those who testify against him, rather, I admire him for being the person I met and married," Coronel told the Times.
Most people would doubt Coronel's characterization of her husband, one of the most famous drug traffickers in Latin America and who, according to one witness, was powerful enough to bribe former Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto.
In the last week, a witness told how the capo buried a man alive, after having personally murdered two others. After the prosecution spent more than ten weeks presenting its case, Chapo's lawyers only needed 30 minutes to formulate their defense on Tuesday.
Emma Coronel is not required to testify against Guzmán Loera, but recent events at the trial have made many wonders how she has avoided being accused. The prosecutors refused to answer why their legal situation is not in danger and Coronel also declined to comment on the court proceedings. The testimonies presented in court, if true, contribute to presenting it as the stereotype of the "good wife."
"If you hear the name 'Emma Coronel' and you know who she is, you'll think of El Chapo," said Miguel Ángel Vega, a reporter for the weekly newspaper RíoDoce.
The 29-year-old former beauty queen was married in 2007 to Chapo Guzmán, when she was still a teenager and became a mother in her early twenties. She has spent more than a third of her life in a marriage in which her husband has almost always been imprisoned or on the run.
Coronel currently lives in two countries as a result of the trial. Her 7-year-old twins study in Mexico and communicate with them through a messaging application.
"I've had to separate from my daughters to accompany him because I'm the only person in his family who can be here with him in New York," said Coronel.
Their twins, Emali and María Joaquina, have only seen their father in court and during prison visits, they are watched closely.
"He was always a very present dad, keeping an eye on our daughters," she says of her husband.
She describes the girls as "they worship their father, and he worships them."
The daughters they have in common are Guzmán's only approved visits since Coronel is not allowed to visit him, talk to him or call him on the phone.
"I do not consider myself a single mother. Rather, I am a mother who at the moment does not have the support of her husband, but who trusts that the family will be well, "says Coronel.
"Obviously, our life has changed."
The couple met on a ranch in Durango, Mexico when she was 17 years old. Guzmán, then in his forties and well-positioned on the cusp of the Sinaloa Cartel, had been hiding from the authorities almost six years after escaping from prison in a laundry cart in 2001.
He is 32 years older than her. However, that was not an impediment from the first day to start "a nice friendship" between the couple, Coronel told the Times.
"As the months went by, we became engaged, and when we turned 18 we got married in a very simple ceremony with family and only close friends."
Guzmán Loera's wife insists that she has a normal life. Born in California, she grew up in the state of Durango, northwest Mexico, which borders Sinaloa, where Guzmán lived.
Both states are part of the Golden Triangle of marijuana production, but her version of the story excludes any mention of drugs, although testimonies in her husband's trial have confirmed the old rumor that her father was a lieutenant of the Sinaloa Cartel.
Coronel only speaks of a "simple and very quiet childhood within a loving and united family", and adds that she grew up with two brothers and a sister whom she loves.
Most stories about her mention that she won a beauty contest when she was a teenager, but most of the details of her private life remain a mystery.
The romance has brought Emma Coronel to New York City, where she went to a Yankees game while her husband is in jail, has strolled through Central Park and often dines at one of the most popular sushi restaurants in Brooklyn. It is almost impossible to know how much she has seen in court, if it has affected her, despite the appalling details about her husband's behavior.
Coronel left the lobby of a hotel in Brooklyn. Outside the temperature was 4 degrees Celsius and she was wearing a leather-padded jacket and was going with two friends, a lawyer, and her real estate agent. I was waiting for a black Camry that would take her to Manhattan where she would have a photo shoot.
The city is not new to her, she has visited tourist attractions, such as the Empire State. Even so, explore the city "when it's not too cold". When asked about nightlife in the city, Coronel responds: "I prefer to sleep." The trial has seemed exhausting.
Inside the car, there had been general rejoicing: it was finally Friday, a day of trial break to sleep and rest. Lately, Coronel has been a central figure in the drama that unfolds in court.
Prosecutors shared some text messages from the couple in 2012, in which they said they had prepared for a possible raid on the house where they were staying that February.
"Do you have a weapon, love? Do you have a gun?" Guzman asked in one of the messages.
"I have one of yours, the one you gave me," she replied.
Her husband asked her to hide it in a nail (a hidden compartment) in the house.
Last week, Dámaso López Núñez, 52, a former prison director who became a high-ranking member of the cartel, testified that Coronel helped plan his husband's escape from prison in 2015.
According to "El Licenciado", over the course of four months at the beginning of 2015, Coronel met with him and Guzmán's sons to impart the instructions that the boss ordered from the prison: buy a plot of land and a warehouse near the prison; secure weapons, a pick-up truck and a GPS watch to point out the exact coordinates of his cell, and dig a tunnel from the prison to the hold.
In July 2015, Guzmán escaped and flew to his hiding place in the mountains of Sinaloa.
Chapo's young wife declined to comment on Lopez's statements linking her to her husband's escape. Throughout all these testimonies, Coronel has not been very expressive. Seldom does she. She did not do it the day one of Guzman's lovers cried on the bench.
Coronel just lost her composure the day she brought her daughters to court in December. That day, the prosecution showed a cart full of AK-47 rifles and a grenade launcher. When she saw the weapons, Coronel rushed out of the court, escorting her daughters to a corridor full of agents.
Emma Coronel has said she does not like what happens in court. It has been "too much," she said one day. "I hate drama."
One day after the court session, Guzmán turned to see the audience. His wife smiled, leaning on the other side of the bench. They fixed their eyes but could not speak and then a lot of agents took him out of the room. She showed a solemn countenance.
"This situation that we are going through right now is difficult and burdensome," she said in one of her interviews.
"I have faith and I am convinced that God only puts us obstacles that we can overcome and I trust that it will be so."
The original text of this article was published by the Debate at the following address: https://www.debate.com.mx/mundo/La-vida-de-Emma-Coronel-y-lo-que-la-sedujo-del-Chapo-Guzman-20190130-0106.html