A former beauty queen from Mexico has been arrested on suspicion of holding several women captive in her home and forcing them to work without pay. Lili Bustillo, also known as Maria Hilda, represented Puebla in the Señorita Mexico pageant in 1991. She has now made headlines for the slavery case.
“I still worked under her shouts and threats, but she never paid me a single penny. She had the right, we did not, we lived in fear of her family. I needed her to pay me,” said one woman who claimed to have been enslaved by Lili, as quoted by the Daily Star.
Lili, now nicknamed ‘Miss Torture’, is alleged to have offered several women, mostly indigenous residents of Zacapoaxtla, to work for her. Lili promised them a salary and school fees for those who took up the job.
Not only did Lili enslave them, but she also committed acts of violence against her household assistant. One of her employees reported that Lili’s actions had gone beyond the limit.
A woman claimed that Lili poured hot oil on her mother’s face. Meanwhile, another woman said that the beauty queen sadistically hit them with a hammer, cut their hair and nails.
These allegations of violence were uncovered after one victim, identified as Teresa, managed to escape with the help of a neighbor in 2022.
Human rights organizations in Mexico who are handling the case say that exposing Lili Bustillo’s crimes is crucial.
“Teresa was enslaved as a slave for several years and was beaten with a hammer and cut with a hacksaw by Lili. On the day she was rescued, she had not eaten for nearly two weeks and her physical condition was very bad,” said the human rights organization.
Teresa reported the alleged abuse to the police in April 2022. However, it was not until March 9, 2023, that Lili was finally arrested.
She was arrested again on Saturday (3/18/2023). Other victims have since come forward, with some claiming to have been abused for up to 15 years.
“She took me to her house, promising me a job. I was desperate and that’s why I went. She locked me up when she went on vacation, and I couldn’t eat her food. She never paid me. I tried to commit suicide twice with the products she used to clean the bathroom,” said a victim.
Meanwhile, neighbors also expressed suspicion about the violence inflicted by Lili. They had seen at least 15 vulnerable-looking workers at her home.
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