"Either write something worth reading or do something worth writing."

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Faith No More

Living in the borderlands has made me a casual observer  of the Mexican crisis. I chronicle the ongoing troubles as a way to gain an understanding of a very real and dangerous situation right at our doorstep. I glean and condense the vast volumes of information available on the web into what I hope is a comprehensible and informative digest. What I do is fairly innocuous, it's merely a rehash of what ever is already out there. But, I'm cognizant of the fact, that in Mexico any type of reporting is fast becoming hazardous to the health of the reporters.

In Mexico the 1% who hold all the wealth also terrorize and murder the remaining 99%. The new Khmer Rouge lives right next door, and eventually the smell of the killing field will drift across the border. In this country we believe that an independent news media safeguards our democratic rights. What happens when that's no longer the case? Objective reporting in Mexico is on the endangered list. It's generally assumed that some reporters receive cash payment for altering or ignoring certain stories. In some cases cartel "spokesmen" show up at crime scenes and dictate the story they want printed to beat reporters. 

With the absence of actual reporting or reliable information, Facebook & Twitter are now the primary sources of real news for many Mexican in areas under siege.  Blogs have sprung up on both sides of the border, that chronicle the activities of both law enforcement & outlaws. The most notorious is "El Blog del Narco", the brainchild of two Mexican university students. Out of necessity they cloak themselves behind a shield of internet security measures. Though anonymous and well shielded, they cautiously avoid taking sides. Their lurid coverage is heavy with violent videos & gruesome photos, which doesn't detract from their excellent reporting.

The blog is in Spanish and if you try to use Google translator or their embedded translator all you get is a confusing, almost comical stream of fractured sentences. Tight security measures are a must, since the cartels have added a new sick twist to their arsenal of intimidation and fear. Now, they are going after those that criticize them on the social networks. Shutting down social media users by sowing terror is a new weapon in the cartel's arsenal. If web news sources can be forced to conform, then the criminal element can truly operate within a total information blackout. "El Blog del Narco" has been put on notice (although cartel killers also frequent the site)

The threat was made more real by the murder of 3 persons believed to have been targeted by their social media user names. A bodies of a young man and woman, showing signs of torture were hung from an overpass bridge in Nuevo Laredo. Narcomantas at the site warned that all "Internet busy bodies" would meet the same fate. The warning continued "We are on to you." Within a week the body of a young woman was found in the same area, her head was found propped up next to her lifeless body. "For those that don't want to believe"  was scrawled on a placard along with her user name (La Nena de Laredo) for "Vivo y Redes" a popular online forum.

The very idea of narco cyber experts eavesdropping on forums and taking down users names is enough to scare the fuck out of everyone involved. Is it possible that the cartels have computer experts deciphering passwords & tracing Internet Protocol addresses? It's certainly not outside the realm of possibilities. In this case, those killed probably had their identities compromised by people they trusted or through cartel agents working for internet servers, who passed on the information. Either way it's an ominous escalation by cartels, who already have citizens in the grip of panic.

Blogs on this side of the border operate freely, nonetheless the writers for "Borderland Beat" (most of whom either live in Mexico or travel across the border) use pseudonyms. The blog has active correspondents stretching from the Pacific to the Gulf on both sides of the border. "Borderland Beat" is written in English. The reporters do more than just translate the language, they also delve into the mindset behind the madness. The reports are straight forward, not much different than what you would find in American newspapers. "Borderland Beat" provides news, profiles, cartel histories, crime scene photos, cartel produced videos and news reports that are unmatched anywhere on the web.

"Exiled" is an alternative news blog that started in Russia. It's founders Mark Ames and Matt Taibbi were forced into exile in the U.S. "Exiled" covers a wide range of topics, but when it comes to Mexico, correspondent Pancho Montana is the man. Pancho lives in Monterrey and has a ringside seat as the cartels trade body blows. Montana has an insider's knowledge of the cartels, he holds nothing back, while firing off slanderous broadsides aimed primarily at Los Zetas. He writes in a slightly skewed style that is a hybrid of Lester Bangs' bombastic prose and Tony Montana dialogue lines. He has a Mexican's love for obscene language, cynicism and whether by design or not... he's funny as hell.

Here's the links to these website, I warn you... the images are gruesome! If you want news without pictures that make you hurl your breakfast, stick with Reuters and The BBC. I would also recommend The El Paso Times, The Houston Chronicle & The Los Angeles Times (all offer superb coverage of the violence in Mexico) 

Friday, October 28, 2011

The Scorched Earth

When we last left the sullen landscape of Mexico Lindo, Los Zetas were treating Tamaulipas like their own personal chew toy. For now, the battle for control of Mexico's Gulf coast has played out in favor of Los Zetas. Although, the demise of the Beltran/Leyva organization left a void, and everyone is rushing to fill it. This puts Mexico's second city, Guadalajara in the crosshairs of both Los Zetas & Chapo Guzman. Los Zetas have made preliminary strikes into Jalisco, and in turn Sinaloa has launched a campaign aimed at Los Zetas in Veracruz. This has ushered in a sharp and sickening increase in violence. Veracruz is a stronghold for Los Zetas who operate within the city and state of Veracruz with impunity. Recent allegations have surfaced showing that the former governor, who left office in 2010 had either by threat or greed turned control of the state over to Los Zetas. 

Carrying out Guzman's ominous strategy is a  group called The New Generation. They refer to themselves as "Los Mata Zetas", a tag that first appeared on narcomantas (drug banners) and YouTube videos. They made their presence felt by dumping the bodies of 35 alleged members of Los Zetas on a busy thoroughfare in Boca del Rio, an upscale suburb of Veracruz. Los Mata Zetas followed this up by killing 32 more Zeta associates, and scattering their bodies at various locales around the city of Veracruz. The dead men & women, were mostly street level dealers, "halcones" (lookouts, spies) a trip wire or early warning system. They are expendable frontline fodder and the ones most likely to catch a bullet. 

It's believed that the brazen move by Chapo Guzman was to stall or discourage Los Zetas from moving in on lucrative drug routes. The two cartels have been swirling around Mexico like tornados, touching down in various cities and states to wreak havoc and destruction. All along it's been coming down to this, a showdown between Los Zetas and Chapo's Sinaloa cartel. Loyalty can be bought for a price. The Gulf Cartel & The Knights Templar (a quasi religous organization formed by  a fracture within La Familia) have fallen in with Sinaloa. La Familia, now without its spiritual leader Nazario Moreno, also known as "El Mas Loco" is in dire straits and fighting for it's very survival. To this end they've made a pact with the devil (Los Zetas) 

Nazario Moreno, who once authored his own bible, was a psychopathic zealot on a narco mission from God. He was killed in a shootout with the federales. While we're on the subject of madmen, The International Order of the Knights Templar, which is a charity organization, is disturbed that a drug cartel would appropriate their good name. Roberto Molinari, spokesman for that order in Mexico explained "The real Knights Templar has never had any link to criminal activities" he added "The danger is if the criminals hurt someone and their rivals are looking for revenge they might shoot one of our members. So we are like, 'Hey. Find yourself another name." They have every right to complain, although when you consider that is was the group that introduced beheadings and grenade attacks to Mexico, it would be wise to temper their complaints.

An alliance formed between Los Zetas & La Linea (the Juarez Cartel) will certainly re-ignite the smoldering conflict in Juarez.  La Linea oversees Barrio Azteca, a prison/street gang with a strong presence on both side of the border. Los Aztecas have long carried out the dirty work for the Juarez Cartel and they are now joined by a group of  cartel loyalist who call themselves "El Nuevo Cartel Juarez." This group operates as a paramilitary unit and is in charge of disrupting Chapo Guzman's organization in the plazas of Chihuahua. Their stated purpose is to expose ties between the Sinaloa Cartel and Calderon's government. Los Negros (a paramilitary squad who dress in black and travel in convoys of black vehicles) were once Chapo's enforcers. When the Beltran/Leyva cartel broke away from Sinaloa they switched sides, now one has to presume that they're on the payroll of Los Zetas. 

Naturally, nothing goes without notice, and payback is swift. Just recently, the bodies of four men murdered in Juarez bore a narco message "Tell El Nuevo Cartel Juarez to keep recruiting." The new enforcers for Chapo Guzman are La Gente Nueva, who were on the frontline in Juarez and have now spread out into the interior. The G.N. controls The Mexicles & Artistas Asesinos (Artist Assassins, also known as Doblados) Since 2006 these two Juarez street gangs (unlike Barrio Azteca, they have few ties to the U.S.) have borne the brunt of La Linea's retaliatory strikes.  A recent estimate put the number of cartel combatants in Juarez at 9,000, however, Like everything else in Mexico, the numbers are deceiving, policemen by day become sicarios by night, corrupt prison guards moonlight as hitmen. 

The federal government seems to have lost its taste for the fight, it's either re-evaluating its strategy or simply waiting out the remainder of Calderon's term.  Amid all the killing, Mexico is hosting The Pan-Am Games in Guadalajara. In order to accomplish this without any participating athletes falling victim to stray bullets, The Federales are mobilizing a massive security force to maintain calm in the city. They're doing this by pulling thousands of soldiers & Federal police from strife ridden cities in the north. It's assumed that  once the games end, all bets are off and an unprecedented wave of violence will explode across Old Mexico. 

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Look Through any Window

I'm going to cut across the grain with this, but don't get me wrong, I mourn the passing of Steve Jobs, just not with the same sense of sadness as Mac users. I never joined the cult of Macintosh, my preference for computers is utilitarian.  They are after all simply appliances, in our household they are no different than televisions or radios.  The first computers I ever owned were a trio of Tandys that I picked up at The Barrett House Thrift Store for $20 each. The lady was kind enough to toss in a box full of 5" floppys, some how-to books and a tangle of cables that resembled the nine heads of the Hydra.

I'm partial to HP or Compaq, my first operating system was Windows 95, which to me was mind blowing compared to the black & white screens on the Tandys. From there I quickly progressed through Windows 98, Windows 2000, XP, Vista and now Windows 7.  Computers are like cars, some knuckleheads will argue all day over which is better Ford or Chevy (Ford is better) Some computer geeks will argue the merits of Apple over PC's, same thing! 

All arguments aside, the goal is to get from point A to point B. Ford or Chevy will get you there, a Land Rover will get you there in style. However, we all arrive at the same place, no matter what mode of web browsing or transportation we use. When it's all said and done, we're all standing in line at some big box store, or on You Tube looking for music videos to post on Facebook. 

I bought a used Macintosh computer for my niece once. (1996?) I couldn't even tell you what version it was, all I know is that we could not find any software for it. When we did find software, it was priced well above that of Windows. After a long search I finally found a printer, but ink cartridges ran $49 each. I found Mac to be tiresome and overpriced, we soon gravitated back towards Windows. Apple has always rubbed me the wrong way, their sales pitch has long boiled down to "Be a part of the cultural Illuminati, buy Apple."

That recent ad campaign that depicted Mac as a smug young hipster and Windows as a bumbling nerdy fuck-up really got on my nerves. I use Windows simply  because it fits within my budget, I don't have a couple thousand dollars to buy a Mac and I don't need Apple to rub it in my face. What those ads really did was turn Windows into the underdog. That brand came off as the champion of the people making computing affordable and easier for the befuddled common man struggling to keep up with all this new technology.  

To a person like myself, the bottom line is price and affordability.  Apple priced itself (by design) out of most people's reach, to some that could be considered elitist. The I-pod was good, but the Sansa player can do what it does. The I-phone is great, but when you drop it into a swimming pool, it gets just as wet as any old Samsung.  iTunes, when compared to  Rhapsody, is tedious and invasive. The products Apple introduced are high end, the Rolls Royce of their respective markets, I just wish they had kept us po' folks in mind. 

And so it goes, ultimately Steve Jobs' legacy will be well rounded and not just limited to the iMac or Macintosh. Music, movies (he founded Pixar) and the business world were changed forever due to his unrelenting drive towards innovation. His impact goes beyond just computers, he revolutionized the way the music industry sells music, he changed how Americans listen to and store music, and he changed how people around the world use the internet to communicate. 

Steve Jobs was a private man, a demanding boss and a fierce competitor. He once said that Bill Gates would have been more of a visionary if he had dropped acid and gone off to an ashram, the way he did. Under his leadership, Apple became a world leader and helped make America great. He was without a doubt, an innovative genius and a great American.

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Guns over Butter

"I sure as hell wouldn't want to live in a society where the only people allowed guns are the police and the military."
William S. Burroughs

They say that Mexico has some of strictest gun laws in the world, yet everyone with bad intentions is armed to the teeth. Mexico is the poster child for every argument ever raised by the NRA. If you take firearms away from ordinary citizens then only criminals will have guns. That scenario doesn't always apply in Mexico where the distinction between outlaws and law enforcement does get blurred.

El Presidente de Mexico likes to shake his finger at the great Satan to the north and cry foul.  But, we are no more responsible for Mexico's love affair with firearms, death cult obsessions and brutish tendencies than they are of our love for getting high.  We send Mexico guns and they send us marijuana, coca & chiva, and that is what passes for a Mexican standoff these days. 

"Ordinary citizens don't need guns, as their having guns doesn't serve the State."

The calm of a late August morning was broken by the sound of helicopters taking off from the Deming airport. With doors open and legs & rifles poking out, the copters flew in a loop and landed less than 4 miles away.  It was a glorious display of  Homeland Security "cowboy up" law enforcement. Their target was the home of Rick & Terry Reese, who operate a business known as New Deal Shooting Sports.

It was a splashy take down for the Border Task Force, they're great at making lots of noise, while getting minimal results from their investigations. The entire Reese family was already under custody, having been arrested without incident at their unopened Las Cruces gun shop earlier that morning. The only thing missing from the picture other than a perp walk was "Ride of the Valkyries" pouring out from speakers mounted on the helicopters.

This impressive force, labeled "Bad Deal" touched down at the Reese family's fortified compound located south of Deming. The property site is off the grid, with electricity provided by power generators and water pumped up by a windmill. On site, officials discovered a weapons bunker under the gun shop along with a vast cache of arms and ammunition. Rick Reese an avowed survivalist has longed preached self sufficiency along with his anti-federalist rhetoric.

 At first whiff, entrapment smells just like victory

Mr. & Mrs. Reese along with their sons Ryin & Remington had been targeted by federal authorities for a number of violations involving the illegal trafficking of firearms, money laundering and falsifying sales records. The Federal indictment alleges that Rick Reese, Terry Reese or more specifically Ryin and Remington sold numerous AK47 rifles, AR-15 rifles, a pair of .50 caliber rifles, several handguns and over 7000 rounds of ammo, to undercover agents or informants. 

The weapons were sold with the full knowledge that they would be smuggled into Mexico for use by drug cartels. A fact ignored by Luna County Tea Party hacks who are leading a grassroots effort to exonerate the family.  Signs along Rockhound Road, where their home & business are located proclaim, "Bring The Reese Family Home!"  A few people around these parts send clothing and food across the border, Rick Reese chose to send guns and bullets. 

Monday, September 5, 2011

The Oxygen Thieves

Partly truth and partly fiction, this is a true tale, based on an actual murder that took place in Southern New Mexico.  Any similarities with that case are intentional on my part. 

God Help... those who help themselves.... to the charity of their fellow man

Frenchy Dupree was a rough red haired French-Canadian, who had lost an arm in an industrial accident. He dragged his brood of semi-retarded offspring down from Michigan's Upper Peninsula to New Mexico, having heard that everything was cheaper in Mexico. At first it didn't dawn on him that he had missed the border by thirty miles, he just assumed that most Mexicans spoke English. He wound up staying because here he had found a peaceful burg populated with right minded citizens willing to help out their own kind.

Life in the Dupree household was anything but normal, the older girls had to fight off their father's sexual advances, while the boys suffered regular whippings with a barber's strap. Frenchy's handicap had not affected his libido, his ability to swing the strap and his uncanny knack for rolling and lighting cigarettes with one hand.  (which he could do before his accident)

The Duprees were at the bottom of the totem pole, here they fell below most Mexicans and just above blacks on the economic ladder. In a town where white folks could get anything on credit, the Duprees were blacklisted everywhere except at Raspberry's. A mom & pop store run by a family of Okies, who like the Duprees had been headed somewhere else before they wound up here. On those rare occasions when Frenchy would go in to make a payment he would ask "So, my credit good?" Mrs. Raspberry would eye him with suspicion "Yeah, it's good for now" 

Frenchy would light up a hand rolled smoke and put in his order "Gimme a loaf of bread, a jar of mayo and a pound of baloney" after taking a drag on his homespun coffin nail he would ask "You say my credit good?" Momma Raspberry had played this game before "It's good today, Frenchy" she answered. "Well then make that 2 loafs of bread and 2 pounds of baloney" which was as close as Frenchy ever got to being generous.

See a penny pick it up... all day long you'll have good luck!

His wife was a pale wild haired woman who doted on her red-haired frowners.  They were as miserable and unhappy a bunch as you would ever wish to see. The wildest playground fight I ever saw was between the Dupree siblings. Jimmy Dupree flanked as always by his brothers Joe and John was proudly displaying a shiny penny that he had acquired. He was going on about all the candy they were going to buy at Raspberry's when his sister Arlene came along grabbed it from him declaring "That's my penny you stole it from me"

Within minutes the entire clan was fighting tooth and nail. It was a battle royal, a cry went out across the playground."The Duprees are fighting." A large crowd of kids gathered to witness the astonishing sight of siblings trying to kill one another. Joe and John sided with Jimmy but Arlene was whipping all three, so they switched sides. Now Jimmy was getting pounded, and blood started to flow. Some of the kids watching got squeamish and ran off to call for a teacher to break up the ruckus.

Mrs. Pearson arrived, dragging Arlene off Jimmy while demanding to know "What are you fighting about?" some pipsqueak in the back yelled out "They're fighting over a penny"  Mrs. Pearson's eyebrows went up "A penny?, Good Lord!... all this over a penny!" then she marched them to the principal's office. Joe Peters being a nice guy and a soft touch, promptly reached into his pocket and gave them each their own penny.

The best layed plans, formulated by idiots always go astray

Butch Dupree, Frenchy's oldest son was nothing to be proud of. A mouth breathing vacant eyed punk with the thought process of a lizard. Butch had met up with Loreen Allen in the special education class while in jr.high school. They had been inseparable for four years, much to the consternation of Loreen's family. Together they walked the streets of town hand in hand. Stopping only to browse through the local dime stores, boosting whatever cheap crap they could when the clerks weren't looking.

Wayne Castle was the throwaway son of alcoholics, a borderline sociopath, rife with suicidal tendencies. Butch & Loreen tolerated Wayne simply because his reputation for violent action kept Butchie's tormentors; the town's chicano toughs and shitkicking stomps at bay. Not to mention that like any thug in training he needed a partner in crime. Butch had a heist in mind and he would need Wayne's help to pull it off.  

While sitting at the counter of Rexall Drugstore, the trio of miscreants had met Mac Starr, a retired merchant marine who traveled around the southwest looking for love in all the wrong places. Starr made his first fatal mistake when he paid their tab. As was his custom, he peeled a few dollars off a roll he carried in his pocket. A detail that quickly drew the attention of the ever resourceful Butch.

When Mac cheerfully offered a ride in his brand new two seater MG Midget, Butch took him up on it. Once on the road, Mac wasted no time making a pass at Butch, who  quickly deflected his advances. "Didn't mean to offend you" Mac quickly added, Butch lit a smoke and without showing any emotion replied "No offense, but I do know someone you might like."

Always knew he would kill someone, just reckoned it would be his daddy

Lured to a secluded spot northwest of town by the promise of sex, Mac Starr drove himself into an ambush. He arrived to find Butch, Wayne & Loreen standing around a small campfire, drinking from the same bottle. Starr, wearing his Sinatra hat stepped out of his car and danced a happy jig. "The party can start now, I'm here" he crooned. His mood soured and the smile melted away when Wayne produced a rifle and aimed it his way.  "You have got to be joking" Mac sputtered "Ain't no joke, faggot" Butch stammered excitedly  "Give us all your money." 

I won't spare you the gruesome details. In the process of robbing him at gun point, Starr was shot twice in the head and stabbed repeatedly. His body was stuffed into the trunk of a large sedan owned by Wade's mother. With Butch and Loreen leading the way in the larger vehicle, Wayne followed in the Midget. Their destination was a cluster of mine shafts at the northern edge of the Cooke's Range. An area Butch was familiar with, having accompanied his father on several fruitless prospecting expeditions. 

The night was pitch black as all three of them heaved the old man's body into the hole. "Won't be enough" Butch told Loreen, so they gathered dry brush and tossed it in after him. Butch then emptied a five gallon metal can full of gasoline into the shaft. He stuffed an oily rag into the spout, lit it and threw it in. An eerie glow radiated from the bottom of the mine, black smoke started to rise up. Momentarily mesmerized by the pulsating light, Butch drawled: "That should do it" 

At daybreak, the last thing rancher Larry Hays expected to see was a foreign sports car on a dirt road to nowhere. The vehicle had gone off the road and was stuck in sand. Larry approached with caution "What in the world are you doing out here at this time of day" he asked the young man sitting on the ground.  Wayne Castle grinned "We got drunk, I got lost and my friends ditched me."

Larry Hays examined the British automobile, it had Nevada plates. "I'll say you're lost, it's a long way to Nevada from here"  Larry was taking mental notes. Wade meekly asked "Can you pull my car out?" Larry looked under the car "Sure" he then went back to his truck to grab a tow chain, "You're going to ruin that vehicle driving it on these roads" he called out to Wayne, who didn't respond. 
Despite appearances Mac Starr carried little cash with him. Butch and Loreen ransacked his motel room but found less than $20. Added to the $88 they had pulled from his pockets, their homicidal effort had barely netted them $100. That was the least of their problems, embers from the fire burning in the shaft had been blown onto the surrounding brush and there was now a full scale wildfire raging north of Montezuma Canyon. On top of that Wade's mother had called in her car as stolen and Wade had been pulled over by the state police who impounded the MG while they attempted to contact the registered owner: Mac Starr.

Murder... and that's all she wrote

While putting out Butchie's unintentional brushfire, firefighters stumbled upon Mac's toasty tomb. The Sheriff's office was called out and the body retrieved (slightly singed but not roasted) A receipt in the front shirt pocket from the Skyline Motel was made out to Mac Starr. When word got back to the State Police, they immediately brought in Wayne Castle for questioning.

With Wayne sitting in a holding cell, Murphy's Law kicked him square in the nuts again. Mr. Larry Hays, having heard of the body found in the vicinity of his ranch, reported his strange encounter with Wayne Castle to investigators. At the same moment, city police found Ma Castle's missing sedan in the parking lot of  the Safeway Supermarket. Detectives examined the trunk and interior of the vehicle, no effort had been made to clean up the now dried blood. 

A bag boy told police that Butch Dupree had parked the vehicle there the night before and walked over to the Baker Hotel, a flophouse preferred by pensioners. Within an hour, both Butch and Loreen were in custody. The new age Bonnie & Clyde stonewalled detectives. Wayne was a different story, for all his reputation and macho bluster, he was afraid of authority figures.

Wayne quickly turned on Butch & Loreen, telling police that Butch in a rage over Starr's sexual advances had attacked him with a knife after which he told Wayne to shoot him at close range. He then went along with the couple, afraid that they would kill him. Wayne further stated that he got stuck in the sand while escaping from Butch and Loreen who were chasing after him with murderous intent.

 The hammer of justice shall come down with a cold, fist-clenching fury

Loreen's family hired an attorney and once a plea deal was worked out, she turned on Butch and Wayne. According to Loreen's account, Butch seething over Starr's advances, had grabbed the older man by the neck and stabbed him numerous times. When Mac fell to the ground, Wayne  walked over and at point blank range shot him twice in the head. Loreen's testimony made it not a robbery gone wrong, but rather  premeditated murder.

Butch Dupree never broke under questioning and didn't utter a single word in his own defense during the subsequent trial. A state police investigator called him "A tough fucking nut" The Assistant District Attorney  stated that "Mr. Dupree has been preparing for this moment his entire life." Both Butch & Wayne were found guilty of first degree murder, Loreen received 3-5 yrs. for her part.

Once settled in to the state prison at Santa Fe, the diminutive Butch quickly gained a reputation for being hard and violent, it served him well. Wayne's testimony had branded him as a snitch, a role he continued behind bars, he spent most of his time in protective custody. Both survived the bloody prison riot of 1980 and were shipped off to correctional facilities outside of New Mexico. Eventually they were paroled and never heard from again. Loreen served three years and then just days after her release died of a drug overdose in El Paso.   

The Dupree clan vanished from town soon after the trial, nobody knows where they went. Could be that Frenchy finally closed that last thirty miles between himself and Mexico. The last time I ran into any of the Duprees was just after Butch had been arrested. I walked into the men's room at the public library only to be greeted by the ungodly sight of Jimmy Dupree  squatting over the lavatory defecating, John was doing the same in the urinal and Joe was taking a dump into a trashcan. They started laughing when Jimmy told me "You can use the toilet... we're not!" I exited to a chorus of howling laughter. I started to tell the librarian, but stopped myself, she would find out soon enough.

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

The Beautiful Season

My entire childhood was a process designed to push me to manhood or kill me

It's not clear who spotted the cat first. Word of the sighting quickly spread to all the farms on the western slope of Red Mountain. It was a mountain lion (un gato montes) folks whispered, though in reality it turned out to be a rather large bobcat. The alarm was raised and all kids were ordered to stay inside and not stray into the fields or the mesquite bushes. 

One morning, my father ordered me up at dawn, after breakfast we drove out into the fields. The fact that he brought a rifle with him was exciting, something was up.  We drove to the edge of a remote irrigated field, my dad stopped the truck and in short order shot two jack rabbits (which he made me retrieve) after tying the hindlegs together he slung them on a fence post.

The two of us then retreated into the milo, (which was 4-5 feet high that time of year) we squated down and we waited.... and waited.... after an hour or so, my dad ended the stakeout. "Por aqui anda el gato" he assured me, as we examined a number of feline tracks in the damp earth. The big cat was near and we were about to spook him out. 

Right about then I'm thinking we should just leave that old mountain lion alone. My father had other plans, he handed me a stick and had me walk along beating the sorghum stalks while he held the rifle ready to gun down the feline in mid-rush. We criss-crossed the field a few times to no avail, finally he called off the lion hunt. 

A black ant had made its way up my trouser leg and on the way home it bit my testicles, I sat there in excrutiating pain without saying a word. Much to my relief, Dad let me stay home that afternoon. I took a fitful, fevered nap, my balls were on fire and I couldn't tell anyone, least of all my mother. Many years later, I ran into a fellow who had grown up on the farm next to us, he told me they had cornered and shot that bobcat. Somehow I felt cheated, that was our cat to kill.

Eventually this need to drive me away, drove a wedge between us 

The fields were watered by a network of cement lined irrigation ditches, which were fed from a reservoir (tank, tanque) Most of these tanks were lined with trees (weeping willows & alamos  mostly) and populated by some of the biggest damn bullfrogs you could ever find. 

The bullfrogs had a nasty habit of migrating into the irrigation ditches and then getting sucked into the pvc pipes watering the rows. It was determined that any bullfrog caught in a ditch should immediately be dispatched to meet his maker. Catching them was another problem, like I said... they were big and their legs kicked out like goddamn mules (so it seemed to a seven year old)

My dad had me strip to my underwear and jump into the ditch (about 3.5 feet deep) Then he told me to get the bullfrog. I reached for it and it kicked violently, I started to panic and tried to climb out of the ditch. "Get back in" my father yelled, which he emphasized by hitting me with a black pvc pipe. I thrashed into the water and grabbed the bullfrog again, it kicked away from me. The pvc pipe came down on my back, "Get the Bullfrog" my dad yelled, I tripped and went face first into the water. I came up gasping and spitting, "Get the bullfrog" I heard, followed by the sting of pvc. 

This time I grabbed hold of the frog's legs and held on for dear life. I stood there holding it as it tried to break free. I had conquered my fear "I got him, I got him" I yelled out. My dad rushed over with a gunny sack. "Good" he said "now let's get some more"  So it went, I never faulted him for being excessive, turning a goofy kid like me into a man was a tough job.

He was unconventional, this was something I noticed about him when I was a child.

Alvino Aguirre was an extraordinary man, a composer of thoughts and letters, a connoisseur of a wide range of music and books. He was an urban man who spent most of his life in a small town, far too intelligent for the menial jobs he labored at his entire life. I knew him mostly as a farmer, he took pride in his work on the farm, even if he was just a farmhand. 

I recall how he would point out the straightest neatest furrows and tell me "Those are mine"  We would squat next to cotton plants as he peeled apart a cotton boll to show me how healthy and clean it was. He would measure the passage of time by the height of the cotton, "When it's this high, you'll start school", he reminded me, holding his hand about five feet off the ground.

My siblings all have their memories and stories about how they related to Alvino. The family being so large mandated that each child would forge their own relationship with him. All are unique, a few carry only pleasant memories and others grew up with mixed feelings. Some of us felt the sting of verbal and physical lashings, others didn't.  

I grew up the only boy in a large family, because of that I bore the brunt of my father's expectations and disappointments. As men the dynamic between us was different from that of my sisters. I don't know what he expected from me... he never said. I do know this, that as an adult, I'm a mirror image of him in every way... for better or worse.  

The last time I saw him he was already bedridden, wasting away from the cancer that would kill him. As I walked into the room he tried to cover himself, ashamed that I would see him in that condition "Aqui me tienen" he said, before he closed his eyes. I don't know what went through his mind: tractors, bullfrogs, bobcats, mountains?... The cotton was tall... fall was upon us and it was time for the harvest.

"In the happiest of our childhood memories, our parents were happy, too."  

Monday, August 15, 2011

Gas, Food, Lodging

Gas, Food, Lodging was Allison Anders first solo project. She signed on as the director  and wrote the screenplay herself, which is an adaptation of Richard Peck's novel "Don't Look and It Won't Hurt."  The title of the movie refers to those omnipresent signs that direct travelers off the interstates and into travel plazas or truck stops.  The highways cut through the heart of many small American towns, all dependent on a steady flow of traffic. Behind each sign, the drama of small town affairs is played out amongst the wax and wane of transitory travel and commerce.

I would be a fan of Allison Anders, even if she had never set foot in this dust blown town. Anders an American film screenwriter and director, is perhaps best known for "Mi Vida Loca" a movie that takes an eyes wide open look at gang life in Los Angeles' Echo Park neighborhood (where Anders happened to reside when the film was made) It's a gangsta paradise tale of dope sliggin' Ernesto and his mini truck "Suavecito" as told by the women in his life. "Mi Vida Loca" was a success at the box office, but it would do even better in the rental stores, becoming an established Hispanic favorite with a cult like following. 

For Gas, Food, Lodging, Allison and her production team arrived in Deming in 1991 and started filming in and around town. Nora the character played by Brooke Adams is a truck stop waitress. Which made Deming's rundown and sleazy Truck Terminal the primary location for filming. The trailer park where Nora and her two daughters, Trudi (Ione Skye) and Shade (Fairuza Balk) live is located adjacent to the truck stop. Even in 1991, living there would've placed them at the bottom rung of the town's social and economic ladder.  

The entire crew stayed at Deming's Holiday Inn, which was the only motel  that could cater to the Hollywood folks. With a lounge/bar, a restaurant and room service, it was as close to luxury as they would get in this town. In researching this story I went there to see if after all these years I could dig up any dirt. There was one lady who started working there in 1990, that I spoke to. When I inquired about the film crew, the only thing she seemed to recall was that "The girl in The Waterboy stayed here" "Fairuza Balk?" I asked, in an attempt to jog her memory. She looked at me like I was speaking in a foreign language "I didn't know her name, but I took her room service calls, she was nice."  That was the total extent of my research. 

Nora and her daughters live in a small town along I-10 in Southern New Mexico. There is no mention of Deming in the movie, because the name was changed to Laramie. In all actuality the story could take place in any part of the country. The fictional town in Peck's novel is named Claypitts, "The Pearl of the Prairie" and is within a couple hours drive of Chicago. Claypitts like Deming is on an Interstate. Peck's matriarch is a hostess and waitress at the Pull off Plaza, "How's that for real class?" her youngest daughter snidely remarks.

The movie deals with the ongoing battle between Nora and her oldest daughter Trudi, who has almost no redeeming qualities, "I'm the dominant female in this house, you're both following my cycle." Trudi yells at her mother and sister. Shade escapes from the drama at home by watching old black & white Mexican melodramas at the town's nearly empty theater. Deming had such a theater once, The Luna. The English speaking (i.e. white or Hispanic) moviegoers went across the street to the Mimbres Theater (the scenes that show Shade in the theater were filmed there)

Shade plots ways to get a man back into her mother's life, so they can live like a normal family. She unwittingly sets her mom up for a dinner date with the married man Nora had just broken up with. Shade describes him this way "I could tell he was no loser. He had on the clothes of a teamster and boots from Spain... or at least El Paso" Tony Lamas, no doubt.  Nora takes Ray showing up at her door in stride, leading to this classic dialogue:
Ray: What line of work are in, Ms. Evans?
Nora: I'm a brain surgeon, Raymond
Nora: How about you?
Ray: I'm a grave digger myself and I'm digging my own as we speak....rapidly.
Nora: That makes two things you do quick

Heartbroken, Shade confides in her friend, Darius a flamboyant teenager,  who she discovers is gay when she tries to seduce him. As Nora had predicted Trudi gets knocked up by some British rockhound, who seemingly bails on her (after having sex with her inside an abandoned mine..kinky!)

Trudi is quickly put on a bus to Dallas (a few Deming gals made that same journey) Nora then meets up with a cocky satellite installer named Hamlet Humphrey, who after she rejects both his advances and sales pitch tells her "Maybe TV just ain't what you need, lady" Shade is now on a quest to find her daddy, John Evans (James Brolin) After a chance meeting he gives her a ride home. Later he tells her "I ain't shit... but I'm your old man, darling. (typical way for Deming dads to introduce themselves to their kids) John is living with another woman now and Shade's subsequent visit is awkward. When Shade tells Nora that she's met up with her father, Nora responds "And he doesn't even bother to call us? He just stalks us like the coward he always was!"  However, all is well that ends well. Shade hooks up with Javier (Jacob Vargas), the cholo who Trudi calls a wetback at the start of the movie. It turns out that Hamlet Humphrey did have what Nora needed (and he was right, it wasn't television)

Both Nora and Shade travel to be with Trudi when she has her baby, afterwards Shade asks Trudi if she'll return to Laramie, "Laramie's a shit hole" Trudi answers "There's nothing there, except a lot of bad memories" which also happens to be the new slogan used by The Deming Chamber of Commerce.  Back in Dem...err! Laramie, Shade stumbles on the truth about Trudi's baby daddy. Seems the dumbass Brit, fell into a mine shaft and was killed. That's why he never returned to own up to his responsibilities. Shade decides not to tell Trudi, at least not right away. 

Richard Peck is an adequate writer and Allison Anders is always an excellent screenwriter. Anders skillfully weaves the mundane everyday routine of life in a small New Mexico town into a tapestry of quiet (and not so quiet) desperation. 
 J. Mascis of Dinosaur Jr. provided some of the soundtrack music and also makes an appearance as 'The D.J. from L.A." who tries to force his way into Tanya's (Shade's other friend) house, and gets bitch slapped by John Evans, who shows up delivering liquor to underage girls, what a buzz kill.  

Monday, August 8, 2011

You'll Always Walk Alone

I am a Catholic, lapsed...perhaps, disillusioned...maybe, but Catholic nonetheless. I was steeled into my unbending faith by the iron doctrine of Sister Rosalie. You've heard all the stereotypes of stern nuns rapping knuckles with rulers, pulling kids up the stairs by the ear, forced repetitions of the Hail Mary etc.,  Sister Rosalie embodied each and every stereotype. The good Sister was a tough Chicana from San Antonio, by devoting herself to Jesus Christ she spared some poor sap from a miserable marriage...no doubt.  

Sister Rosalie was quick to draw the sword in defense of her beliefs. After the reading of the holy rosary when my mother passed away, our landlord, who fancied himself a Pentecostal preacher went forward to offer a eulogy. It was touching and heartfelt, as I sat there crying Sister Rosalie slid into the seat behind me and hissed into my ear "Who is he? and who told him he could speak" I just shook my head as sobs convulsed through my thin frame. Sister Rosalie was livid, I feared she would lead me to the gates of hell (by the ear of course)  

It was Sister Rosalie that  had brought us word of our mother's passing. She did so in a gentle and caring manner. The Sisters reassured us that we weren't going to be alone and somehow the pieces would fall back in place. You don't know if your faith is true, until you're tested. A long time ago, I figured out that the best way to stay devoted to my faith was to not attend mass...ever!  This allowed me to keep a fresh perspective. I always suspected that there was something queer (no pun intended) about the priesthood, altar boys and celibacy. 

Even as a kid, I knew that it wasn't natural. Then again by my own tally by the age of 10 I was already hopelessly doomed to hell. This really bothered me, so much so that I broached the subject to Sister Rosalie "Sister, how can I keep from going to hell?" I asked, "For starters" she said "Recite 100 Our Fathers and 100 Hail Marys" It was a small price to pay, especially since I lost count after a few minutes. 

The Southwestern version of Jim Crow wasn't as heavy handed as that of the antebellum South. Deming's two Catholic churches were divided along racial lines. St. Anne's (for Hispanics) and Holy Family (for Anglos) since we lived closer to Holy Family that's where my dad sent us. Holy Family had been founded by Slovakian, Hungarian and German immigrants, who along with the odd Irish, preferred to keep their cathedral lily white.  

That was starting to change, but it still meant going fist city with a few white kids. I wasn't a fighter, fisticuffs did not appeal to me. And yet it was a marathon beating dealt out to the city manager's son, that caused me to be tossed from the flock. Funny thing is, I don't remember why the fight started in the first place. It was racial of that I'm certain, but I hardly knew him. 

The boy had nothing but he kept coming, he was built like a tank yet didn't land a single punch, he just bulled ahead. I peppered his face with punches, his buddies egged him on from the top of the basement stairs. I fell into a routine of jab..feint, cross.. feint, combination..feint, he kept charging at me. I grew tired of the game, but honor and pride were at stake, so I continued with the lesson plan.

Finally, like Morante del Pueblo it was time for the kill... I had mastered the bull. I reared back and landed a haymaker to his nose... the claret started to flow, his supporters groaned in unison and then vanished into the wind. His knees buckled, but HE KEPT COMING! Jesus Christ! jab..feint, cross..feint, combination.. feint. His blood was on my knuckles, his face was a red mask, to make matters worse he was wearing a white shirt. It was fucking gruesome, but like a good matador I had to see it through.

I reached way back for the kill shot.....then I heard an ungodly scream "MEEERCY BOY! WHAT HAVE YOU DAAWN!!"  It was Sister Rosalie! I don't know if the blood made her scream or the fact that he was the son of a very influential man (His dad besides being City Manager, was a Major General in the New Mexico National Guard, politically connected and a friend of the Father) Either way I found myself in the shit, she clamped on to my ear and rudely dragged me up the stairs.... excommunicated, Deming style. I was to set foot in the old parish hall no more. Her last words to me: "Aguirre! you will never see the gates of heaven" 

A tip o' the hat to the sons of Eire, 
you hard headed bastards ye'
for you can beat on a boyo
till your arms grow weary 
but the fight is not over
until the Irish say so!

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Nuestra Señora de las Sombras

 "Dios me cuida y ella me guia" (God protects me and she guides me)

Death is not an emotion, it's an inevitable conclusion. The emotional aspect is a human element, for in death.. to our limited knowledge, nothing is felt. The tallyman tallies our sins and sends us down the appropriate path. The merchants of death stand in line with everyone else, awaiting judgement for their foul deeds.  Even stone cold killers believe themselves worthy of redemption in the face of God. 

Everyone, from the bosses down to the sicarios, wants the task accomplished successfully. To this end, they turn to the talisman with the most power to avert disaster.  Jesus Malverde was Sinaloa's version of Robin Hood, a common man transformed into a common criminal by circumstances. Malverde shared his plunder and when he met his fate at the hands of the police in 1909, his story entered into legend. Over the years he's been adopted by the narcos as their patron saint. However, the times they-are-a-changing, one consecrated charm no longer does the trick. The need for an all encompassing patron started to grow. One that would serve both traffickers and addicts, saints and sinners, the wealthy and the poor.

When death is omnipresent, why not turn to it for protection. Thus, Santa Muerte is the new religion ..the new flavor. The cult of Santa Muerte is a syncretism of Catholic and Mesoamerican beliefs mixed with Afro-Cuban rituals. Santa Muerte appears as a skeletal figure, clad in a long robe and carrying a scythe and a globe. (she may also hold an owl or an hourglass) In macabre motherly fashion, this matron looks after everyone without prejudice.

People with nothing to look forward to except death aren't concerned with doctrine. Thus, the declaration of the Catholic Church, that Santa Muerte is a cult with satanic overtones fell on deaf ears. Mexican authorities have linked devotees to prostitution, drugs, kidnappings and murder... but the same could also be said about Catholics ...in much greater number.

The cult of La Nina Santa has spread like wildfire. From the bodegas of New York City to the liquor stores of Chicago and the swap meets of Phoenix, there she is.  Across North America, Santa Muerte shadows Mexico's patron saint, La Virgen de Guadalupe. One represents rigid, unbending devotion, while the omniscience nature of the other forgives our human weaknesses.

The Lady of the Shadows is bestowed offerings of  money, flowers, brandy, rum and often a cigar is clenched between her teeth. People pray for protection, to win over lovers, winning lottery numbers, the death of an enemy, success in business or to move product across the border.  Along the roadsides of war torn Tamaulipas and Chihuahua, shrines to La Flaca are quickly destroyed by the Army. Can't have folks getting worked up over false prophets and shamans, they might lose faith in their government.

In times of darkness a ray of sunshine leads to a shining path, however, if death is your only hope, then you're at the end of your rope. Standing tiptoes on a stool with a noose around their neck has become second nature to most Mexicans. Instead of condeming the organic rise of Santa Muerte, the powers that be should offer alternatives ... fuck! who am I kidding? It's Mexico. My best advice for La Raza... stock up on cigars and rum, Santa Muerte seems to favor them.

The reaper's scythe grows dull from the harvest
this business of death... it affords him no rest
he reaps till they weep, yet they're not satisfied
pobre de ti... pobre de ti

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

The Great Firewall of China

The Soviets, with their Tonka truck technology could never bury us, all along the real threat came from the Chinese.  In the early 1970's, Chinese engineers invented the internet and online chat rooms, recently a defector smuggled out transcripts of some of the first messages ever sent. These missives give us a rare glimpse behind The Great Firewall of China. In  1978, Mine Yor-Tung (Mao's nephew and head of Communications and Technology) defected to the U.S. and sold all Chinese computer secrets to Paul Allen & Bill Gates. He now makes his home in Corrales, where his neighbors know him as Mike.  Meanwhile, The Russians are still tweaking their first desktop PC, which comes with a mid tower case made of pre-fab concrete. Nyet..I know what you're thinking, but it's lightweight concrete.

Mine: a suggestion for your book Chairman
Title: The Pack
The frontrunners wear haughty smirks on their faces, the middle of the pack grimaces with fierce determination, while those bringing up the rear display glowing smiles
Mao: Bleh!!...lol... it needs more work
Mao: I came up with this one
Title: Glory Hounds
The running dog lackeys of the imperial class, grow tired of kibble
they chase rickashaws into cupboards, hoping to get just a nibble
stupid mongrels 
they scratch at their master's door
On their hind quarters they beg for more
stupid mongrels
Mao: What do you think Mine...funny--Yes? 
Mine: crickets....
Mao: What?
Mine:  JK..Chairman....Funny-Yes!!!
Mine: Yes..Yes..Yes (I'm bowing as I send this)

Mao:  Hey Mine! get me the Gang of Four
Mine: Which Ones?
Mao: The first two albums... everything after that sucked ass..LMAO!!
Mao: Hey Mine!
Mine: What!!
Mao: Your mama so dumb, she thinks eggrolls come from chickens
Mine: Chairman...my mother is dead...you had her killed along with all the other capitalist    roadsters when you took power!!
Mao: So...Sorry! Mr. Sensitive 
Mine: thank you Chairman
Mao: thread killer  
Mao: Hey Mine! ... All the tea in Formosa!!
Mine: lol
Mao: Hey Mine! Where's my little red book
Mine: Next to your bed Chairman
Mao: Have you read it?...huh...red it... 
Mine: Good One and yes I have...  : P

Mao: Hey Mine! The Taiwanese are very good at baseball, are we good at baseball?
Mine: We suck dick for skittles at baseball   : ( 
Mao: How about basketball?
Mine: lol... good one...
Mao: We are good in kung fu ... right?
Mine: Only movie stars in Hong Kong actually know kung fu 
Mao: Is Bruce Lee Korean?
Mine: He's Chinese
Mao: cool : )
Mao: what are we good at?
Mine: ping-pong  : )
Mao: That's it?
Mao: F**k Me  : P

Mao: Hey Mine! have the Navy lob a few shells at Taiwan
Mine: Why?
Mao: Why Not!!!
Mine: LMAO!!    XO (that's my o-face)
Mao: Hey Mine! My ass and Richard Nixon
Mine: What?
Mao: Can you tell the difference?
Mine: Frankly...I can't.... : )
Mao: Hey Mine! what's my favorite color?
Mine: Red
Mao: Yes it is!    : ) 

* Yes, I realize the Gang of Four (both the political clique and the band) didn't surface until after Mao's death.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

A Confederacy of Brutes

Ericka Gandara is one of history's tragic figures, a diminutive woman born with more heart and courage than most men.  When the police chief of  Guadalupe, Chihuahua (across the US border from Fabens,Tx.) was found murdered with his head packed in an ice chest, the job suddenly became available. It came as no surprise that nobody wanted the job. The sole applicant, Ericka Gandara a 28 yr. old police radio dispatcher got the position by default.

Guadalupe is located in El Valle de Juarez, ground zero in the war between La Linea and Chapo Guzman. By the time she was sworn in, all eight of the town's policemen had either fled or been killed.  Nobody would've thought any different of Ericka if she had walked away, but the $580 a month salary and a stubborn sense of pride kept her from doing so. 

Her family begged her to keep a low profile, but she didn't heed their advice, Ericka did newspaper interviews and was shown holding an AR-15, which she always kept on hand. Ericka as the sole law enforcement representative for the town of 9,000 residents, openly admitted to being frightened. However she was sworn to uphold the law, and she never veered off that track.

There's an image of Ericka Gandara that appeared in a newspaper. It shows her sitting on the edge of a desk next to her AR-15. She is wearing a purple fleece lined hoodie inscribed with a butterfly and the words "Los Angeles." She is flanked by pictures of the Virgin of Guadalupe, her right eye is bandaged. If this were a painting it would be titled "Woman Contemplating Her Fate"

During her six month tenure Ericka went about her business, she was not a real threat to either of the cartels. Nonetheless, on Dec. 23rd. 2010, at 6:00 a.m., ten armed men showed up at her home, they dragged her to an awaiting vehicle and then set the house on fire. Ten armed men to subdue one small woman, the AR-15 sat unused on her kitchen table.

It's difficult to contemplate how horrendous her last hours of life may have been. One can only hope that she was killed immediately after her abduction and not subjected to torture and abuse... One can only hope. Ericka Gandara's  body was discovered a couple of months later, she was discreetly buried. Her remaining family members not wishing to draw attention from her killers. 

Meoqui, Chihuahua was once a peaceful town, but now the troubles had reached this northern outpost.  In 2009, forty deaths had been attributed to drug related violence in Meoqui. The trend continued well into in 2010, it was no mystery why none of the men wanted the job of police chief.  Hermila Garcia-Quinones a 38 yr. old lawyer, took the dangerous job when nobody else would.

Known as "La Jefa" Hermila, had no previous experience in law enforcement. She was sworn in on Oct. 9th 2010 to head up a police force of 90 officers. When asked why she refused bodyguards or carried a weapon, Garcia-Quinones replied: "If you don't owe anything, you don't fear anything."  A reasonable assumption when dealing with reasonable men.

Hermila dressed well, she was good looking, educated, confident and headstrong. "La Jefa" was in charge, but she enjoyed reminding the men that she was indeed a lady. Garcia-Quinones felt that as a woman and by the force of her personality, she could walk the line between her department and Los Zetas, the dominant cartel in the area... she was wrong.

On Nov. 29th 2010 while on her way to work, Garcia-Quinones was ambushed by a convoy of gunmen and shot to death. A Chihuahua state spokesman described her assailants as "reportedly working for drug traffickers" another classic case of stating the obvious. Hermila held the job less than two months.

Hermila Garcia-Quinones was no less a tragic figure than Ericka Gandara. Both women were probably given a choice of silver or lead and both made fatal decisions. Hermila thought of herself as being in control, Ericka had no such notions. In the end, both died for sticking to their personal codes of honor and obligation.

This story will have a happy ending.  Marisol Valles Garcia, a 20 yr. old criminology student volunteered for the job as police chief  in Praxedis Guerrero, Chihuahua and lived to tell the tale. "The bravest woman in Mexico" as she came to be called, held the job for five months before death threats forced her to flee. Marisol fled Mexico before cartel killers could make their move, and is   now seeking political asylum in the U.S.

Praxedis Guerrero a small town in El Valle de Juarez, is known as "one of the most violent towns in Mexico" Marisol's predecessor was tortured and then beheaded by sicarios, naturally nobody rushed in to replace him. Valles-Garcia a mother of one, took the position "I'm doing this for my people" she said "This is not for me, I'm tired of all the drug violence."

Upon taking the job, Marisol put out word that her office would police the community and not poke around in cartel business. That move bought her some time, but it wasn't long before death threats started to come in.  Officers under her command reported that cartel sicarios were shadowing her every move. They advised Marisol to abandon her post and leave the town.

Perhaps with the deaths of Hermila Garcia-Quinones and Ericka Gandara on her mind, Valles-Garcia grew wary. When several black vehicles with dark tinted windows parked directly across the street from her office, Marisol made her choice. Within a few hours she had picked up her 1 yr. old son and crossed into the United States. To gain asylum status, one has to prove a "well- founded fear of persecution" With two female police chiefs already murdered, it would seem that Marisol Valles-Garcia has a good argument for asylum. 
Our mothers, sisters, wives, aunts, are the keystones that we build our lives around.  A healthy society, is one that holds its women in reverence, one that protects its women and children. Once that basic principle of morality and obligation breaks down, the social structure is forever damaged.  Nothing is sacred and no good deed goes unpunished in a land ruled by a confederacy of brutes.