Saturday, May 14, 2011

Too Sad for Witty Titles

I was going to blog about how crappy the line has been lately, but there's bigger fish to fry tonight.

Today we found out that my husband's best friend from Parral, Chihuahua was murdered on Wednesday. They grew up together in the same colonia and he was like a part of the family. His parents didn't tell us until today because they knew Gordo would be so upset and would go to Parral for the funeral, which would surely end in him losing his job at the maquila. We don't really know who did it or why but don't doubt that he was involved in some type of criminal activity in some way or another. Angel was a wonderful man. He lived with my husband and I in Arizona years ago so I had a lot of time to get to know him. He was goofy and witty and loving and always had a smile on his face. He went back to Mexico a couple of years ago when his older brother was murdered. We just spoke to him on Sunday as he had plans to move to Juarez in the coming week to look for work. He was only 27 years old, with a whole life ahead of him. So why would someone like that turn to a life of crime?

It's simple to me yet so vague to a large portion of America. When you live in poverty and see the neighborhood gangsters who live in mansions driving Tahoes on 22s with brand new boots while you struggle to put beans and tortillas on the table and shower with a bucket of cold water, the decision seems pretty obvious. It is the same dilema we see in American ghettos only magnified times a million. In so many areas of Mexico there are only 2 options to better your life. You can jump the border, or you can stick it out and join the dark side. A teenager taking a 3 month trip alone in the mountains to work in the marijuana fields is a common place in many parts. It's quite a stark contrast to an American teen sneaking off to smoke a joint behind their parents back.

And that's where it gets me... This is really, really messed up. Drugs are bad enough on their own, but when you know (and I mean really know) what it takes to get that ounce, that eight ball, etc? That's fucked up. I have an extremely colored past and did mine, yours, and the kid down the street's fair share of drugs. I've been sober for over 5 years now, but that doesn't take away the guilt I feel now that I know what was involved, the blood that was shed, for me to get high. It's disgusting really.

The part that hurts me the most is the US's view of Latin America. "It's all their fault" and South of the border is just a cesspool of low-lifes, overflowing onto "our" land, etc? Oh wait, I'm sorry, that's with the exception of Cancun of course! Americans love to talk crap about Mexico but can't wait to go vacation here. Spring Break! Margaritas! Souvenirs! Woot, woot!? It makes me sick. Doesn't everyone realize that these people are only giving America what it asked for? Just feeding their addictions? I mean, I don't get it... I don't get how more people don't get it. America has made their bed. America funds this war. An American gun put 2 bullets in Angel's chest and one in his head. American money put that .380 in the hands of his murderer.

I maintain my feelings that I am safe here in Juarez, but I am safe because I am not involved with drugs and crime. I am safe because I can be. I can cross the border and bring home a comfy US salary. If I wasn't doing that, and my husband was here in Mexico alone, what would his options be? He works in a maquila, like millions of other Mexicans, and brings home 2,000 pesos a month. Our rent alone is 2,500 pesos. Enough said. It's no wonder people come to the Unites States illegally or get involved in drug trafficking or human smuggling. I guess the question is how far would you go to buy diapers for your infant? How far would you go to feed your children? How far would you go to stay alive if you had no other options? The answer is all the way.

Do I have a solution? No. Do I know how to heal my husband's broken heart? No. Do I know what to say to the mother who has lost yet another one of her son's lives to give some spoiled brat a bump of cocaine? No. I don't know what to do or say or think. I can just listen to my husband and be sad with him and go on with life.

Tonight we will remember how much we loved our friend, pray that he is in a better place, and hope that someday soon we can find a way to make this world a better, and more peaceful place.

24 comments:

  1. Thank you for posting this, Emily. I've never read your blog before. This was a very sad, very true post. I'll pray for your husband and Angel tonight.

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  2. Emily, I can't even express how incredibly sad I am for you and your husband. Everything you say here is so true. All three of you are in my thoughts and prayers.

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  3. It is exactly that reason why I tell my husband that I respect his decision to jump the border so he could feed his family. And I'll stand behind our punishment too if need be.

    I'm heartbroken that "the drug war" has claimed another life that had potential if only given the chance to be something more than his circumstances :(

    Krystal

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  4. I'm very sorry for the grief you and your husband are going through right now. But this is such a well-stated post. Thank you.

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  5. Emily, you always write really good posts. I'm sorry about your husbands friend and everything you wrote is so true. Sad the way America thinks.

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  6. So sorry for you and your husband. Sending prayers for you guys and the family of the lost. Take Care.

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  7. You,your husband, and your friend are in our prayers tonight. You said what so many people can't find the words or the courage to say. Take Care

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  8. I am so sorry for your friend. Your blog hits the head of the problem. We, too, lost a family member for likely the same reasons. Thanks for saying what you did.

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  9. Hi Emily, I just read this post and it is very sad. I'm sorry for you, your husband, your friend, and his family.

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  10. So sad and so true. I hate that people don't realise that that much poverty is exactly what drives people to work for the cartels. Like you said, if you have zero money and are living in rags, struggling to buy food, and you get offered 5000 pesos for a week's work for doing some not-so-savoury tasks, you're hardly going to turn it down, are you? Really sorry for you and your husband's loss, and your friend's family.

    ~*~

    Ceri

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  11. Emily, just found your blog through This American Life. I was born in El Paso but raised in Juarez for most of my life, living in Juarez and attending school in the US, sometimes even lying about our residency and having an address that belonged to a family member. But this was the reason why. I now live very comfortably in Florida, having the benefit of a US education and lifestyle. We lived in Juarez because that's where our family is and as you said in your interview, where my dad felt more like a 'man'. I love Juarez, but I can say that because I was never faced with the choices many of the residents there are. It's real poverty, with no food banks and shelters to help you out, just relying on yourself to do what you need to do to make i. I look forward to reading more of your blog!

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    1. I completely agree. I always say I don't know how we'd do it if I wasn't able to cross into El Paso every day to work. If we both worked in the maquila, we'd bring home about 4000 pesos a month total. All I can do is shake my head... I can't imagine having to live off of that and I still can't figure out how so many people make it work. It's very sad.

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  12. Emily, My family is from Chihuahua and I was born in El Paso. I am fortunate to now live quite well in Orange County, California, as an artist and a teacher. I have family in Juarez and want to do more to help them as your story hits the nail on the head. I am saddened with your loss and the reality that you write about so well. I just started following your blog after the NPR interview. That, in itself is powerful. Your message is very important to millions of people. I encourage you to keep on writing. I know this is not the most appropriate time to say this, but I see a Pulitzer Prize in your near future. God bless you.

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  13. Emily, I also just found your blog through This American Life. You are a beautiful writer and speaker. Please keep doing what you do.

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  14. I really enjoyed listening to your piece on NPR. My thoughts are with you and your husband and I truly look forward to reading more of your writing.
    Hugs,
    Sarah In San Francisco, California

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  15. So sad for your loss... Such a well written post. This is a great blog, keep it up.

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  16. When people take drugs in the west and glibly say "I'm not hurting anyone" They better think again and have a look at the global impact and the very real and painful impact on families, after yet another life is taken. So sorry for your loss. I am sending my love and thoughts from London, England to you in Ciudad Juarez. I pray for change. xx

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