March for the Missing in Acapulco

March for the Missing in Acapulco

The road has disappeared under a wave of sorrow and anger. In a case of weather mimicking emotions, it is raining and thousands are unintentionally decorated with multicolored umbrellas. The raingear doesn’t hide the posters with faces of the missing. Rather, the umbrellas become a symbol of the lengths to which people will go to get answers.

Photo courtesy of Reuters/Jorge Dan Lopez: Protest marchers in Acapulco, Oct 2014

Photo courtesy of Reuters/Jorge Dan Lopez: Protest marchers in Acapulco, Oct 2014

Rally for answers

I wish the scene was one out of the Emilia Cruz mystery series. Indeed, in MADE IN ACAPULCO, a rally takes place in the exact same place to raise awareness of the plight of those missing in Mexico’s drug war and Emilia must confront her own failure as a cop to stem the tide.

But the rally I’m talking about here is real and took place last week in Acapulco. Thousands turned out for a peaceful protest in the rain that shut down Acapulco’s main boulevard, the Costura Miguel Aleman, in an effort to get answers as to the fate of 43 teaching college students who were taken away by local police in the nearby town of Iguala.

Photo courtesy AP/Eduardo Verdugo: Protest marchers show faces of the missing, Acapulco, Oct 2014

Photo courtesy AP/Eduardo Verdugo: Protest marchers show faces of the missing, Acapulco, Oct 2014

On 26 September 2014, sparked by a protest over supposed bias against teachers from rural areas, the now-missing students clashed with police and masked men. Reuters reports that “Authorities say many of the missing students were abducted by police.”

Authorities have been using sniffer dogs, patrols on horseback and have been sifting lakes in the state of Guerrero, where Iguala and Acapulco are located, to determine the wherabouts of the students. According to the online edition of The Guardian newspaper, 19 mass graves have been found and 28 bodies so far exhumed. None of the bodies so far found have been matched to any of the missing students.

Photo courtesy Reuters/Jorge Dan Lopez: Acapulco protest rally, Oct 2014

Photo courtesy Reuters/Jorge Dan Lopez: Acapulco protest rally, Oct 2014

An arrest

According to ABC News, “Mexican officials announced the arrest of Sidronio Casarrubias Salgado, the purported leader of the Guerreros Unidos drug gang suspected of acting with local police in taking away the students. He was detained Thursday on a highway leaving Mexico City, federal prosecutor Tomas Zeron said.

“Attorney General Jesus Murillo Karam said he hoped the arrest will bring new leads in the case.

“The government is combing the hills of southern Guerrero state with horseback patrols and has divers looking in lakes and reservoirs behind dams, but has not found the youths missing since a confrontation with police Sept. 26 in the city of Iguala. Officers are suspected of turning the students over to the gang.

“Authorities have arrested 36 police officers along with 17 alleged members of the gang. Iguala Mayor Jose Luis Abarca and his wife, Maria de los Angeles Pineda, are being sought for their presumed involvement in the disappearances, Murillo Karam said.”

Related post: Author Dilemma: When the News Writes Mystery for You

Endless road?

The end of this story is still ahead of us, but the circumstances that sparked it–police corruption, drug cartel influence, the endless money to be made from the drug and violence business–have no end in sight. The Emilia Cruz mystery series is fiction, but also a way of making folks aware of what is going on in Mexico.

Related post: Be Angry and Pray Hard

As the first and only female police detective in Acapulco, Emilia Cruz walks a fine line between the corrupt and the dead of her department. Her personal crusade to find out what happened to women who have gone missing in Acapulco is less fiction, however, than it is fact.

2016 Update

The 43 missing students have never been found, although the remains of 1 has been identified. I have decided to use this case as inspiration for a Detective Emilia Cruz novel. The working title is 43 MISSING.

You may also like

CARMEN AMATO

Mystery and thriller author. Retired Central Intelligence Agency intel officer. Dog mom to Hazel and Dutch. Recovering Italian handbag addict.

 

Detective Emilia Cruz series

Find the Detective Emilia Cruz mystery series on Amazon

El Chapo, Soft Power, and Dirty Faces

El Chapo, Soft Power, and Dirty Faces

When I heard that Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzmán, notorious head of the Sinaloa Cartel had been arrested, two things came to mind: Monocle, the British magazine about all things cultural, and a great old James Cagney movie.

Wait. This will make sense.

Soft Power Fiesta

Monocle2Monocle, which describes itself as “a briefing on global affairs, business, culture and design,” is a glorious monthly catalog of worldwide innovation. Every year the magazine publishes its ”Soft Power Survey.” It’s a ranking of the top 30 countries able to exert influence through attraction rather than coercion.

Mexico made it to the list for the first time in 2013 when Monocle gushed about the influence of Mexican food. Mexico rose higher in the rankings to number 24 this year (December 13/January 14 edition) but the entry carried this caveat: “But we all know the problem—Mexico will have won when there are more news stories about its culture and less about drug crime.”

As I read the reporting about extradition possibilities and and who will take over the Sinaloa Cartel, maybe this time El Chapo will fade from view for good. Without the specter of El Chapo, Mexico’s soft power should continue to rise. And it’s about time.

James Cagney as Role Model

It’s a little late in El Chapo’s career to be recommending role models, but at this juncture I’d suggest the late great Hollywood actor James Cagney.

Wait. This will make sense.

cagneyIn the 1938 gangster movie, “Angels With Dirty Faces,” James Cagney and Pat O’Brien are childhood friends who go separate ways. Cagney becomes a famous gangster who is looked up to by street kids. O’Brien becomes a priest who wants to set those kids on the right path. Crime doesn’t pay, Cagney is sentenced to the electric chair and the execution is to be broadcast on the radio. Knowing that the kids will be listening, O’Brien implores Cagney to “turn yellow” at the end so the kids will stop idolizing him. Cagney refuses, but at the very last puts on the act and goes out bawling like a baby. Of course, it has the desired effect on the kids clustered around the Philco and O’Brien knows Cagney did it for him.

Would it have an impact if El Chapo appeared to be a coward in captivity? Would it reduce his status as an idol for so many who seek the narco lifestyle?

Not that I think he’s going to do a Cagney any time soon. Cagney had class.

Grace Before Meals

So I’m taking a line through Pat O’Brien’s character (who played a priest in so many movies I thought he was one) and saying a little prayer that El Chapo fades from the scene and Mexican food propels the country upwards on the soft power charts.

You may also like

CARMEN AMATO

Mystery and thriller author. Retired Central Intelligence Agency intel officer. Dog mom to Hazel and Dutch. Recovering Italian handbag addict.

 

Detective Emilia Cruz series

Find the Detective Emilia Cruz mystery series on Amazon

Pin It on Pinterest