Nancy Miriam Valenzuela Lara, was young, attractive, deaf-mute and a star basketball player, factors that no doubt contributed to the gusher of public sympathy—and anger—over her death. Two weeks before the grisly murder of Joyous Heart, an American, had similarly shocked the expat community, along with the increase in the number of home invasions, burglaries and kidnappings over the past year.
[My previous posting about Joyous' death can be found at: http://ranchosantaclara.blogspot.mx/2013/02/ode-to-joyous.html]
According to her family, Valenzuela went to walk her dog and never returned home. Neighbors found her with a bullet through her head and bruises on her upper body. The reasons for the crime remain unknown.
|Two of San Miguel's "disappeared."|
The crowd included both Mexicans and foreigners, and indeed speakers representing each group addressed the crowd in English and Spanish. During my seven years here I'd never seen Mexicans and expats mixing it up so much, shoulder-to-shoulder, except while in line at the Mega supermarket or attending one of San Miguel's innumerable parades, processions or other public to-dos.
Some Mexican participants brought placards with fuzzy pictures of family members who had been kidnapped or murdered, some many years ago, a sight reminiscent of demonstrations for the "disappeared" elsewhere in Latin America. There was a palpable sense of agitation among the Mexican participants: They were pissed with the perpetual uselessness of local law enforcement.
Also in the crowd was San Miguel's new mayor, Mauricio Trejo, forty years old and good-looking enough to star in his own telenovela. He shook every hand in sight, smiled readily and doused the crowd with many, many words but few specific policy nuggets.
|Star power: Our new mayor in action.|
The mayor's refrain was, "Si no hay denuncias no hay detenidos," ("If there are no charges filed, there there won't be any detainees," loosely translated.) He was referring to the Mexican rank-and-file's historically sour relations with police officers, whom they regard with a mixture of distrust and contempt. Most crimes are never solved so citizens most often don't bother to call the police or file charges.
|All I got was this lousy tee-shirt.|
Trejo also preached that respect of the law begins at home with the parents. Duly noted.
He took credit for lighting a fire under the local and state police departments so that the young woman who killed Joyous Heart and an accomplice were actually caught in the next-door state of Michoacán and arraigned approximately three weeks after the murder. He promised that likewise Valenzuela's murderer(s) will be brought to justice swiftly.
Media-savvy Trejo has opened his own Facebook page since coming to office four months ago and it's filled with comments, pleas, complaints and adulation, and photos of both Mexican and American residents. http://www.facebook.com/mauricio.trejopureco
His administration has bought 26 bright-red police cars to replace the blue junkers of the previous administration, fluorescent-green jackets and caps for police officers, and launched a massive program—by San Miguel standards—of public works and municipal sprucing-up.
But let's not allow euphoria and imagery get ahead of experience: Trejo is not likely to jolt the deep-seated inertia of San Miguel's bureaucracy anymore than the new pope, even with an assist from the Holy Spirit, is going teach the curates at the Vatican to do the tango.
But one keeps hoping. On the way home from the demonstration we saw a couple of tourists who had had their car plates removed which is San Miguel's way of making sure you pay your parking tickets.
The tourists matter-of-factly tried to solve the problem—they must have read this in an underground tourist guide—by offering the officer a handful of pesos. With a big, almost ostentatious, smile he walked away from this very public offer of a mordida.
Good show, I say.
|Bonus shot: Taken after the demonstration and |
having nothing to do with public safety.