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Story pick: La Violencia

By Theresa Vargas

Maybe because I’m from Texas – and my family is still there – I’m more interested than the average person in Mexico’s drug violence. But I find myself reading about it constantly, fascinated and horrified at how it has escalated in my lifetime. I remember when my family’s biggest worry when crossing the border was how to resist the urge to help every begging child.

Point is, I have read plenty of pieces about the violence there, but few have so vividly captured the current atmosphere as this piece this month in Guernica magazine. It begins with a mother whose sons “were among people who would laugh while cutting someone’s fingers off, or chop someone into pieces for fun.”

“How well she remembers those days. How could she ever forget—when the Juniors, as they became known, were in their prime: flashing their wealth around Tijuana, dripping gold with a scantily dressed beauty hanging from each arm? Cruising in their SUVs, taking over nightclubs in which they would drink only champagne. Cristina Palacios Hodoyán, lighting ultrathin cigarettes with a gold lighter held in her ultrathin fingers, remembers them with a sorrow in her eyes that even her polished demeanor cannot hide. How could she forget the Juniors, when two of her three sons were among them? The eldest, Alejandro, was kidnapped twice—once in 1996 and again the following year, since when he has never been seen again. The youngest, Alfredo, became known as “el Lobo,” the Wolf, and is serving 176 years in a Mexican jail, convicted of multiple murders and criminal association. “I had wanted them to become lawyers, or go into their father’s business as civil engineers,” their mother reflects. After finishing her cigarette, she picks at a smoked salmon sandwich, at a table in the Merlot restaurant, near the Tijuana Country Club, where the better class of people go.”

It’s definitely worth a read.

By Theresa Vargas  | November 17, 2010; 9:22 AM ET
Categories:  Story Picks  
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