Tuesday, February 8, 2011

My Mexican friends' difficult choice

Over the past couple of months, a Mexican friend of mine has been harassed by two policement demanding he sell drugs and split the profits with them. Up front I'll tell you when he was a teenager, he was hanging out with friends on a corner in Guadalajara when a patrol truck stopped.

Several police got out and began harassing the kids and one policeman, unprovoked, pulled out his pistol and shot my friends lifelong best friend. Nothing was reported, the policman was never charged.

My friend could not live with this. That so many people had witnessed such a blatant killing by a cop in the presence of other cops who said nothing, on a public street but were too afraid to report it.

So my friend, full of wrath, gets a pistol, waits one night til the assassin cop and his partners stop to harass another group, pulls out the pistol and kills the cop in front of everyone who knew why. He dropped the gun, the police beat him nearly to death, he was tried, sentenced and sent to prison for 7 years.

In prison he acquired several tatoos and began wearing his hair back with a ponytail, this makes him look like a cholo (gangster) though in fact he's a very nice guy, honest and trustworthy. He doesn't smoke or do drugs and makes his living cutting lawns and doing odd jobs.

Unfortunately, here in Mexico the drug culture has corrupted some police officers for profit and for some, under threat of death for them and/or their families should they resist or interfere with drug trafficking.

Now I've known my friend for about 3 years now and he has washed my truck, cut my grass, cleaned up my backyard and whatever other chores I pay him to do.

I knew some of the police beat Mexicans and are almost never reported since most are afraid of them. I know many police and on good terms with them but they treat extranjeros (foreigners) differently than how they treat Mexicans, especially if you don't have a regular job with family or wife to fall back on. The few who are rotten, crooked cops prey on single guys, beating them, stealing from then and trying to make them sell drugs as they have done to my friend.

Maybe four months ago he was very worried and began telling me there was one local cop who had threatened to kill him and dump his body in the country if he didn't sell drugs and split the profits. He showed me two cellphone messages from this cop and I urged him to print them out as evidence. He doesn't know the name of the cop but describes him as white hair and fat, not a clue.

He came by today and was very worried and almost crying. He said this rotten cop had teamed up with some city official to file a false demanda accusing him of being caught with a gun. He has no gun but he fears the cop is setting him up to be killed.

The cop told him a warrant would be filed with his ID card and photo that this cop took from him, in the presence of his partners. The cop told him you WILL sell drugs for me or I WILL file the demanda in 8 days (due in a few days).

My friend tells me they can easily shoot or stab him and claim he was involved with drugs or gang activity which got him killed, so he would die an ignominious death on the whim of a crooked cop.

I don't have a clue how to help him. He was shaking and almost crying, left with no options. His sister lives in Guad and will let him stay for short visits but not live with them because they don't have the space.

He has no one to help him and the only way I can see for him out of this is to hire a lawyer and he will wind up paying a big bribe (multa) to the cop to recant and cancel the fake charges. But he will still be beating up my friend and 'insisting' he sell drugs if he remains in his small town.

Having been here long enough to have heard of these outrages, no one I know has actually been embroiled in one of them.

He tells me he has spoken to the commandant but because of his record of a vengeance killing of a cop, his word has no value to any cop or court. It is the crooked cops word against him. I know him and he can barely afford food everyday, let alone a pistol or even bullets for it!

It is not my business or my culture but I feel so sorry for him to be put in this position when he never bothers or hurts anyone. I told him he has only a few more days to decide and move on that decision, else they will find him, throw him in jail, possibly kill him to avoid the paperwork and thats that. He knows this and says he is thinking he'll have to live out in the country, living in a cave, having to hunt for or steal food just to survive.

How can he fight this false warrant and charges if no one will believe him? He has no money, regular income or support system to help him out. In the states there are pro bono attorneys and groups who will help out in such cases but here, I don't have a clue.

Tried to calm him down and make him think clearly.....my suggestions to him;

1) I will ask my lawyer what he would recommend but in the meantime, he must
2) change his cholo look to not stick out so much
3) pack his clothes and move to another town where no one knows him
4) start fresh, stay under the radar until he figures a way to fight this
5) there is the option of a fake ID but the tatoos give him away
6) there is also the option of fighting fire with fight to retrain this crooked cop

Most of these cost money he doesn't have and time he no longer has. He kept saying he only has a few days more so we devised a plan that will spirit him away to find a new life. As I understand it this warrant to date is a threat, maybe just a printout with his ID card and photo to scare him since he knows nothing about such things.

Who knows how deeply involved this cop and others might be with organized drug gangs who think nothing of taking a life, so I'm not in any position to be taking a stance or risking my own life trying to help him out.

No question I feel very sorry for him to be in such a position and I don't see any quick way out of it...so best thing is to buy time and maybe it won't even happen.

Of course we worked out a plan that we both think will save his skin, get him a chance for a new life and possibly it all goes away. I don't know but I will speak with my lawyer and maybe something else will turn up to bail him out of this miserable situation inflicted on him by a corrupt cop and a corrupt city official. If it has even been filed or recorded.

I told him it would so help to have the names of these guys but he doesn't know that...best I can do is help with this plan and front him some money to make it so.

We were very sad to say adios for such idiotic nonsense, but this could be a deadly situation for him, so best to change his life. So unfair...we will maintain contact and I'll see if my honest police friends can find some things out for me, specifically has a warrant been issued for him?

Perhaps there will be no actual warrant and its just a scare tactic...for now, it sucks for my friend who has to leave his house and possessions to save his life.

Count your blessings for your families, friends and honest cops who have better things to do than harass citizens for mischief, pleasure or profit.

This follows what happens in many states in Mexico where drug cartels force farmers to grow drug crops under threat of death, or they STEAL THE LAND, kill the farmer and his family or run them off with NO MONEY PAID for what they took.

The best thing the USA and Mexico could possibly do is learn from Prohibition, legalize drugs and copy Portugals' way of dealing with addictions.

The wars stop INSTANTLY, people can buy recreational drugs at will and pay taxes which will help support treatment centers for addicts. I don't do drugs but I know not everyone becomes an addict, oftimes destroying their lives in the process.

Gave my friend enough money for food, travel and some setup, then we hugged with some tears...so sad..such a good guy, he doesn't deserve this. I told him it might turn out to be a good thing for him, to find another place where he can build his own family and life. Wished him good luck and we will stay in touch. So sad...