Saturday, June 05, 2010

murder on the willamette

The headline in Friday morning's newspaper caught my eye.

"Arrest made in year-old Salem slaying: Suspect and his brother both found in Mexico, will face extradition."

If the word Mexico shows up in a story I will read it.  But this is the type of story that always causes me to wince.  Stereotypes writ large.

The story is far too familiar.  Two young men get in a dispute.  A gun appears.  One young man is dead.

That is what happened here.  A year ago.

Three young men were sitting on a park bench.  Neither police reports nor newspaper stories tell us more.  But along comes another young man.  There are words.  Meaningful words?  We don't know.

The three virtuous young men think the interloper has gone.  They were wrong.  In one case, dead wrong.

The interloper pulls out a gun.  Starts shooting.  Three men are down.  One never to get up again.

The shooter disappears like an exiled citizen of Verona.  Civil blood making civil hands unclean.

And that is where the tale would have ended -- where a grieving mother believed the tale would end.  But the final act had not yet been staged.

The shooter was found.  In Mexico.  In Zamora, Michoacán, to be exact.  Home to an unfinished cathedral. And, apparently, an unfinished murder investigation.

Now begins the long process of extradition to Oregon.  With its attendant anti-capital punishment demonstrations.  (Despite the fact that Oregon is not Texas.)

If the victim's name had not been Montez and the shooter's name had not been Garcia, I may not have noticed the story.  From the newspaper story, it appears both boys were American citizens.  The shooter headed south merely because he could find sanctuary.  Michael Corleone on the move.

There is talk of the shooter being a gang member.  He certainly has a long list of criminal convictions -- even if he is merely a free-lancer.

What bothers me is the number of my friends who commented on the story.  All with almost the same line.  "I'll bet you won't want to go back to Mexico now.  Lots of violence."

Never mind that the incident was between two Americans.  And it happened in Salem -- not Salamanca.

We bloggers rehash the numbers about how Mexico is safer than most places in The States.  There is violence and crime -- in some areas, far too much.  But I always feel safer in Melaque than I do in some American towns.  Certainly its larger cities.

So, what do I do with this story?  I can blog about it, of course.  And I can set people right when they get their analysis wrong.

Other than that, I can't do much.

What I can do is head to safer harbors in Mexico as soon as I finish my Oregon chores.


Tancho said...

I think I have finally resigned myself to agreeing with them and saying that Mexico indeed is a hell hole, and that they should indeed stay in the US.
There are just some things that you shouldn't try and correct in peoples perceptions.
We know better, let's keep it out secret!

Tom and Debi said...

Oh Steve, you are so right, most want to say/believe Mexico is so dangerous - you know it's not,I know it's not, leave it at that. I no longer feel the need to try to convince otherwise, and may just start agreeing with them and start saying - "Yes, it's a very scary place, best you stay in the USofA!"

Anonymous said...

Whenever asked about the Mexico crime question here in Boston, I always ask if people here feel unsafe because there are gangs gunning each other down in Atlanta, DC, or Baltimore.

The answer is invariably no.

I then point out that Mexico is nearly half the size of the USA and that there could be ferocious crimes taking place in one part, while the other part was an oasis of peace.

Do any of us want to retire to Ciudad Juarez? No.

But Melaque sounds lovely.


Kim G
Boston, MA
Which is overall so safe that people have a completely distorted view of what a dangerous place would even look like.

Anonymous said...

Homo homini lupus


Laurie said...

Here's another stereotype. Every brown skinned person in the US is Mexican. Not Puerto Rican. Not Italian. Not an Arab. Not a Honduran. He's an illegal MEXICAN. No matter that Honduras is 800 miles from Mexico. People wonder about me amidst all those MEXICANS.

Steve Cotton said...

Tancho -- That is a good approach. Less hand-wringing; more staying at home.

Debi -- You and Tancho are on to something.

Kim -- Melaque has its crime. But far less than Salem. Bottom line: it is a lovely place.

ANM -- And often in packs. The human condition is human.

Laurie -- I agree with you. Stereotypes are amazing.