I have vowed several times that "this is my last post on crime in Mexico." But the topic just keeps coming back for another visit.
This time two different incidents (one involving neighbors; another involving an acquaintance) have caused me to start re-assessing how to live with one of life's realities. You know the one: as good as life is, there is a lot of evil in the world, and some of it is very close at hand.
Here are the two stories. A Canadian couple owns a house on the beach about four blocks from my house. Last Thursday they suffered a burglary -- the type of burglary that gives most of us goose flesh when we hear about them.
They had retired for the evening to their air-conditioned bedroom -- with their door shut. During the night, a burglar entered through a second floor bathroom window and wandered through their house for almost 75 minutes, stealing some valuable items along the way. He had also armed himself with several knives. They know the details because the whole incident is recorded on their security cameras.
The cameras managed to catch several good images of the burglar. The homeowners copied the photographs and provided them to our local police. Within two days, the police had arrested a suspect. Based on his interrogation, he is the guy.
That tale had a good outcome. At least, so far. I have often doubted that a security camera photograph would be very helpful in nabbing a crook. I was wrong.
What is disturbing about the story is that we have had a series of nighttime burglaries around here -- while the occupants were asleep. I will confess I have spent more than one restless night after listening to those tales.
But the second tale is a bit more alarming. And, so far, it has not come to a good ending.
On Saturday, an acquaintance went to the bank in Melaque. When she returned to her
house, she was confronted by a couple of thugs, who pistol-whipped her,
and relieved her of her money, her credit cards, and her passport. When I saw her Sunday morning, she had the stitches to show for it.
The matter is now in the hands
of the police. Her friends are offering her their support.
But both of these incidents reminded that, wherever I am in the world, I need to
be aware of my surroundings. Even here in Melaque.
After hearing about the first incident, a friend emailed me asking: "So much for your theory that there is no crime in Mexico."
I was a bit surprised that I had such a theory. Because I don't. I have previously commented that Mexico has crime, just like any other place in the world. Including Bend. Just ask my mother.
What has changed for me is that I am tired of being afraid. To quote one of my favorite cheesy movies: "We will no longer tolerate and we will no longer be afraid. It's your turn to be afraid."
And what does that mean? I am not exactly certain. There are all forms of self-defense methods people can use to take back some control over their own lives.
Several expatriates I know in town have legal firearms in their homes. And individual local police officers have advised sevdral of us to purchase handguns.
I have never been an advocate of that approach. But I have read a couple of works recently that give due credit for many of the advances of the American civil rights movement -- from emancipation until 1964 -- with the number of individual blacks who armed themselves within their homes to protect their families. Colt, the gun manufacturer, played off that sentiment in an early advertisement: "Lincoln may have freed all men, but Sam Colt made them equal."
Mexico is not the United States. The laws are different here. The culture is different here. But there has long been a tradition in Mexico of protecting one's family. And, when a family can afford to own a gun, they sometimes do. Legal or not.
I most likely will not take that course. Everything I own is just stuff. And I doubt I could kill a total stranger merely for taking a few trinkets. Human life is too important to me to waste it on trifles.
But armed nighttime burglars and thugs who pistol-whip women are not merely the gatherer of trinkets. It is they who are changing the picture.
And some of us are willing to take up the challenge.
Maybe I need to marry a modern-day Frida -- without all of that Commie angst.