By: Salvador Camarena
"Desaparecidos" from Coahuila
I've had enough of interviewing victims. I'm tired of hearing them fall apart at the end of the conversation, watching them as they tremble with impotence and fear in the knowledge that no one will help them, not one authority will step before them and respond to their cries.
At first I though that opening up the microphones and putting the victims and/or their families on the air would shake things up, make everyone see these are victims, not just murdered numbers. By making the victim's testimonies public, I sought to to prevent them from becoming simple statistics, just another scene in this tragic landscape.
I wanted their voices to draw us closer to these lives that have been cut short: Like that of Genoveva Rogers, the good daughter who in her spare time volunteered for the Red Cross in Culiacan and was shot to death in February when gunmen entered the clinic to assassinate a rival who was receiving medical attention. We put her father on the air, we grieved with him.
Maria Genoveva Rogers Lozoya being laid to rest in Culiacan, Sinaloa
It seemed like a good idea, to make us hurt, to make us all feel the raw pain, that nobody evade reality, that we be obligated to listen. I say it seemed, because today, it just sounds useless. It's frustrating. Each horrid case surpasses the previous, the only constant is sadness, pain and rage.
We are never lacking victim's testimonies. Among Alejandro Marti's "Si no pueden, renuncien/ If you can't, resign" and Nelson Vargas' "No tienen Madre/ You have no shame, no conscience." fell the cheers and tears of the classmates, friends, and family of Lucila Quintanilla, a 21 year old visual arts student shot to death in a crowded downtown Monterrey plaza Wednesday evening.
Spontaneous vigil at the site of Lucila's murder
If we sought the "voices" of Lucila's friends and family, would they tell us something about Lucila that could change our lives? Would we be moved by hearing about Luci's academic achievements, love of volleyball, cute smile, traveling adventures, and her dreams of becoming a graphic designer? Would we somehow, magically emerge from our state of indolence by hearing the biography of a young girl who was shot down by a lead shower Wednesday evening? I just don't think we care anymore, honestly.
Although my pessimism has been brewing for some time, it reached a boiling point over the weekend. How is it a tragedy involving 33 miners has mobilized an entire country, but in Mexico no one has even pressured authorities to recover the 27 men from Michaoacan who were kidnapped over a week ago in Acapulco and Colima? The Chileans went to any and all lengths necessary to find the manpower, machinery and technology which would insure the successful rescue of their men. Have any of us even prayed?
On Monday, before really thinking about the futility of interviewing more victims, we had a family member of one of the kidnapped men from Michoacan on the air. At the end of the interview, he asked permission to leave a message. The relatives of these 20+ missing men all came to the same conclusion as The Juarez Journal newspaper: Why go to the authorities if they have no power?
Instead this man left a message for the criminals: "I ask of you, the people who are holding them captive, with all of my heart, to release them. You must know by now that they are humble people, they are working people who don't have or want any problems with anybody. And if they are listening, that they know we love them and we, their families, are all here waiting for them."
I don't want to interview victims, I'm done. I'd rather put on the air people who are fed up and are tired of the excuses given by inept authorities, such as the Governor of Nuevo Leon who after Wednesday's downtown Monterrey tragedy, made light of the situation by stating these violent public attacks were not unique to his state, they happen everywhere.
How comforting those words must be to Lucila, they must bring great peace of mind to her family. What a relief.