The Mayor of García, Nuevo León, Jaime Rodríguez Calderón, known as El Bronco for his bravery shown against organized crime who have attempted to kill him twice in a month.
"Another person in my case would be at home. Locked in. Scared. I don't have fear, what I have is sadness for everything that is happening to Mexico. We have lost the ability to provide tranquility to the people. I rather be dead that lived than living as dead."
He is sitting in his Jeep. He is a dressed in a yellow guayabera shirt, has graying hair and syrup colored brown eyes. With a frank laugh he jokes that there is no life insurance company that will accept his application for insurance.
On March 29 he survived the second attack. About 20 vehicles with over 40 heavily armed men ambushed his armored Cheyenne classified level seven.
A bodyguard was killed and five wounded, "My bodyguards are the heroes. Besides that truck has saved my life twice, I love her more than my old lady," he says without losing his smile and good humor in an interview with La Jornada.
So far a total of 23 mayors have been assassinated and 126 that are living under threats during the term of this federal government. Security experts have advised him not to leave his home, not to attend official events and keep a low profile:
"Bull shit!" He says as he gets out of the vehicle to attend an public event. "We must work. They think that people will not go to the same places I go because they are afraid that something is going to happen to them. I am a man that is threatened. But look, the people are here. That is what puts tears on my eyes. The affection of the people is what drives me."
After the event five bodyguards, former military officers with long rifles watch him closely. The people piled up around him. A woman kisses him, another one hugs him, and another gives him an image of Christ and says: "You will be under the protective mantle of God. We are many who are praying. May God bless you."
The mayor cannot hold back the tears. He breaks down. Silently trying to wipe the tears running down his cheeks. The women try to comfort him, and gasp as he articulates the first sentence: "I have cried all day." A few minutes go by and he recomposes himself, "God has been very generous to me. He has allowed me to continue here. "
On the sights
They have wanted the PRI politician, Rodríguez Calderón dead since the first day he started his political campaign. The Zetas promised and have not wavered. Four days after taking office, November 4, 2009, they executed his secretary of public security, Brigadier General Juan Arturo Garcia Esparza and his four bodyguards.
García, a municipality in the metropolitan area of Monterrey with 150 thousand residents is infested with Zetas who control the drug business, the collection of quota from businesses and the flow of drugs from Coahuila to Nuevo Leon and eventually to the United States.
When he arrived at city hall as mayor, Rodríguez Calderón closed more than 250 drug shops, dismissed much of the municipal police that had been infiltrated by criminal organizations and started to investigate drug dealers and others involved: "They want to kill me because I don't pretend to be stupid," he says bluntly without beating around the bush as he climbs back to his vehicle that will take him back to the office. He notes: "The previous administration made a serious mistake, they pretended to play stupid. They turned over the city to the criminals."
On the way back there are military vehicles full of soldiers along the road. The Department of Defense sent more than 200 troops after the attack. They are at traffic lights, at gas stations and in the streets setting up checkpoints: "They ask me if we have militarized the city. Well, I am going to fix it and the military is going to help us. That's it. The people want us to make decisions."
After arriving at his office he recounts the hours after the attack: "I am very sensitive about it. I cried like a crocodile. Oh well. In my whole life I have only cried about five times. Now, in two days I have cried like 150 or 200 times. But one thing is for sure, being sensitive is what makes men and women more efficient."
After the attack, he says, he came home at midnight. The first thing he did was to go see Valentina, his fourth child, a newborn: "I saw her and thought, 'Hijuesumadre!' And if something didn't happened? At that same moment she smiled and opened her eyes. I said to myself, 'I am fucking lucky, that is all I need.' When one crosses the line of death and I have crossed it twice this month, you think, 'Dear God you, are indeed great!' Although they want to kill me, my family will be with me forever. Where do I send her and for what? If they kill me, I will leave you enough so they can sell the property."
- And your wife, what does she say?
"In my house I have a bar where I drink my tequilas. And I found her crying. I held her face and said, "Do not cry, I have not died yet. I'm still alive." She replied, "What will I do if something happens to you?" You're going to be a fucking great woman (chingona) and your going to take care of my daughters and you are going to make them good women someday. I am going to die, someday it's going to happen, sometimes you die when you are little, or big, or old, or stupid."
- What do you want to die of?
"I want to die standing, from the front, with an eye on the future, proud of having done the right things in life."
In the last few months the mayor has managed to form a group of about 32 former soldiers with long rifles that make up his personal bodyguard. He considers them like his "sons." "They are very committed, because they come with me, because they are my children, because I take care of them as such and in turn they take care of me like I was their dad. This is the synergy that we have created. "
The day of the attack I was on a convoy of three trucks after traveling in the community of Valle Lincoln. It was 6:30pm and right on the middle of the road appeared the full of surprise. He tells it like if it was an action movie. "I saw them and said, Shit! Fuck! They were all armed, most in civilian clothes. It was an ambush. They got out of their vehicles and started shooting us. They didn't give us time for anything. That caused our escort, one to crash into a pole and the other was against a ridge from the onslaught. It was obvious they had ducked. They managed to get out.
When I saw that there were more coming from behind, I said to Carlos who was driving, get in front of those fuckers and run them over. Carlos of course ignored my order and said, it is better we stay here for better cover. And I told him, fuck no, you drive now fucker, and protect them. And he went on reverse at high speed passing the ridge and we covered them. This gunfight lasted for about 20 minutes. Then they began to retreat. 8 made 40 run away."
- What happened to your five bodyguards that were injured, and one of them killed?
-Agustín Matías Sánchez "El Suave" was covered, but when he sees that they [the attackers] are starting to leave, he goes to the protection zone to cover the other guys and I shouted, "Climb into my vehicle!" And they said: "no way boss, go!" And I said "I'm not going. I'm staying here until you all get in."
- What happened next?
- My men continued to engage the sicarios, while others stopped to render aid to the wounded, because my kids shot down a number of them, something the press has not reported. They loaded the injured in the vehicles and left. And some of them got inside their vehicles and one of them told me to go now, that he would cover them. I turned to tell him the same thing "No fucking way" ... Finally I shouted, "we all get fucked together or we all leave together. I am not leaving anyone behind. We picked up the boys that were wounded, got them in our vehicles and that is how we made it back, with flat tires until the military general found us. He was already coming to give us support.
- When your bodyguards tell you not to go to the events, to stay in the safety of your office, , ,
"I don't give a fuck. I'm going. It's my job. We should not be allowed to be pushed back from the crime. If I stay in the office they can pass by and shoot a hail of gunfire through the window and I am fucked. Then what do I do? Do I go to my house? Should I lock myself in four walls? Should I wear iron walls from all sides? ... What about the people? And our soul, and spirit and freedom, and desire to do other things, where I leave them? I would die.
- In regards to the attack, most dignitaries that are being escorted would have left their guards behind...
"Not me. I believe in protecting those who are there with us.
"Because if that happened in the life of our country, that is to say, if we just took care of ourselves, the crime could not penetrate anywhere. This is all the armor we need, that we take care of each other. We do our communion. That neighbors no longer be afraid and turn in criminals.
- The level seven armor on the vehicle saved you, is that what you say.
"The vehicle sustained numerous gunshots, but since the armor is very strong, it saved our lives. The armor was not decided by me, it was circumstantial, the vehicle had been borrowed from a friend, then we bought it later. It is clear that armor at these times is very important.
Rodríguez Calderón complains about the same thing as most mayors in municipalities ravaged by violence in northern Mexico: the lack of resources to provide security and the inequity of the Federation and the states to deliver it.
In the town of Garcia there are about 160 police officers, but they only have 40 9mm handguns and they take turns carrying them at every shift. The majority of the police officers are unarmed. To make matters worse, they only have 14 patrol cars. The mayor asks himself, "How do we combat crime? We should have 420 policemen, armed and equipped, but we do not have the resources."
- Do you carry a weapon?
- Do you know how to fire one?
- I have never fired one and never will.
- They have never recommended for you to carry a weapon?
"Yes, but what do I do with a gun, perhaps I lose my fucking aim and kill myself.
- Who wants to kill?
"There is a collusion between all the police I fired in November 2009, when they killed the Secretary for Security. And the Zetas are involved. They are the ones who want to kill me.
- Since when?
"From the first day I started my campaign. They also chased me and persecuted me till no end. I knew the risk I was getting myself into. I always knew and I'm not complaining. Always my God first. He places you there and you have to help. And when I need it, he protects me.
- Have they tried to negotiate with you?
- They have never asked and I will never accept it.
- Have they ever appeared to talk to you?
"Never. They have appeared to try to frightened many times. And I'm not scared. My mother taught me not to be scared. They never scared me as a kid with "go to sleep because there comes the witch."
- Do the Zetas want to kill you because you refuse to negotiate with them or because they accuse you of making a pact with the Gulf cartel?
I do not know. I did not make a pact with anyone other than the people. I do not interfere with one or the other. My day job here is to prevent crime, fix the streets, fill potholes, light up the lamp that has turned off, and walk with the people. To enforce the law. The Constitution says that I must provide security and peace of mind to those I govern. And that's what I'm doing. I don't give a damn what those perverse think. I do not care. They don't stop me. I believe in God, and God is here in my office, at church, in the mission and in the temple.
Rodríguez Calderón wears a scapular on his neck with the image of Saint San Benito and a medal of Our Lady of Guadalupe, "I touch them and I feel fucking good. And they work. Yes they work."
Source: La Jornada