by Javier Valdez Cárdenas (RÍODOCE)
Journalist Javier Valdez Cárdenas is the founding editor of RíoDoce, an online news outlet based in Culiacán, Sinalo, This article was originally published there under the title “Celebration”.
They tricked him into coming. He arrived in jeans, Stetson, and gun bulging at his front, Chalino Sánchez style. He said a half hello to some guys along the way, steering himself towards the people he had come to see.
But before he arrived they peppered his body with bullets and left it, lying there, smoldering, reddened.
His corpse slumped on the steering wheel. A mix of blood and glass, bits of organic matter strewn around. His killers still got down from their vehicle, checking the corpse. Nothing inside the vehicle was intact. To make sure, they blasted him once with a forty-five to the head, then three more times.
The police showed up a day later, when agents confirmed nobody else was around. They did some investigating, took notes and ordered the corpse carried to the funeral parlor. Then in his relatives’ house, flanked by thick, burning candles, cries punctuated the prayers and people threw themselves to the ground: armed, hooden men got to the coffin, readied their chambers, and blasted him again.
Kids wailed. So did relatives and neighbors. They asked why shoot him again if he was already dead.
Hysteria and fear.
Those already at the funeral home didn’t return and those who were thinking of going thought better of it. Next day, they went to the cemetery. Few cars in a cavalcade led by a white hearse.
They were lowering the body. Pulleys, rope, the undertakers four forearms and the ritual lowering. The ropes and pulleys whined. From a distance the dust cloud warned of another approaching cortege but this time of black trucks at high-speed. They got to the graveyard and parked close. Again people scattered, shouting, loose muscles straining and skin trembling.
Two men got out of the back of one of the trucks. They aimed and fired at the half-lowered coffin. Bullets embedded in the casket and the graveside. The rite of squaring off accounts repeated each and every year: armed men went to the cemetery to shoot the grave up, upholding the grisly celebration of multiplying the murder, burnishing the flame of the first execution.
Curious visitors to the dead man’s tomb asked why they kept killing him on every anniversary of his death?:
"They just didn’t want the guy to rest in peace."