|Photo by: Cuartoscuro|
By: KYHB, Animal Político Reader | Translated by Valor for Borderland Beat
This article is part of a digital project by Animal Político called “Aprender a Vivir con el Narco” (Learning to live with El Narco) released in late 2015.
The first violent incident that I can remember was in December 2007. They had killed a man in a hospital in Taxco and the news echoed in my city. Taxco is a city with more than 50,000 inhabitants, but it’s a “village”, so the event was told to me by word of mouth until it got to me.
The next thing was something that I at first didn’t understand. I took a bus on a daily basis to the high school, it hadn’t even dawned yet, but there was an open truck with its lights flashing on the road, the floor was wet, I remember because I thought it hadn’t even rained that morning and it was strange, I would later learn that that moisture was actually blood.
My boyfriend, who at that time worked at a small newspaper in the municipality, told me, as he had been called in the middle of the morning to accompany a boy to take pictures of the bodies that had been there. He wasn’t even 17 years old.
On one occasion, we were left confined in the high school, we were there for an hour and a half after our departure time, a shooting had occurred a few meters from the school and the teachers forbade any student from leaving.
An event that most taxqueños remember is the event that occurred on Holy Thursday of 2009, when I knew what panic was on the face of a person. The Procession of Christs, typical of that time, was dispersed. Most of who accompanied fled except for those who were carrying the sacred images and penitents, carrying rolls of thorns on their shoulders. People spoke of masked men firing into the air, raising the hoods of the penitents to reveal their identity.
Two years ago, I was heading to my home, when turning to the street, there was a police car blocking the way. I asked a woman if she knew what had happened and she said she had heard gunshots and looked like they had killed someone. Full of anxiety, I managed to go down another alley. It was reassuring when I got home and saw that my whole family was there and it was fine. I don’t even live in an area that can be considered to be dangerous.
Another thing, that I now see as something funny, is the time when they wouldn’t let me leave my house during my favorite holiday, which is Day of the Dead, because some inept had called saying that they had the house under surveillance from his truck (unlikely because we live in the middle of a village without direct access to the street) and that they would kidnap my sister (they knew her name) if we wouldn’t deposit them a large sum of money (which we obviously didn’t have). It was nothing more than just a shock, but I still remember it.
For some years now, I know about the morbidity and yellow journalism. I pass by newsstands where I see pages displaying images that can only be found in a criminology book or a document of a forensic expert. I see my own mortality reflected in those dead bodies. It upsets me and sometimes I feel that I’m the only one that it disgust or saddens, or thinks that it’s a lack of respect for the person who once occupied that body. I can’t surrender to the indifference or to normalize it.
I can’t feel normal or indifferent when someone I know disappears and, in most cases, does not return. I don’t feel normal when my mother reminds me that “in her time”, kids could play until dawn in the streets, that the only danger that a girl experienced going out at night was that her boyfriend stole her.
I don’t feel normal living with paranoia, thinking all the time that I’m being persecuted and haunted. I don’t think it’s normal to have recurring nightmares in which they take away from me my parents, my sisters, my uncles, my partner, and I can’t have them back because all I have is helplessness.
No, it isn’t normal that my 10 year old cousin wants to be a narco when he’s older, nor is how people go down the street listening to corridos chronicling the “great deeds” of crime. Those corridos seem like a mockery to all those people who lost someone and for us to fear that the same thing happens to us. I see our frailty when stories become numbers in a count. The apathy of some people is incredible who justify the killings of six people and the disappearance of 43 students in the neighboring city for “being troublemakers.” I think that they try to convince themselves that the tragedy will not reach them while they don’t move and stay quiet.
Taxco is a tourist town, it’s clear that our authorities are trying to make it look like a different reality, a paradise island in the sea of horrors that we have lived through in Guerrero since 2006, when this useless war started.
The Government of my town has a media campaign to promote Taxco. Since it began, violent incidents have gone down (and if they haven’t fallen, it seems to have some discretion). It gives us the impression that we live a little safer and I know that I probably can’t live without fear or at least with the same security that I felt when I was 13 or 14, but nevertheless, I feel lucky.
I love my city after all and I really think that it’s a good place to live and not just a retreat that has been created with the purpose of being visited. I refuse to normalize the conditions in which many of us live in, but I also appreciate that I haven’t been displaced from where I live due to organized crime, that I haven’t been kidnapped and that I have my family with me, that no one close to me has died in an inhumane way, and that I haven’t experienced raw terror. I appreciate even banal things like being able to go for a coffee at night fall, I appreciate my position as an average citizen in a country where the limits, are increasingly blurred.