Often times I get asked by people in the U.S. if Mexico is in fact a dangerous place. The short answer to that question is “yes”. However, I rarely get a chance to explain why I consider Mexico to be so dangerous.
I asked Shane if I could share with you some of the hard truth about my country. After being given the “green light” I find my self typing this with the hope that you’ll keep in prayer our missionary friend Shane Clark as he drives down to Camp Laughing Child.
Growing up in Mexico teaches you many lessons. From a very young age you learn that you should always distrust your environment. Life and the daily local news teach you to be fearful; from the violent assault that often times ends up in tragedy, to the cross fire on the main avenues that takes the lives of both innocent and guilty. I’ve seen my country change and be shaped into a melting pot that ranges from small scale violence to large operations of drug trade, war and murder. We are taught that we should just learn to live with it.
I remember crime since I was a little bitty boy. At least twelve people that I know have been victims of kidnapping; all of those cases have remained unsolved, no one has ever been caught. There have been several seasons in which that kind of crime happens almost like a fad, you hear about it for a while, then it stops and then it comes back. As Mexicans, it is an accepted part of life.
Murder is something that had never gotten close to my grounds until this past May in which one of my close friends from college lost his life to a bullet put in his head to steal $2,800 dollars that he had just withdrawn from a bank. This horrible tragedy took place in Puebla, the city in which Shane lives and from which Camp Laughing Child is managed. Like my friend and 2 acquaintances, a lot of people have been shot this year in Puebla for smaller amounts of money. There is a new danger in the streets… “Criminals are now shooting” reads the headline on the news paper. They now warn you to not resist any type of crime that you might be a victim of because criminals won’t hesitate won’t hesitate to take your life. This year there has been a disturbing increase in the number of people that get followed after making withdraws at banks and ATMs and then get violently robbed . Very recently I heard on the news that five assaults at gun point had taken place within six hours at five different bank locations of the city. Like Puebla, there are many other cities that are experiencing this kind of evil.
So far I’ve talked about kidnapping and murder. Another reality in Mexico is the drug war that takes thousands of lives every year. There are several groups known as “cartels” that are continually fighting for territory. Their main objective is to be the rulers of the routes that allow the drugs to make it to the other side. With the U.S.A. reinforcing barriers and closing down old holes that allowed the trade, competition for the remaining ones increases. The innocent are often caught in the cross fire between drug cartels and law enforcement. Drug war violence has very specific targets. Sadly, because of the escalation in security from the U.S.A., the cartels have decided to target americans as a way of sending messages. It was last year that cartels announced that they were going to start killing americans traveling through Mexico. Two senior american missionaries that labored for over 40 years in the state of Nuevo Leon were violently murdered in their own home with electrical cords around their necks. The moves that Moves the cartels are making are unpredictable… We just try to stay as far from it as it is possible and pray.
Now that I’ve gone through murder, kidnapping, robbery and drug war it is time to ask: So, where is the police force when all of this is happening? Can you find justice in Mexico? No. Our “peace keepers” belong to a major network of corruption, low payment and no honor. With minimum wage and no training, police officers in Mexico are only after your money. If you are guilty, they’ll be able to work you for a bribe; if you are innocent, they’ll falsely accuse you of something and then get a bribe. The saddest part is that the general public happily supports the corrupt system. In Mexico you can get away with virtually anything if you have enough money or power to work things your way.
To the previous notes just add the regular dangers of life times 10 (drunk drivers, rape, domestic violence, pedophilia, heavy drug usage, alcohol abuse, etc.). Life in Mexico is a dangerous gamble in which sometimes your life or your loved ones is the price.
To close this text I would like to add that very often when I share the truth about Mexico I hear the following statement: “It is the same here really. Those things happen everywhere”. To those I would like to ask: How many people do you know that have been kidnapped? How many of your friends or the friends of your friends have been shot after going to the bank? How many times have you and your family had to duck under a table in the middle of dinner when the streets open fire? How many times have you been charged with crimes you have not committed and then be expected to give a bribe? How many dead bodies have you seen hanging from highway overpasses? This is how I’ve come to understand that Mexico is in fact a very dangerous place.
Thank you for keeping Shane Clark and Camp Laughing Child in your prayers as they face day by day the reality of life in Mexico, away from safety, peace and justice. Also, thank you for faithfully enabling through your support Father’s dream of reaching to his beautiful children in such a hostile environment.