Mexicans have a Constitutional right to keep and bear arms. Unfortunately, it isn’t as straightforward as ours. Exploiting Article 10, the Mexican government has severely curtailed its citizens’ gun rights (e.g., closed all private gun stores and channeled all sales through the military). The result has been chaos; some 60k dead in the last four years, thousands of people tortured and raped, millions living in fear, and the complete disintegration of the country’s public institutions. But all is not lost, yet. Some Mexicans still have the motive, means and opportunity to defend themselves from criminals and corrupt government officials. Here’s one hero’s story, re-published with permission from borderlandbeat.com . . .
Techaluta de Montenegro [above] — Three weeks ago, a businessman — the owner of a factory in the southern part of Jalisco– began to receive threatening and extortion phone calls. He reported these threats to the local, state and federal authorities, but they all downplayed his case. Today, he is recovering from a bullet wound in one leg and rebuilding assets that were burned down by an armed group in the early hours last Thursday.
Roberto’s business manufactures children’s furniture, a business located on the Guadalajara-Colima highway that is a source of employment for 150 people. He assures us that he is aware of his social responsibility.
“These days, allowing fear to defeat you is not an option, and to leave everything and abandon those who depend on the jobs one provides is not correct”, he tells EL UNIVERSAL, this man who has known about organized crime for years, after they tried to kidnap his children. Those incidents have caused him to be separated from his family, which now resides in the United States.
“I believe one must learn from experience. At that time, I learned that we need to protect ourselves and take care of the family, that’s why I installed bullet-proof glass on the windows of the house we have here at the factory.”
The businessman was operating his factory in apparent tranquility, although he was aware that violent events related to organized crime had increased in the area. Towards the end of September, a phone call changed everything.
“They knew all my movements”
“They began calling, asking for money, threatening me. They knew everything about me, about the factory, they knew details about my family, personal matters, they had details of all my activities, everything”, he recalls, still nervous.
Days went by and the harassment got worse. A week after the first phone call, he went to the local law enforcement authorities (MP; Ministerio Publico) in Sayula, a municipality near Techaluta.
“I get there and I’m told that the MP agent is busy, and, yes, I can see he’s in his office with the door open, eating his steamed tacos (tacos al vapor). He sees me only after he’s finished eating, only to give me a three-page handout, one of those, ‘What to do in the case of extortion by phone?’ handouts. Feeling helpless, I said that was not the case with me, that it was a serious matter, but he didn’t care.”
“I told him about the phone calls, that they could be traced and that those people had a lot of information about me, and the man tells me that the matter was difficult, that the local Prosecutor does not have the technology to trace calls or to investigate the case. So that’s what I got, a hand-out to defend myself with, ” he states.
After he visited the visited an official with the State of Jalisco Department of Justice (PGJEJ), his telephone caller added new warnings.
“The guy that called me said I didn’t have to ask for protection, that they were there to protect me and they gave me a phone number that only the MP had. They told me, didn’t I know there were officials who were (working) with them?”.
Disappointed, he turned to the local and the Federal Police for help, while one of his friends sought help from the 9th Infantry Battalion stationed in Sayula; both got zero response.
“There at the Battalion, they simply told me that the commanding officers were in the northern part of Mexico, in Coahuila, and that they could do nothing. Then I went to the Federal Police, and it was the same thing, that they didn’t have the staff and for me to file a complaint. The same with the Municipal Police, they didn’t have the staff and were not equipped. They left me by myself,” he complains.
All alone against the world
“I’ve got two registered pistols, a shotgun and I bought a bulletproof vest, the best investment I ever made. On Wednesday, the 10th, we arranged for the delivery of the (extortion) money and they drove me up and down the highway, until 5:00 in the afternoon, when they told me it was all fucked up.”
He continues with his narrative of what happened during the next few hours until dawn on Thursday: “I drove the night watchman to his house, then I shut myself inside the property we have here at the factory and I waited. At four in the morning I see lights outside the house and I could hear somebody was trying to come in and we got into a firefight. I don’t know how long the shooting lasted, but they only managed to hit me on the chest, which the vest covered, and one on the leg.”
After the confrontation, the attackers set fire to two buildings, offices, a warehouse and five cars, then ran off.
“This time, the police–state, municipal and MP– all showed up. There were 20 officers, all very polite, but what for?” he says.
For this businessman, fear is not a possibility: “I’m alive to talk about it. I don’t think we can surrender. It’s clear that in this country you have to be a former governor to be given any attention. Truthfully, I’m not asking for help, only for them not to interfere and to let us defend ourselves if they’re not going to help, but no, allowing fear to control you is not an option,” he concludes.
The Jalisco Justice Department (Procuraduria de Justicia de Jalisco) reported on Friday that it is investigating the incidents that took place before and during the time the furniture factory was set on fire. In addition, investigators from the Jalisco Institute of Forensic Science are already making inquiries.
The agency pointed out that the actions of the Sayula MP agent are also being investigated to determine whether his actions with respect to the complainant were deficient in any way.