How the world’s most powerful drug traffickers run their billion-dollar business, which explains the situation much better than I can. What never makes the headlines, is how this war is affecting the everyday lives of Mexican people. Wikipedia has an impressive amount of information about the Mexican Drug War and it's effects, but nothing about the everyday folks. As a genealogists, I study history from a personal perspective, and I think this present crisis merits the same careful look.
The Mexican people are paying a huge personal price for this war. Our city of Cuernavaca is at the heart of the conflict. Before December 2009, most of us co-existed in Cuernavaca with drug dealers. Much like in America, we knew there were drug dealers, but they didn't bother us and we didn't do much about it. There was a relative calm, we didn't live in fear, and normal life was peaceful. Sounds familiar? Anyone reading my blog in the US is living in a much similar way. Tell me there are no drugs being sold in your city or town? Someone must be distributing them? Maybe you don't know the dealers, but you certainly know people who consume, don't you? Yet overall, it doesn't affect your life, so you read the Times or the Globe, and you think, "How sad for Mexico" and you go on with your day. We used to do that in Cuernavaca until, overnight, everything changed.
In December 2009, the Mexican Army invaded our town in an undercover attempt to catch an important drug lord. I recall watching CNN when they asked an expert, how big of a fish was Beltran Leyva? "He is one of the 50 whales in the ocean!" replied the homeland security expert. Naively, we thought: "Great, they caught him. Now things will return to normal." They did not. Instead, all bets were off. The vacuum in power this powerful drug lord left, resulted in an all out war which erupted in our streets. The gangs were fighting each other and the army. Within, six months, my husband and I decided we could no longer live in a city filled with flying bullets. We relocated to the States. We were one of the lucky ones—we had choices, visas and job opportunities. Ever since, we have been working hard to rebuild our lives, reintegrate and reinvent ourselves. We try to focus on the positives. Everyday, we feel blessed with the opportunities America has given us: great schools, a beautiful home a wonderful community. Most of all we appreciate being safe! We count as daily blessings things our neighbors take for granted such the fact that our eleven year old can walk to his friends house alone, or that our boys can ride their bikes to the library or take the subway to Fenway park.
Only yesterday, my son commented on the numbers of people outdoors exercising. On our short ride back from school, we counted scores of young women jogging alone. He pointed out, that in Boston, people walk out their door, put on their head phones and without a second thought begin jogging. "They don't even appreciate how safe they are!" he claimed. On the other hand, yesterday, in Cuernavaca, my son's eleven year old friend, watched her mother as a gun with a gun pointed to her temple. How do you get over that? How can this be happening with such high frequency? The drug lords are so powerful, and crime is so rampant, that anyone can get away with just about anything these days, in Cuernavaca. Armed robbery, is considered petty crime, a minor offense. At the police station, her case went to very bottom of a pile of thousands of similar cases. Cases with very low priority (no one was killed), which will never be investigated or solved.
Everyday, more and more people, like me, are leaving Cuernavaca and abandoning ship. No one blames us for that choice. It's a difficult choice. Walking away from a life you've built, at the age of forty, with three children, is not easy. Many of our friends have done the same. School admissions were down thirty percent that year, all across town. Who left? Professionals, business owners, people who employ others. The brain drain is enormous and the economic as well as cultural consequences are difficult to quantify. My husband and I calculated that between us, our businesses andhome, we directly employed twenty-one people. Many of our employees were single parents who supported not only their children but elderly parents as well. They depended on our success and worked hard with us on many fronts. My husband had a thriving pediatric practice. Scores of patients relied on him for their healthcare. To this day, he gets e-mails and calls from patients hoping he will return or asking for advice. We may be safe, but we live with the guilt of having left our home, our city and our friends behind. As successful as the past two years have been, a move is always difficult and every member of our family is continuing to cope with what it means to have left Mexico possibly for good.
It might be upsetting for American's to hear, but in Mexico people are paying for the US's drug war. I strongly believe that as long as the market for drugs in this country continues to boom, Mexico has no chance to recover. If American's will not change their habits, change the laws and consider legalizing marijuana and restrict automatic weapons sales, Mexico has little hope. Mexico, obviously has it's share of responsibility as well. There is enormous corruption to be cleaned up and plenty of people who need to stop using drugs there as well. But the enormity of the market in the US is what is driving the flow of drugs north and the flow of weapons south. Americans have to take responsibility for that. There is an attitude in this country that Marijuana is almost like alcohol. It's not. It's still illegal. Every time someone lights a joint in this country, another Mexican family is paying some kind of price. Those of us paying the price, have to start talking about that, and asking who will pay us back for the price we paid?
|Feigue Gerson (Bulaevsky) and Abraham Gerson|
My husband's great-grandparents who brought the family to Mexico.
I hope you'll join me in supporting my friends in Cuernavaca who are bravely fighting this war, by taking a louder stand against drugs in this America. It's our obligation to change things on this side of the border, so Mexico and cities like Cuernavaca can go back to a normal and peaceful life. I hope Cuernavaca can once again become known as the City of the Eternal Spring and not the City of the Eternal Gang Wars.