Mexico’s repression of public protest has deepened with the passage of new laws granting the armed forces unlimited powers to reprimand, curtail and incriminate whoever they please. Military personnel have been involved in nearly a dozen massacres and mass arrests during the past ten years, one of which I wrote about in Where Gringos Don’t Belong (http://www.amazon.com/Where-Gringos-Belong-Robert-Stout/dp/1937536815). The following is an excerpt from the novel based on actual events:
“Jorge, it’s Juana Juárez. How are you?”
“Bien,” he responded instinctively, picturing Pati’s mother in the nineteenth century livingroom of their Mexico City home. “Have you..?”
“Yes, they let me see her. Yesterday.”
“How is she? What did–?”
“I debated whether or not to call. To me promises are very important—sagrado. But in this situation I feel I must go against my word.”
“I’m not sure I under-…”
“She looked horrible. She’s lost weight, her eyes are hollow, I saw bruises on her face. She hates the prison, the conditions there are atrocious, I can’t even begin to describe them. She hardly could talk, all she could do was cry. She asked me—she made me promise—that I wouldn’t tell you how she looked, how she acted. Jorge, you need to understand, she’s extremely depressed, I’m not sure she really knows what she’s saying. But she said she didn’t want to hear from you, she didn’t want to see you. She didn’t want you to know.
“I’m sure it was the prison talking, that it was what the prison has done to her. But you mustn’t mention that I told you. Our lawyer and diputado Martinez Dorantes from the District here are working to get her released. So is a group there in Oaxaca, the artist Toledo’s group—we’re making a donation to help them. It won’t be long—we’re hoping it won’t be long—and then she’ll want to see you again. I didn’t want to tell you but I feel I have to. It would lie heavily on my conscience if I didn’t.”
He thanked her and sat with the cell phone in his lap staring towards the window but seeing nothing. He tried to bring a clear image of Patricia through the murk but he only could catch fleeting glimpses—the way she’d swung away from him the last time he’d seen her, her desperate phone call overlapped by the heinous voice of the federal police we’re screwing her really good!