Tag: Mexico

indexLatin America continues to struggle with poverty, gangs and rising murder rates.  Central America and northern South America are rife with turmoil due in part to the continuing pattern of political instability.  The surge in homicides have made the region one of the most violent places on earth.  Honduras is now the deadliest country in Latin America and has the highest murder rate in the world.  The devastating effects of famine and economic depravity have combined with the proliferation of MS-13 (Mara-Salvatrucha) to make life utterly unbearable for the majority of Hondurans.  The rise of MS-13 and other Latin American gangs has not gone unnoticed.  The gang culture has spread north and taken hold in the United States with California becoming a stronghold of gang activity.  And shockingly, nearly half of all gang members in the United States are Hispanic American.

Beginning in 1973, the Federal Bureau of Investigation began to watch a new gang that proved to be as violent and ruthless as any this country has ever seen, the Mexican Mafia.  They have been glorified on the silver screen, most notably in the film ‘American Me’ starring Edward James Olmos.  But the reality is that the real Mexican Mafia is far stronger and far more dangerous than portrayed in the film.  Rene “Boxer” Enriquez teams up with author Chris Blackford in recounting his life as former member of the gang, telling all in this memoir that is guaranteed to leave you speechless.  In 2003, Enriquez was still a ranking member of the gang, but the loss of several loved ones, a brother with health issues and the realization that the gang he swore allegiance to didn’t swear allegiance to him, he decided to step away and become a cooperating witness for the U.S. government.  His testimony has proven to be critical in the apprehension and subsequent incarceration of members of the Mexican Mafia.   He has also become a motivational speaker in the hope of preventing young men and women from making his mistakes.   As of today he is still incarcerated and the possibility of parole is uncertain.

It is with remarkable courage and self-examination that Enriquez is able to tell us his life story.  He does not glamorize the gang life and admits to his failures.  The book is gritty, sad but the reality that awaits young men and women enticed by the fast lifestyle enjoyed by gang members.  Sadly, there will be young adults who readily accept a life on the streets believing that they are invincible or too intelligent to make the same mistakes as Enriquez.  But there others who may read this book and make a decision that will ultimately save their lives.  So take a seat and follow Enriquez as he takes us deep inside the Mexican Mafia and all that is has to offer.

ISBN-10: 0061257303
ISBN-13: 978-0061257308


113869301Beginning in 1993, female homicides in Juárez City, Mexico began to increase at an alarming rate.  The overwhelming majority of the murders remain unsolved. Families have in some cases pleaded with authorities to no avail.  Justice has been transformed into an elusive concept far removed from the reality faced by hundreds of parents that have suffered the loss of their child. Juarez was founded in 1659 and sits across the United States border from the town of El Paso, Texas.  In 2010, there were on average 8.5 killings per day in Juarez City.  Drug cartels and drifters from the U.S., turned the city into one of the most dangerous places on earth.   However, in recent years, the murder rate has declined and the city continues to make progress in reinventing itself and its image.  But the struggle with its dark past and the deadly trend of femicide continues to haunt not only Juarez but Mexico itself.  Teresa Rodriguez, a correspondent for Univision, conducted her own investigation into the murders resultng in this chilling and informative account that reveals the severity of an epidemic that continues to plague many parts of Latin America.

Their names are not known worldwide and their families are simple and hardworking.  But their murders and the inaction of the Mexican government combined with the complicity of local police, reveal a system in which officials are either unwilling or unable to stop the crisis that has gripped the country.  In their faces we see our sisters, nieces and friends.   Most of the victims are from poverty stricken areas who work long hours that scarely pay minimum wage. They are faced with long commutes on deserted stretches of roads that serve as a haven for criminal elements.  Some of the women are never seen again becoming yet another statistic in a growing list of horrific crimes.  Rodriguez’s book is a dark premonition of things that will come if the Mexican government fails to address the crisis.  For hundreds of women in Juárez there is no justice and their families are left to grieve without the benefit of closure.  Their cries have been ignored and the trend that was once confined to Juarez has now spread to other parts of Mexico including Toluca, a city I visited in December, 2013.

I warn readers that this book is not for those faint at heart.  The repetition of violent crime and report thereof will test the resolve of anyone who decideds to read this book. A happy ending is not to be found here. But what the author hopes, is that focus is placed where it needs to be and that Mexico can reverse a chilling and disturbing trend.  Some readers may be familiar with Juarez and may have even visited before.  Your observations may coincide with what Rodriguez says or may be slightly different. But what is evidently clear is that femicide will not go away on its own and the deaths of the young woman we learn of here should be cause for high concern.

Mexico is a beautiful country, full of history, good food and welcoming people.   Yet it is also plagued by a deadly system of violence.  Vice News, the international news organization based in Brooklyn, New York, recently did a story on the rise of the female homicides in Mexico and the struggles the families of the victims face in obtaining justice.  The Mexican people face a long road in reversing the disturbing trend of murders but as more attention is drawn to the crisis, it might result in long overdue action by the Mexican government.   And authors such as Teresa Rodriguez will continue to do their part in seeing that justice is finally done.

ISBN-10: 0743292049
ISBN-13: 978-0743292047

Latin America