Asi es la vida--such is life in Mexico.
I've been in and out of Mexico recently, working with our field team on the ground. The stories I've come across in the short time since we started working here have been disturbing. Today, a lady came to us with tears streaming down her face, begging for help, since her two brothers had been kidnapped two days ago. The ransom is a million pesos (about $85,000). She recounted to us what had happened...
About a week and a half ago, a local cartel called together every junk and scrap metal recycle business and demanded 30,000 to 150,000 pesos ($2,500-12,750), depending on the size of their business, in exchange for permission to operate and protection from other cartels and police extortion. They gave everyone a week to pay up. A week later (two days ago), they came to the home of this woman's brothers to collect 100,000 pesos. The family had already paid 40,000 pesos in the form of a vehicle, but needed three days to come up with the remaining 60,000. When the collectors arrived, the teenage sons pulled an empty gun on them. Suddenly, several cartel hit men spilled out of vehicles with loaded guns. The boys ditched the gun and ran into the house, escaping out the window and over some rooftops as the cartel gang followed in angry pursuit. The cartel collectors then kidnapped the boys' fathers from their own home, since they were the business owners. Now they are demanding 1,000,000 pesos for ransom.
I wish this story were unique, but unfortunately we hear stories like this every time we talk with our field team or read the news. "Así es la vida," as they say here in Mexico. Such is life. But that doesn't make us apathetic. It only confirms our reasons for reaching this tumultuous land with hope, love and alternatives to violence.