Chihuahua Actual, Mexico
I arrived earlier in the day into Chihuahua, a city two hundred miles or so south of Juárez. Chihuahua has a lot of the same things going on for it that Juárez has— cartel related murders, kidnappings, extortion, carjacking and the casual robberies. From local accounts they seem to be worse the further south one goes inside Chihuahua state, and this is evident from the bullet holes still not patched over in the walls and and the adobe houses I’ve seen so far.
No matter; I’ve expected this, even anticipated this… one could even say wanted to see it. Is this too morbid of me? Macabre perhaps? No matter, one should always be faithful to the nightmares of ones choosing as Conrad would say. Upshot; I’m pleasantly surprised when things aren’t as violent. What can I say? I didn’t have to wait long.
Two separate executions/killings occurred in quick succession to one another, multiple victims— two of the victims were teenagers, members of a gang running drugs shot down in a territory dispute, three more a two kilometers away.
One could and often would assume that they had it coming, or that they perhaps shouldn’t have been involved in drug running and gangs— sparing them this horrid end. Take a moment however to consider that the poverty rate in Mexico is above forty five percent, the average family in Chihuahua earns roughly $832 dollar, enough teenagers have near full-time jobs on top of school to support their families, you might begin to understand why some teenage boys in Juárez and Chihuahua would fall into gang life, mule-ing, even playing look-out for cartels.
It’s easy to sit in a comfortably air-conditioned living room, office, bedroom, and cast judgement on people living in areas where nearly half the population is under the poverty line.
21:30, Boulevard Juan Pablo
I make my way to the first of the two scenes. Two boys lay face up within feet of each other, shot in the head and chest— their bodies lie in almost the middle of the road both of them having been checked for weapons and drugs, the police person in question not having taken the time to fix the corpse’s clothing back to how they were found [to be sure, the dead didn’t seam to mind]; the faces haven’t been covered yet.
I walk around the area to get a better vantage point of the scene. Between the taped off area and the spectators, I don’t see any way to frame the scene from ground level which conveys the silence I feel in the middle of the obvious din of the police and the people watching. The Pedestrian bridge above the road seems to give me the best view. There’s nothing glorious about this, there isn’t any dignity in these deaths; there isn’t any peace in these finalities. I climb down from the overpass as the blood begins the congeal on the road and head towards the second scene.
23:15, Calle 29
Getting to Calle 29 was harder than I imagined at this time of night on a Wednesday, this scene was very different from its predecessor— local police were having trouble keeping the onlookers and those known to the victims away from the affected area. Two men, if I could call them that, lay dead on the north side of the street, a young woman who was also killed lay near them, but, for reasons not known to me at the time was covered with cardboard and paper. The three had been walking down the street as gunfire broke out killing the them. It wasn’t apparent if they were targete, nothing in the vicinity of the killing suggested to me that there was any illicit activity prior to the shooting.
The inevitable pools of blood that gathered had foot steps in them, around them, most made by those running to and away from the victims— the acrid smell of copper that seems to follow blood lingers in the area, something I’ve become all to familiar to, even mine own, but this is now and that is if for another time. Snapping back, the angry voices nearby become clearer over the ambient noise of music, police car engines, other cars, I make out that the mother of one of the victim has lost consciousness and her husband has begun arguing with the local constabulary. One can, if one took a second or two smell the grief and anger equally as much as the smell of the blood.
Winding back the film roll inside the camera as I walk back away from the scene I didn’t ask any further about the victims nor did I ask about suspects and or if there were a history of violence in this street and area. I didn’t want to, I didn’t feel it needed be known to me, or to these frames. The silver halide won’t care about the back story. This roll of 400TX film will develop in the light tight tank as it ought to, without judgement, without apathy or empathy; caring little if at all about the fall out from any of this.
I make my way to a bar; live band being a live band there; I order two whiskeys and drink.