Saturday, June 27, 2009

I wonder how many decisions the average person makes in a day? (Or, dying for a hamburger!)

Recent news in the local El Paso Times has me reflecting on how many times a day we face choices, weigh alternatives, then make a decision? From little things we opt to just do on the spur of the moment that we need or want to do, to bigger things like whether to go to the store this afternoon, "or is it something I can put off until tomorrow?" I'd be curious how many each day. Hundreds? Maybe even thousands?

Most decisions are innocuous. Sometimes fortuitous. And once in awhile horrendously tragic. A case in point on just how tragic some decisions can turn out is illustrated by a couple of examples of decisions made that, at the moment, seemed harmless enough.

I. Take for example 15 year old Alejandro Raymundo Perez of El Paso. For whatever reason, he lives here in the U.S. with his sister. He just finished his freshman year of high school. With school out for the summer, he decided to visit his mother. She lives just over the border in Juarez, Mexico.

And so, Wednesday, as Alejandro was standing on a Juarez street corner with his cousin, he was gunned down. With wounds to his torso and head, he died almost instantly. His companion died shortly after arriving at a Juarez hospital. For what reason, we don't know. Maybe for no reason. For this is Juarez where the very social fabric of society is being shredded by an ongoing drug war that has emboldened organized gangs and petty thugs to believe they rule the day. Apparently they do, for the last 18 months of ongoing mayhem has seen 2,300 murders in that city. Most all of them unsolved.

Alejandro's decision to visit his mother may have been a bad one. Or maybe it was a subsequent choice he made to go looking for his cousin, or one that followed that took them to the corner of Emilio Carranza and Gabino Barrera streets shortly before a car passed with armed occupants. Whatever it was, somebody made a bad decision. The results are non-negotiable. The shooters remain at large. But that's just the latest example of a sequence of decisions leading to the ultimate one that got a couple of kids killed this past Wednesday evening . Other El Paso youths who Alejandro joined this week preceded him, also as a result of bad decisions no one could have foreseen the consequences of.

II. On June 13th, 11 year old Priscilla Ibarra Alfaro, who was a seventh grader at an El Paso middle school, made the decision to go with her cousin, to walk to a Juarez hamburger stand. She never made it. In what I call "dying for a hamburger," Priscilla was gunned going for a burger she never got.

III. Someone in the Lozoya family decided they would attend a family gathering in Juarez on May 16th. It turned out to be a tragic decision, for 15 year old Tania Lozoya who accompanied them was struck in the neck by an errant bullet. Tania died, ending what was otherwise intended to be a happy get together among relatives.

IV. On May 30th, a Mexican gunman fired 31 rounds from an assault rifle. Sadly -- or perhaps happily for the gunman -- he hit someone. It was 17 year old Edgar Guzman Ortega. Ortega had attended a local El Paso area high school until deciding last fall to return to Caseta, a suburb of war-torn Juarez. While Ortega's decision to return to Mexico wasn't his last, it was undoubtedly one of his worst.

These are just a couple examples of El Pasoans who have died in the crossfires of the seemingly endless Juarez drug war. They are the children of El Paso. And while I've simplified what brought them to these moments as bad decisions they or their families made, that is only half of it, for their were the decisions to pull the triggers on weapons of death that found these children as well.

And perhaps even more significant is the invisible line drawn on maps that separates the communities of Juarez and El Paso. Communities that are really inseparable. No lines drawn on maps by cartographers, or demarcations decided by nations as the result of compromises arrived at or agreed upon by politicians can alter the fact El Pasoans' family members are being endangered, killed, because they tend to do what families do -- despite invisible borders -- gravitate toward the company of loved ones. But those desires between relatives are proving, more and more lately, to be deadly.

Sadly, that's how decisions we make turn out sometimes. Very tragic.


Fran said...

hard to fathom.

Dada said...

Fran: While I focused on the kids from El Paso who have recently died in Mexico's drug war, they CAN (and most often do) come home.

It's the children of Juarez who can't. They ARE home. This IS their lives (and in some instances, deaths).

While I don't know the numbers of those children who have been wounded or murdered, they are far too numerous but, hey, they are Mexicans, it's a Mexican problem, not ours, right? (yeh, right)

D.K. Raed said...

I was gonna say maybe any decision that involves Juarez should be decided in the non-Juarez direction. But as you point out, the two cities are really inseparable, as are most "border" cities, so that's not practical. kinda like cutting off your arm if it won't fit in your sweater. there's gotta be room for everyone.

Fran said...

I remember when you used to visit Juarez- writing what a quaint little town it was, like going back in time.
Not anymore.
How did humble Juarez turn into killing fields?

Border Explorer said...

This is one of the very best pieces of writing I've encountered on the situation. It is very hard to communicate the reality of El Paso/Juarez. You did it here very well. I wonder if we could use this at a little presentation we're giving later this month. I'll contact you via email.

Dada said...

If there's anything in this blog you can use, BE, know it's yours for the taking!

Thanks for the kind words. I enjoyed working on this one, sad as it is.