Letters from Juarez: “Maria said she kept asking God why.”

24 Jun

We’re interested in Lupe’s letters because they give a personal quality to immigration issues, a story many people encounter on the national news but rarely hear from an individual’s perspective.

Lupe is not the only one is Juarez in such a position. She sent us a letter detailing the story of a family she met. All the violence that we hear about on television is their daily existence. We’ll let Lupe tell the rest.

June 17, 2009

After being in Juarez for a little more than two weeks, I have had the opportunity to speak to lots of different people through my aunt’s friends and through family. Just last week, we went to a First Communion dinner for a friend of my little cousins. There, we had the chance to meet a couple, Juan and Maria. They were very nice and kind. After about an hour, they started opening up about their story. I asked for their permission to share some of it and got the okay as long as their names weren’t used*.

Juan is the owner of a big factory here in Juarez (He wouldn’t tell us the name of the factory out of fear). In the past year and half, their lives have been turned upside-down. When the violence in Juarez started, he had to get extra security at his factory, and he installed cameras everywhere.

Last year, the family bought what they thought would be their dream home. The contract stated that their house would be ready in 6 months. That never happened. The seller ran off with their money.

After that bad experience, they tried again. This time they did get the house they paid for, but after a few months, new neighbors arrived and problems started. A few weeks after the new neighbors moved in, Federalis and military soldiers rushed in and took the neighbor out of his house. His neighbor turned out to be a Narco, a drug lord.

A few days later, the family went to pay for their mortgage with Carlos, the owner of the gated community where their house is located. Not 2 hours later, there was a massacre at Carlos’s house. Carlos was not injured, but his 5 guards were shot and killed. Carlos is now under investigation for selling houses to different people at the same time. Later a woman showed up at Juan’s family’s door, telling them they needed to get out because that wasn’t their house, it belonged to her. They could not believe all this was happening to them. Maria said that she kept asking God why. But she still doesn’t know the answer.

Just 3 and half weeks ago, Juan stopped at a gas station to buy a soda and when he walked out to his car, there were several men, ages 20-25, waiting for him by the car. They held him at gun point and asked him to give them everything. He saved his own life by throwing his keys up in the air and taking off running in a zig-zag pattern. The men took off in his truck, with his work information, house information, and factory keys inside. Everything.

As of last Friday, Juan’s family found out that the main person who held him up was a brother to Maria’s best friend, a friend she has known since the age of 12, a friend who knew everything about them. It was sad to hear them tell the story.

Right now, Juan and Maria have a home behind their children’s school. They drive the ugliest cars they can find and never travel alone. After seeing them again this past weekend, they seemed to be holding up okay. Juan did say that now, when he is driving, if someone is behind him for more than 10 seconds, he takes a different route.

My aunt and I asked them how their religion was and if they were close to God. They said they haven’t gone to church or anything. They have been living in fear. They have 2 boys in third and fourth grade. Right now those boys are all they worry about.

This is a story, I’ve been told, that you hear often here. When you are in front of the person who it’s happened to, you just want to hug them. I’ve been praying for their family everyday since we’ve met them.

The violence in Juarez is ugly. Most of the ones committing the crimes are teenagers and those between the ages of 20-25. They’re boys and girls. Everyday, I hear the stories on the news. Often they show pictures of the victims.

Through all of this, I can tell you that God has put an invisible shield around us. On Friday, we were supposed to go pay Juan and Maria’s mortgage. We have no clue why we didn’t go, we don’t remember what we did. The next morning, we found out that the place we were going had a shooting on Friday at the time we were supposed to be there. God is really amazing. Those kinds of things have been happening to us a lot. Violence breaks out before or after we leave, or we just don’t end up going at all.

I can tell you that I have faith in God. I feel him around me and our family. Fear is not in me. I feel safe.

Lupe

*Juan and Maria are not the real names of the couple Lupe spoke with at the First Communion dinner.

**Neither is Carlos the real name of the man who owns the gated community where Juan and Maria bought their house.

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