by: John Rodriguez
When there was no one else to take the job, Marisol Valles Garcia was hired as Police Chief of a Mexican border town known as, Praxedis G. Guerrero where a drug war continues to wage. Stepping up and taking a position that would mark her as a target, the 21-year-old college student and mother agreed to become the town’s Police Chief when no one else applied for the job back in October. Despite the beheadings of city officials by warring local gangs, Garcia took the job and overcame whatever fears for the good of her community. But today, rumors have stirred that Garcia fled the country seeking asylum in the United States and as a result has been fired and is no longer the Police Chief.
A criminology student, Garcia took on the task as Police Chief of the town and said she would focus on administrative tasks and projects that would build the community, and would not take on the drug cartels that have been stirring fear throughout law enforcement agencies throughout towns along the Mexican border. Despite her endeavors to avoid them, it has been reported that Garcia became the target of intimidation. A relative of Garcia told AFP news service that Garcia had been contacted and “received death threats from a criminal group that wanted to force her to work for them.”
On Friday, March 4th, it was reported that due to intimidation and death threats, Garcia left the Mexican town with her family and fled to United States, according to reports made in El Diario. A spokesman for Praxedis G. Guerrero, Andrew Morales, commented on the report to the El Paso Times stating that Garcia was expected back at work on Monday after taking time off to deal with a family matter and the reports about her seeking asylum are rumors since Garcia was in the states seeking treatment for her infant son’s lung ailment. But Morales was later quoted saying, “If she doesn’t return to work (on Monday) she could be removed, though that would be up to the mayor.”
And so Monday came, and Garcia was out of the job as Police Chief. Gustavo de la Rosa, a Chihuahua state human rights official, told reporters that before fleeing Garcia had received death threats and a local government employee accompanied Garcia, her son, and husband to the international bridge that crosses into Fort Hancock, Texas on Thursday. According to de la Rosa, Garcia’s intention was to seek asylum. A spokesperson for the U.S Homeland Security had no comment to the claims stating that, “Asylum applications are confidential under immigration law, and we may not discuss information regarding whether an individual has not filed an application.”
Garcia is—was—not the first female appointed Police Chief of the Mexican town, and in fact female chiefs have become a growing trend within the country. This trend that was to help ease towns has resulted in disastrous outcomes so far. Since Mexican President Felipe Calderón embark on his war against the local drug cartels, Police Officials have become a top target for members of the cartel. Fearing for their lives and the lives of their family, many police officers left the force leaving vacant spaces. Believing if women took high-powered positions, the drug cartel would not act out against them.
So like Garcia, Erika Gandara became Police Chief of Bravos, Mexico and Hermila Garcia became Police Chief of Meoqui. Like Garcia, both women were praised for their courage and heroism for taking on such a task. Fortunately for Garcia, if reports are true, she has avoided the same results as Gandara and Hermila. Gandara was taken from her home in December by armed gunmen and hasn’t been seen since, meanwhile Hermila Garcia was killed in November after being on the job for only one month. The drug war has nearly crippled the Mexican law enforcement taskforce, but the country is currently standing strong despite the rise of body count and missing. Let’s hope the conflict is resolved quickly.