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The Assassination of Lalo

The Assassination of Lalo

The Assassination of Lalo
July 05
10:07 2018

By Morgan Smith

On June 8 in Juárez, Mexico, Pastor Eduardo “Lalo” Ruelas García was shot six times by men armed with military style weapons. This assassination was a brutal ending to the life of a man who tried for so long to bring peace to his city. For many years, Lalo resisted cartel pressure and led an evangelical movement called “Evangelismo Masivo.” He suffered tremendously in the process. On October 13, 2009 his son was murdered. In 2011, one of his daughters was kidnapped but miraculously she was returned unharmed.

I met him in February 2011, an experience I will never forget. I was with Pastor José Luis Galván, the founder of Vision in Action, an asylum for the mentally ill. We drove across the city to Lalo’s fruit and vegetable wholesaling business on a pleasant cool evening. Juárez seemed peaceful, yet we passed numerous clusters of police cars, lights flashing, men with weapons. At that time, there were an average of 8 to 10 murders a day and violence came and went quickly leaving nothing but bodies behind.

Finally, we arrived at an area of loading docks where Lalo had his office. A hard-faced man with dark hair, he took us to his stark office. I sat across from his desk on a rickety chair.

Then he leaned towards me and said that when your son is killed, you lose part of your heart. I was unable to face his penetrating eyes, shaking so hard that I could barely take notes. I wanted to push back the chair – that is, escape – but I was afraid that it would collapse. The pain in his voice was paralyzing.

He talked about the four steps he suffered regarding his son’s murder.

Disbelief. He was with his son that morning and everything was fine.

Denial. He would get up at night and look out the window, unwilling to accept that his son was gone.

Sadness. A sadness you cannot imagine. And blame for the killers who were never apprehended, for the police, for himself.

Acceptance. He was thankful for the 24 years he had had with his son.

Lalo made me see the depths of the pain that so many felt in Juárez in those violent years. But he went a step further. He asked me not to speak badly of his city. He said that someday Juárez will be strong again, like the phoenix rising from the ashes.

He was killed because he refused to give in to the cartels. How will his murder affect Juárez? What is his legacy? Will all those years of sacrifice lead to the peace that he desired? Who knows. For now, however, all we can do is mourn a man whose courage and determination was an example to all of us.

Morgan Smith is a free-lance writer and photographer who has been writing about border issues. He can be reached at Morgan-smith@comcast.net.

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Edición Virtual | #332 | 14 de Febrero 2019

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