Edgar Alvarado, a 23-year-old, was shot to death after U.S. marshals mistakenly raided his home in New Mexico.
“It’s almost inexplicable, but we have evidence … that Edgar was dragged from the house, after having been struck multiple times, taken outside, given commands to give up a weapon, as he’s gurgling and flailing his arms, and shot a fourth time. Almost what you would call ‘execution style,” said the family’s attorney, Robert Gorence, at a news conference.
While his family and other witnesses say Alvarado was shot a fourth time as he was unable to follow the officer’s commands, the New Mexico Police says they’re investigating the shooting as a “confrontation.”
The victim’s cousin, Perla Alvarado stated, “They said they had made a mistake because he was out there at the wrong time. No such mistake by killing somebody. There’s no accident.”
Read more about the shooting from The Albuquerque Journal here.
The conversation of gun control is back on the consciousness of many Americans after the deadly shooting of 31 people in El Paso, Texas, and Dayton, Ohio. The 21-year-old gunman of the El Paso shooting reportedly chose a powerful AK-style rifle to commit what is being called “the deadliest attack targeting Latinos in recent U.S. history.” However, these types of weapons have also made their way across the U.S.-Mexico border where many are being brought there illegally by mostly American citizens.
In 2018, the homicide rate in Mexico hit a record high of 35,964, which is up 12 percent from the year before, according to the country’s National Institute of Statistics and Geography. Of those killings, at least 20,005 were gun-related deaths.
As the number of homicides has risen in Mexico due to gun violence there is a growing sense of urgency from Mexican officials to see something get done. The AK-47 has been known to be the gun of choice for cartel groups and is being used to kill countless Mexican citizens, every week.
As these powerful assault rifles make their way illegally from the U.S. into Mexico, they are being used in cartel-related violence and drug trafficking efforts. The overwhelming majority of guns used by drug cartels in the country’s deadly turf come illegally from the U.S., since the Mexican army is the only legal seller in the country.
According to the San Diego Union- Tribune, the illegal trafficking of these powerful weapons has fueled the already increasingly dangerous and deadly conditions in the country. The underground market for the weapons is worth hundreds of millions of dollars and will only keep rising.
Jack Riley, a retired DEA agent, told the Union-Tribune that these cartel groups are choosing these U.S.-made weapons for two primary reasons: their efficiency and because the weapons are a status symbol. He also says that the majority of these funneled weapons are passing through Mexican ports of entry along the U.S.-Mexico border, which includes on the busiest, the San Ysidro-Tijuana port.
“It is really important to these criminal organizations, who stay in business by the threat of violence and through the use of violence; and the tools that they prefer to do that with are American-made guns,” Riley told the Union-Tribune. “There is a tremendous market for them and unfortunately there’s a ton of people in the United States willing to do business with some of the cartels.”
Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador is now urging the United States to “control the indiscriminate sale of weapons” after recent mass shootings.
The shooting in El Paso, Texas has prompted President Lopez Obrador to put pressure on the U.S. to curb the gun proliferation that is now taking the lives of Mexican citizens. He has also mentioned that the Mexican government was looking into the possibility of accusing the El Paso shooter of “terrorism” and requesting his extradition to face charges in Mexico.
“We are very respectful of what other governments decide, but we think that these unfortunate events, which occurred in the U.S., should lead to reflection, analysis and the decision to control the indiscriminate sale of weapons,” Lopez Obrador said at a news conference in Mexico City last Monday.
Similar to the U.S., citizens in Mexico have the same right to bear arms but when it comes to the sale of weapons, the country has tighter restrictions. Most citizens are only able to purchase lighter handguns or nothing more powerful than a .38 caliber gun as assault weapons are banned. Also, the sale of weapons from one citizen to another is prohibited.
The numbers show that the gun problem in America had crossed over across the border as 70 percent of guns seized across all of Mexico have U.S. origins, According to a report from the U.S. Government Accountability Office.
Mexico is in the midst of turbulent times as the number of people murdered hit more than 33,000 people last year, a record high. This was especially the case for Tijuana, where the popular tourist city that saw more than 2,500 homicides just last year. This gave the city the unwanted distinction and title of “the most violent city in the world,” where almost every single gun that was seized by police since 2016 came from the U.S., according to the city’s chief of police.
There is an “importance of going after both of these things, not just immigration, narcotics, the flow of illegal money, but the tools with which these criminal organizations rely,” Riley told the Tribune. “And for far too long there hasn’t been enough emphasis both by the Mexicans and to a certain extent by us, for a variety of political reasons, to really go after the gun smugglers.”
In Mexican culture, storytelling is everything. Our stories are rarely written down on a page, let alone documented by government officials, which means it is up to us to tell the stories, so they are never forgotten. It’s a practice as old as time. Aside from oral histories that are told within families and communities, Mexicans also write corridos — Spanish ballads — that tell a story about a particular moment or situation. They all contain the same musical melody, which makes them so recognizable. Oxford bibliographies note that corridos are “typically performed a cappella or accompanied by stringed instruments, most commonly guitars,” and it is “performed in regular dance meters, they are commonly set to waltz or polka rhythms.” So, while the melody may be familiar, it is the words to each corrido that makes the song distinctive. It’s our musical tradition that dates back to the Mexican Revolutions of the 20th century, and they remain very much alive today.
On Tuesday, two Latinos performed a corrido titled “El Llanto de El Paso Texas” during a vigil in El Paso, Texas.
Here’s the English translation of the Spanish song:
“I’m going to sing a corrido/ Listen closely/ In the United States/ City of El Paso Texas/ Many people are crying/ Because of what happened here/ On the 3rd of August/ One Saturday morning/ At Walmart by Cielo Vista/ People walked peacefully/ But they never imagined/ Their lives would be changed/ You could hear several gunshots/ A gun went off/ The massacre began/ And my people got scared/ They didn’t know where to run/ But everyone helped each other/ These things that I tell you/ The news reported about it/ 22 dead and 26 injured/ El Chuco is now sad/ Many families are mourning/ It was an act of terrorism/ That this monster caused/ He tried to break my people/ Be he didn’t achieve that/ Now we are more united/ Thanks be to god.”
This powerful Spanish ballad was recorded and tweeted by photojournalist J. Omar Ornelas.
The vigil, which fell on the eve before President Donald Trump’s visit to El Paso included several moments of prayer by the hundreds in attendance. Ornelas tweeted, “In death nobody kills us, we only know how to be reborn with our culture,” and added, “the power of prayer was visible.”
People loved the song’s poignant message that both informed about what happened, and spoke of strength and unity.
@amiradelagarza tweeted, “A corrido about the Cielo Vista massacre in El Paso — because the Mexican response to suffering and death is not to turn away from it.
Another said, “Already there’s a powerful corrido about the El Paso shootings. Best line: ‘…quiso romper a mi gente, pero esto no lo logro…’ (‘…he tried to break my people, but this couldn’t do…’) #ElPasoStrong.”
Earlier this week, a local mariachi shared their rendition of the classic song of loss by Juan Gabriel, “Amor Eterno.” The song which is typically played during funerals or at somber moments showed the resilience of the Latino community as well as pride for the Mexican culture.
Nancy Hernandez tweeted, “Not only Mexicans, most Latinos use this song. Breaks my heart every time I hear it! But what do hateful racists know about our great heritage/spirituality/love of God. #BanTrumpFromElPaso #RespectTheDead I would roll over in my grave! #TrumpIsARacist 7 were Mexicans!” Michael Esposito said, “Amor Eterno is one of the most heart-rending songs ever written, and masterfully clothes the profound sadness of losing a loved one with high artistry. I get goosebumps listening to it, whether it’s the composer Juan Gabriel’s version or Rocío Dúrcal’s version.”
Corridos are also infamously known to tell the stories about the drug cartel. While it may have a violent connect, corridos mostly speak of heartbreak.
Like folk songs of the ’60s, corridos are extremely crucial to the understanding of a particular culture. Corridos are relevant and studied. Several books have been written about the topic including, Gurza, Agustín “A Century of Corridos: The Musical History of Mexico and Its People,” Hernández, Guillermo E, “What Is a Corrido? Thematic Representation and Narrative Discourse.”
Now, “El Llanto de El Paso Texas” will be forever remembered as the corrido that was about a tragic day in El Paso, Texas.