Frederick J. Sheehan is the author of Panderer to Power: The Untold Story of How Alan Greenspan
Enriched Wall Street and Left a Legacy of Recession (McGraw-Hill, 2009) and "The
Coming Collapse of the Municipal Bond Market" (Aucontrarian.com, 2009)
"While Christmas is undoubtedly a
time of great joy, it is also an occasion for deep reflection, even an
examination of conscience."
-Pope Benedict XVI, Financial Times, December 20, 2012, "A Time for
Christians to Engage the World"
the Mayans were onto something after all. Perhaps the impending solstice marks
the moment the ailing financial system - rather than our entire civilization,
one hopes, finally reaches its grand climacteric and Ben Bernanke suffers the
ultimate embarrassment of seeing all his proferred cheques bounce."
-From a wishful thinker in Switzerland, December 20, 2012
Maria Santos Gorrostieta Salazar was murdered by emissaries from the Mexican
drug cartel on November 17, 2012. The Financial Times and the Daily
Telegraph published obituaries, which is the source of the following. The
two newspapers seem to be the only English-language media sources, so the story
here is brief and perhaps contains errors. (For instance, I've also read she
died on November 12, 2012; that, she had three sons, and, that she had two
daughters and one son.)
Gorrostieta had been mayor of Tiquicheo, a small town southwest of Mexico from
2008 until recently (before her death). She was 36-years old. She was to the
manor born, a doctor, and "a glamorous figure who would always turn heads
at political meetings." She left three children behind. Her husband had
been murdered by the money interests when an attempt to kill Maria Gorrostieta
failed three years before.
In the Financial Times' words:
"Gorrostieta's no-nonsense manner, and, above all, her courage in the face
of persistent threats, proved too much of an obstacle for the region's
narcotics mafia. Last week her corpse was discovered at roadside."
A second murder attempt killed her
brother. At that time, Maria Gorrostieta was shot three times, tortured, had to
wear a colostomy bag and was in constant pain from that point forward. After
that second attempt, she wrote a public letter which is published below.
Questions were raised of why she continued. Her response is not one from an age
of opinions but of convictions: "At another stage in my life, perhaps I
would have resigned from what I have, my position, my responsibilities, but
today, no; it is not possible for me to surrender when I have three sons, whom
I have to educate by setting an example..." (Goethe was asked why, in this
age (around 1800) we can no longer build Charters: "Because they had
convictions, We only have opinions.")
Nor, could Gorrostieta abandon her
responsibility to "keep on searching, scratching, negotiating plans,
projects and actions for the benefit of all of society, but, in particular, for
the vulnerable ones." More were becoming vulnerable, the Financial
Times explained: "As the cartels have grown in size and strength,
their turf battles have ever more frequently had devastating consequences for
the civilians caught in the middle."
This is a world in
which a few cartels bequeath devastating consequences to those who lie under
their control and who cannot escape.
The following is reprinted from
BorderlandBeat.com, "Reporting on the Mexican Cartel Drug War":
[After the second attempt on her life, Maria Santos
Gorrostieta was interviewed by El Universal. She was addressing critics who
doubted the severity of her injuries. As a sign of respect, I thought it would
be appropriate to translate a letter that she made public in which she explains
what kept her going. I decided to translate the entire letter instead of the
abridged version most commonly seen in news reports. She was a brave lady. -un
Message to the citizenry
There is no doubt that life at times lacerates us with
sufferings and humiliations that not all of us are able to understand
completely, many times we tend to appear arrogant and stubborn before God's
will. However, despite everything, I have had to bear losses that I would not
wish on anyone, and have had to accept them with resignation and with the
knowledge that it is our Lord's will, and have gone on, even with a wounded
I know... that life surprises us at times, hurts us,
makes us complain even about ourselves; it is well known by those around me
that my life has not been easy, it has been permeated by sorrows and
Despite that, and despite my own safety and that of my
family, what occupies my mind is my responsibility towards my people, the
children, the women, the elderly and the men who break their souls every day
without rest to find a piece of bread for their children.
It is a great burden to know that among my responsibilities
as city mayor is that of obtaining the benefits, the programs and the aid that
I know will represent great improvements in the economy and in the quality of
life of the people of Tiquicheo.
One of the greatest sorrows that a human being can
suffer is that of pain in the soul. This is seldom understood by people around
us because they simply have not lived it or are indifferent to the suffering of
My life these past few months has received blows that I
sincerely believe I do not deserve, since my efforts have always been focused
on leading my people, my city, towards a better quality of life, to provide
them the tools that will help them face the difficult economic situation that
we are all going through.
Despite that, for some, my efforts and dedication have not
been enough and they have regretfully celebrated the misfortunes I have
The inner strength that has moved me to get up, even when
I'm dying, has served to demonstrate and make tangible the great commitment
that I have with my ideas, my projects for the future, and, of course for the
people who witnessed my birth and for whom I will get up however many times God
allows me to, to keep on searching, scratching, negotiating plans, projects and
actions for the benefit of all of society, but, in particular, for the
This is who I am...
[I have omitted poetry here that Maria Santos Gorrostieta
Salazarattributes to an anonymous source.-- un vato]
At another stage in my life, perhaps I would have resigned
from what I have, my position, my responsibilities as the leader of my
Tiquicheo. But today, no; it is not possible for me to surrender when I have
three sons, whom I have to educate by setting an example, and also because of
the memory of the man of my life, the father of my three little ones, the one
who was able to teach me the value of things and to fight for them; and,
although he is no longer with us, he continues to be the light that guides my
decisions, each of which, it goes without saying, is dedicated to getting my
city out of its backwardness.
It's true they have attacked my physically and morally; one
can still feel on my body the wounds from the bullets and from the disbelief of
some who have doubts about my mutilated body. I struggle day to day to erase
from my mind the images of the horror I lived, and that others who did not
deserve or expect it also suffered. To them, my recognition, respect and love
for the courage with which they faced their troubles and for their unconditional
support for myself and my work.
I wanted to show them my wounded, mutilated, humiliated
body, because I'm not ashamed of it, because it is the product of the great
misfortunes that have scarred my life, that of my children and my family.
It is a living witness to the fact that I am a woman of
strength and integrity, and that, despite my wounds, both physical and mental,
I am still standing and still in the constant struggle to become a better
person and a better leader of a city that still trusts me and expects results
from its mayor.
You may ask, what is it that so attracts Maria Santos
Gorrostieta Salazar today? Where does the power of her integrity reside, this
public and political figure, from Tiquicheo, from Michoacan, Mexican and universal:
in her works, in her life, or in her wounded body and her serene face? It is
difficult to answer you from this hemisphere of my life, however, I would point
out that transgression and resistance are conjugated in perfect harmony in my
Many persons have mistakenly doubted the severity of my
injuries; today, the proof is in their hands, my mutilated body speaks for
itself, evidence of how vulnerable we are, of our life's fragility and of God's
wishes, which are always present in our daily sorrows.
To many, it may seem an act of insolence to show my wounds
such as they are, but it was necessary because I had to give my version of the
facts, what it really meant to be attacked like that and the traces that these
attacks left on me and my people. Because everybody else could say, unsay,
talk, invent, defame, except me; and now is the time and place to do so.
What you can see doesn't need much of an explanation; I
simply want your understanding, support and consideration, because despite the
fact that I show myself as somebody strong and unbreakable, inside of me, I am
still a woman, fragile, a dreamer, a romantic, a mother, but one thing for
sure, with an unquenchable determination to continue with my mission of service
as head of this administration to which I was elected, and to help those who
have less and that still live in a state of great vulnerability.
I firmly believe, in fact, I am certain, that my conduct
during my term as mayor has been correct, since every one of the decisions I've
made has been focused on serving my people. If the opposite had been true, it
would undoubtedly have already been noticed. This is why I make available for
anybody who wants to look at what has been done up to now. The accounting and
my conscience are clean, the projects and actions are in plain view.
A year after a bloody incident
Throughout this year, I am here with an open mind and a
quiet heart, several memories come to mind that no doubt history will judge me
on; all I want to say is that walking on this rocky path has not been easy,
that it has been permeated with disappointment and despair. I'll tell you that
whatever trench I get, I will defend it with sword and cape, I am faithful to
my ideals and to achieve my conviction and my objectives, always convinced that
truth and authenticity will set us free. I am grateful with all my heart to
those persons who have trusted in my work, to my children, my mother, my
brothers, friends, collaborators and to the city that has given its
I have walked a long road towards freedom, and I have tried
not to hesitate. I've stumbled along the way, but I've discovered that great
secret; that after climbing a hill, one finds that there are many more behind
that. I've given myself a moment of rest to look at the glorious landscape that
surrounds me, the view back towards the road I've traveled. But I can only rest
for a moment, because freedom brings with it responsibilities and I don't dare
fall behind. My long road is not yet finished; the footprint that we leave
behind in our country depends on the battle that we lose and the loyalty we put
into it. Today, it is a privilege to be part of the history of Tiquicheo.
Maria Santos Gorrostieta Salazar