Be­lieve in a bet­ter Mex­ico

Austin American-Statesman - - OPINION -

The as­sas­si­na­tion of Rodolfo Torre Cantu in Ta­mauli­pas on Mon­day weighs heav­ily on my mind and spirit. I knew him and have fond mem­o­ries of him and his fam­ily from my days grow­ing up in Ta­mauli­pas.

Though we had very dif­fer­ent lives as adults, we had sim­i­lar back­grounds and ex­pe­ri­ences as chil­dren of mid­dle-class par­ents in the small, peace­ful town of Ciudad Vic­to­ria.

Torre’s as­sas­si­na­tion is the most prom­i­nent po­lit­i­cal murder since the 1994 killing of Luis Don­aldo Colo­sio, the front-run­ning pres­i­den­tial can­di­date that year. Over­com­ing this sense­less crime will be a chal­lenge, not only for his fam­ily and those of his sup­port­ers who were killed with him on Mon­day, but also for the state of Ta­mauli­pas and for Mex­ico as a whole.

In this moment of great tragedy and loss, I think of my fam­ily’s his­tory in Mex­ico and of the tremen­dous re­silience the Mex­i­can peo­ple have shown over time and I find the glim­mer of hope for Mex­ico’s fu­ture that I need to get through this dif­fi­cult pe­riod.

In the early 1900s, my grand­par­ents and 30 other fam­i­lies from Texas and Ok­la­homa set­tled in Mex­ico. They es­tab­lished roots and built the fam­ily busi­ness in Ta­mauli­pas. My grand­par­ents ar­rived in Mex­ico full of hope and in­tent on purs­ing the great op­por­tu­nity they felt awaited them. Their farm­ing and cat­tle busi­ness and their dreams were put on hold — in­ter­rupted by the Mex­i­can Revo­lu­tion and the pro­longed strug­gle that en­sued. While many of the orig­i­nal set­tlers never re­turned to Mex­ico, my grand­par­ents re­turned to pick up where they left off and re­built their dreams.

I feel priv­i­leged to have grown up in Ciudad Vic­to­ria and to have re­ceived from my par­ents the won­der­ful gift of im­mer­sion in an­other lan­guage and cul­ture. One of the fam­i­lies I grew up with was the Torre-Cantu fam­ily.

Dr. Egidio Cantu was the re­spected lo­cal physi­cian who was de­voted to his lovely and car­ing wife and their five chil­dren — two boys and three girls. The el­dest, Egidio — who has been named to re­place his slain brother as the PRI can­di­date for gover­nor — was the most se­ri­ous of the kids. I re­mem­ber him al­ways look­ing out af­ter his younger brother and keep­ing a care­ful watch over his three sis­ters. Egidio stud­ied en­gi­neer­ing at the Uni­ver­sity of Texas, where he re­ceived a mas­ter’s de­gree, and went on to run his own con­struc­tion busi­ness in Ta­mauli­pas. Rodolfo was af­fa­ble and al­ways a good lis­tener. He fol­lowed in his fa­ther’s foot­steps by ob­tain­ing his med­i­cal de­gree and prac­tic­ing medicine for sev­eral years be­fore en­ter­ing pol­i­tics. He mar­ried his high school sweet­heart, Beba, and was the proud fa­ther of three chil­dren.

The Torre-Cantu fam­ily and many of the fam­i­lies in Ciudad Vic­to­ria raised their chil­dren with strong fam­ily and civic val­ues. Egidio be­came mayor of Ciudad Vic­to­ria, and Rodolfo went into govern­ment to serve as Health Sec­re­tary and fed­eral con­gress­man. In April, Rodolfo was nom­i­nated by his party (the PRI) as its gu­ber­na­to­rial can­di­date.

The war that Mex­ico is wag­ing against the drug car­tels is of a great cost to Mex­i­cans in terms that are mea­sur­able — such as hu­man lives lost and fi­nan­cial re­sources drained. Howeer, there are also im­mea­sur­able costs — op­por­tu­ni­ties lost and the pall cast over the na­tional psy­che. Most dis­heart­en­ing, it is a war that Mex­ico will not win as long as the U.S. de­mand for drugs re­mains strong.

But it is a de­bate we are ac­cus­tomed to hear­ing. Too of­ten over­looked are the peo­ple who put their lives on the line ev­ery day. They do so out of love for their coun­try and love for their fam­i­lies. They are fight­ing to re­gain con­trol of their destiny so they can build what Rodolfo called “el Ta­mauipas que to­dos quer­e­mos” (the Ta­mauli­pas we all want and love).

The face of the war in Mex­ico that an­a­lysts and re­porters de­scribe daily to us is a war of cor­rupt of­fi­cials and crim­i­nal gangs fight­ing for con­trol. But it is more com­plex than that. Just as dur­ing my grand­par­ents’ day, there are good, hon­est peo­ple who be­lieve in a bet­ter Mex­ico, and a bet­ter Ta­mauli­pas and who pay the ul­ti­mate price for pur­su­ing their dreams. Rodolfo was one of those peo­ple.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA

© PressReader. All rights reserved.