la violencia


How well she remembers those days. How could she ever forget—when the Juniors, as they became known, were in their prime: flashing their wealth around Tijuana, dripping gold with a scantily dressed beauty hanging from each arm? Cruising in their SUVs, taking over nightclubs in which they would drink only champagne. Cristina Palacios Hodoyán, lighting ultrathin cigarettes with a gold lighter held in her ultrathin fingers, remembers them with a sorrow in her eyes that even her polished demeanor cannot hide. How could she forget the Juniors, when two of her three sons were among them? The eldest, Alejandro, was kidnapped twice—once in 1996 and again the following year, since when he has never been seen again. The youngest, Alfredo, became known as “el Lobo,” the Wolf, and is serving 176 years in a Mexican jail, convicted of multiple murders and criminal association. “I had wanted them to become lawyers, or go into their father’s business as civil engineers,” their mother reflects. After finishing her cigarette, she picks at a smoked salmon sandwich, at a table in the Merlot restaurant, near the Tijuana Country Club, where the better class of people go. Mrs. Palacios turns sixty-nine the day after we have dinner, and says she plans a quiet meal with close friends, nothing extravagant.

more from Ed Vulliamy at Guernica here.