Wednesday morning, November 12, started out like any other quiet, sunny fall weekday in Patzcuaro, a town some 36 miles from Morelia. By noon, the town would join a growing roster of other Mexican cities and towns whose chiefs of police were felled by assassins. Just blocks from the town’s Plaza Grande, Chief of Police Miguel Antonio González Zamudio and a uniformed deputy gave up their lives in a blast of gunfire. Within an hour, helicopters would fill the skies over the shocked town.
When these things happen in distant venues like Cd. Juárez, Tijuana and Culiacan, we shrug it off, because those cities just aren’t in our neighborhood. Those places can feel as distant as Baghdad. Far, far from home.
Only days before, during the Dia de los Muertos celebration, some five hundred law enforcement converged upon the region to ward off violence. Tourists from within Mexico as well as abroad filled the area’s hotels, but not in the numbers seen during previous years. At the annual crafts market, an event filling the Plaza Grande with artisans hailing from every village in the state, sales were dismal. One grand master who usually sells out of merchandise went several days without a single sale. As the sale ended, artisans reluctantly packed up crates of unsold folk art. Most lost money; the very fortunate may have only made their expenses.
Patzcuaro will go on, just as Morelia did after the 15th of September and New York City after 9/11. Life will be the same – and it won’t.
Staying away from Michoacán—and Mexico—isn’t the answer. You can help by including this area in your vacation plans—as well as in your prayers. And if you can do neither, make a special effort to buy some of its products.