Hunting Season

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.


9 comments on “Hunting Season

  1. This is indeed, chilling.
    Thanks for reporting it.
    Best wishes,


  2. Carole Kocian says:

    Six of us will be there Saturday for a week. Let peace prevail.


  3. Tony Anaya says:



  4. Doug says:

    I arrived at the scene right around 11:00 and was diverted down a side road off Ibarra, moments later followed by an ambulance screaming away from the scene. I was on foot in the area another hour while I got my car’s oil changed. When you say, “Within an hour, helicopters would fill the skies over the shocked town,” I’m not sure where you’re getting your information. I heard, and saw, exactly one.
    Though there actually were many helicopter flights overhead during the Day of the Dead, even then it would have been hyperbole to say they ‘filled the skies’- I identified two different helicopters…I have a clear view of the sky and tend to pay attention to such things. That’s like saying that ultralight aircraft filled the skies because the one that gives tours was noisily flying all day.
    I mention this mostly because I want to think, in contrast, that your account of the crafts fair is reported, not dramatized, and if so, I appreciate the perspective. Rough enough already for many, if not most, of those vendors….


  5. Steve Cotton says:

    Sad is nowhere near what I am feeling. I am simply offended that a group of criminals has the gall to take control of the law in the way these drug gangs have done. I was about to say the issue is complex. But it’s not. It is a tale as old as man. The lust for power is a the strongest of urges.


  6. Charlie Hall says:

    Sad doesn’t even begin to convey my feelings. I return tomorrow to Patzcuaro… to a very sick father, a very tired family and now a wounded city!
    Life will go on… How we choose to proceed is up to each of us…
    I choose to be out on the Plazas this weekend…


  7. Deb says:

    In today’s world, violence—drug related and otherwise—is all around us. All around YOU. Included in the 2007 Top 25 most dangerous cities list are #6 Birmingham, AL, #7 North Charleston, SC, and #11 Orlando, FL. Yes, Mickey and Minnie’s sunny home. To avoid visiting beautiful and bucolic Patzcuaro due to Wednesday’s events after a careful review of the facts, in my opinion, borders upon foolish. Visit, vacation and linger in Patzcuaro’s beautiful, colonial quaintness knowing that you are NOT the target. While we are all profoundly sad and concerned at this time, the facts state that a visit to Patzcuaro is FAR SAFER than sending your children and grandchildren to Disney World. Don’t be fooled and fearful, and DO visit Patzcuaro. Soon!


  8. Ruth Alegria says:

    Que Dios vaya con usteds!
    There are no words when tragedy strikes at home.
    On Nov. 4 we here in the DF turned from watching the US election returns to stunned silence as the air crash reporting took its place.
    As I watched I remembered another day, Sept.11, stopping everything as my beloved home, New York reeled from the unthinkable.
    “What does not destroy me, makes me strong” Friedrich Neitzche


  9. J.Gordon says:

    Planning on going to Patzcuaro for Day of Dead this year (2009). Have been there before but am concerned about level of violence. Thoughts?


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