What Happened in El Paso

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The Texas-Mexico Border.

He said, “Mejor que haya un loco y no dos. Better only one crazy. That’s why I don’t argue.”

There is a longer version of Marty Robbins’ 1959 “El Paso”. In 1966 he wrote and recorded “Feleena (From El Paso)”, which tells the back story of the Mexican woman from the earlier song. It also tells us what happens after the narrator of “El Paso” fell dead with a kiss, shot through by the avengers of the rival whom he gunned down. It says this:

“Quickly she grabbed for, the six-gun that he wore
And screamin’ in anger and placin’ the gun to her breast
Bury us both deep and maybe we’ll find peace
And pullin’ the trigger, she fell ‘cross the dead cowboy’s chest.”

The man said, “Mejor que haya un loco y no dos.” I tapped my lips with my finger. I asked, “How do you… learn?”

I overheard a broad-shouldered man from a Nuevo Laredo maquiladora border factory speaking to a red-haired logistics coordinator in Laredo. “We work and we work and we work,” he said, leaning forward to her, “and when do we live?” She took his hand. “Now. Mejor que haya dos locos y no uno. Let’s live.”

Trabajamos y trabajamos. Until, like the cars lined up behind the international bridge, we go to shop and shop. But you wouldn’t know that, not from the New York Post: “Texas oasis of wealth and luxury thrives on trafficking near border”. Too conservative? Try the Texas Standard: “Corruption From Drug Money Is A ‘Subtle, Almost Invisible Thing’ In The Rio Grande Valley”.

The logistics coordinator asked the maquiladorista, “How much of this commercial paradise is dirty money? The Maseratis? The Rolexes?” There is no way to know. When the cartel boss can become a saint like Jesús Malverde, then how can you know? What are the maquiladoristas? Malinchistas? What of it when the narcotics feed more mouths than anything else? When the cartel protects more than the police? When the anti-cartel becomes the new cartel? And then you tell me where the line in the sand is supposed to be found.

The man said, “Mejor que haya un loco y no dos.” And I felt in that moment that he had me at gunpoint.

The worker from Nuevo Laredo shared an image on Facebook. It had photos of indigenous people from across the Americas, and below that it said:
Así son los americanos los demás son inmigrantes.
Thus are Americans, the others are immigrants.

“And where are you?” He couldn’t answer. “How does that help?” asked the logistics coordinator, “You think the white supremacist is unaware of the history? You think they haven’t been told a million times that they’re too white to be American? Not the calculated white supremacists in the boardrooms, I mean their proxies doing the labor for them, the proxies doing the labor and the racism for them.”

The man said, “Mejor que haya un loco y no dos.”

The worker from Nuevo Laredo quoted Benito Juárez:
“el respeto al derecho ajeno es la paz”
“respect for the rights of others is peace”
But that did not apply to the situation.

There are laws of the hacienda
There are laws of the plantation

“AMLO? A Mexican Trump. Attacking journalists…”
“Maybe that’s what we need!”
“Every country on earth is acquiring one. Exaggerated national caricatures making a mockery of elected offices while pushing through the bitter pills that will keep the neo-liberal system alive.”

The man said, “Mejor que haya un loco y no dos. It was something my mother used to say. She said it when the men argued politics which never resulted in anything but an execution.” I asked, “But then how do you learn?” He promptly unfollowed and blocked me.

A hollow wind blows through me tonight. The Mexican Foreign Minister says he will sue my government for not protecting his fellow citizens. I ask you, though, who is accountable for not protecting you and I? Are we our government? Are we our government anymore?

And on I-35 from Dallas the assassin drove past the billboard advertising a Texas relocation agency for conservatives which reads: “California Too Late, Texas Still Great”. It reads: “”Mejor que haya un loco y no dos.”

“One little kiss and Feleena, goodbye.” What were you doing at Rosa’s Cantina? What were you doing out on the trail? Trabajamos y trabajamos. We work and we work. And when do we live?

Too often when it is too late.

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