AMONG Mexico’s mayors, María Santos Gorrostieta had good claim to be the prettiest. A pert, faun-like face, large brown eyes, beautifully shaped eyebrows, an hourglass figure. Her web page showed her in work attire: a neat white blouse, tight blue jeans that were fashionably faded, perfect nail-polish, a mobile phone stuck jauntily in her belt. Out and about, she wore a white straw cowboy hat. Beneath the wide brim her smile was enchanting.
The pictures that made her famous, though, were different. In January 2011 she sent them with an open letter to the municipality of Tiquicheo, in wild-west Michoacán, of which she had been mayor since 2008. She also posted them on her web page. They showed her half-naked. Under her right arm was a line of scars. Down the centre of her breastbone as far as the waist was a livid surgical suture. Clamped to her right abdomen was a colostomy bag as lurid as an open wound.
She was showing her body like this, she wrote, injured, mutilated and insulted, because some people still did not believe that a year before she had been shot with assault rifles from a moving car. Her van had been struck by 30 bullets. Three had found her. Only three months before, in October 2009, she and her husband José had been ambushed as they drove through the town of El Limón. She had been hurt then, too, and her husband had been killed, leaving her with three small children and a mayor’s job to do. Well, she was still doing it; still on her feet.
Note I recently watched Witness: Juarez and recommend that to anyone who follows this even in a small way.