Remembering Mr. Salcedo

There comes a time when I am everso proud of being Mexican, of being a member of a community and people who have preferred to “die on their feet than live on their knees”, as Emiliano Zapata once said.  But on New Year’s Eve, my heart sank at the news that Roberto Salcedo, a ferverent immigrant rights activist was murdered execution style in the Mexican state of Sonora.  According to news reports, a group of gunmen entered a restaurant where Mr. Salcedo was having dinner with his wife and several of his former high school friends and at gunpoint, forced him out.  His body and that of his friends were found riddled with bullets to the torso and head.
For years, I have wanted to return to Mexico to visit friends and to work on films but I have chosen not to for fear that I too could become a victim of a senseless murder.  Friends living in Mexico and news reporters on both sides of the border say that the victims of these senseless killings are not innocent, that most of them are involved in drugs, often times owing money to dealers.  Really?  I don’t know the friends of Mr. Salcedo.  But if the Mexican proverb, “Dime con quien andas y te dire quien eres” (tell me about the company you keep and I will tell you the type of person that you are) is at all correct, then I believe the friends Mr. Salcedo was meeting with that day were just like him.  They must have been loving family members, teachers and activists, because that was exactly the type of person that he was.  He was loved.  And in a world where motives are always questioned, his deeds never were.  Anyone who knew Mr. Salcedo saw in him a selfless advocate for social change, a man who always put the interests of others before his own, something he surely learned from his own parents.
I knew Mr. Salcedo, and I can state with great certainty that his passing could not have come at a worse time.  As selfish as that sounds, we still needed him to finish what he started.  Through his hard work and dedication, he ignited a flame of hope for those undocumented students who did not receive the support they deserved to dream bigger.  He made it possible for them to believe in themselves and in a strange way, in fellow man, even though many tried desperately to limit their access to higher education.  Those of us who knew him and those of us impacted by his deeds must now carry on with his work, always reminding those we serve that Mr. Salcedo’s work and example continues to live in each and every one of us.  We must never forget what he started, but we must finish it.
My heart aches for his family, especially a good friend of mine who turns out was related to him.  Nothing we can say or do will ever bring him back.  His life was taken, but his spirit remains in us.  No ‘narco’, ‘zeta’ or corrupt official will ever take that from us because I and those who knew him will not let them.

1 Comment (+add yours?)

  1. Anonymous
    Jan 03, 2010 @ 16:51:57

    Thank you for sharing your thoughts, Martin. It was actually not in Sonora, though. It was in Durango. He was visiting his wife’s family there.

    I appreciate what everyone is saying about my cousin, because he was truly an amazing and beautiful person – not just to me as my cousin, but to so many people all over California, and I’m sure everywhere he went.

    I do not want his life and death to serve as an example for any movement going on in California to help Mexico – my cousin will not be made an example of. His death was tragic, a freak inciident that had nothing to do with anyone’s struggle here. These is my strong opinion.


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