And this is how, Marisol Valles Garcia, 20 years old, mother of one and married, accepted the position of police chief in one of the most dangerous municipalities of Mexico. She has accepted the position with fear, with little money, disarmed, without a bodyguard, only motivated by her ideals, with the resolute conviction that the only way to truly combat crime is to strengthen the family and the youth while promoting greater social development.
In an exclusive telephone interview with AOL Latino, she revealed that she is out to prove to those who don't believe in her because of her inexperience, such as the governor of Chihuahua, Cesar Duarte, how wrong they truly are. She affirmed: "Age doesn't matter, what matters is your values, your dreams and what you believe in."
Marisol, a criminology student, is emphatic about mentioning that she accepted the position after speaking to her family and her husband for a month about the opportunity to educate parents and youth about the transcendental power of a strong family unit that will act as a vital component of society.
>>> For more Latino News click here
Social impulse and no frontal attack
"Only by promoting family values will we be able to combat crime," is her thesis which she spreads daily, going to homes, schools, sporting centers, and offices. It is the slogan that she has given to women police officers who will serve the nine sectors Marisol has divided the city into, a city 80 miles away from Ciudad Juarez and which has a population of 10,000 citizens.
"Each sector will be overseen by a woman who will work with families, kids and the elderly to truly understand their necessities and to establish the values and principles they should be living," she said. In addition, she projects the creation of a police squad on bikes and has called on parents to participate in preventive vigilance programs.
This is her formula, she mentioned, to 'change fear for security.' Marisol's responsibilities will be to prevent crime; current organized crime is tackled by the military and the state security bodies. Nevertheless, her proposal to combat the current rise in crime in Mexico has received complete support. Analogous programs have been proposed to Mexican President's Felipe Calderon's government since the beginning of his administration, but they have been rejected, supporting instead a frontal attack and completely ignoring social efforts, according to multiples critics of the government. They affirm that the poverty in which 50 million Mexicans live in, the lack of academic opportunities for youth, unemployment and the absence of a sports structure and policy, are the perfect breeding grounds for the strengthening of the narcos.
She put a spotlight on Praxedis G. Guerrero
Marisol did in just a few short minutes what no one was able to do in years: bring attention to the municipality of Praxedis G. Guerrero, a name which corresponds to a revolutionary general. Founded in 1849, it is a barren region with little tourist activity, 27 rural localities and an area of 808.97 square kilometers where the majority of the population works in the production of cotton. To its north and east is Texas, region which you enter via de international bridge Forthancock via the international bridge Forthancock.
The provincial tranquility was broken at least a decade ago when it became a key location for the smuggling of drugs by Mexican 'capos' who send the majority of their cargo towards the US through this region. It is a 'red zone' as a result of its highly dangerous nature.
The municipality of Praxedis is part of the so-called 'Triangle of Death,' along with Ciudad Juarez and Guadalupe. It is an area with daily fights between the cartels of Juarez and Sinaloa, who not only attack each other but also wreak havoc over the civil population with car bombs. Official records account for 7000 fatalities in the region over the past two years.
'Do you want death or do you want money'
According to a state secretary, who asked for his identity not to be revealed, one of the strategies the narcos employ is to present public officers a gun with a roll of money and ask them, "Do you want death or do you want money?"
"We accept our weakness. We can't combat them [narcos]," asserted the mayor of Praxedis, Jose Luis Guerrero.
¿Fear of death?
This past Wednesday, Marisol was presented as the new chief of the police force in a municipal library which is part of a group of state buildings where you can still clearly see the traces of shot guns along the walls and windows.
"Fear of death?", asked the reporter and Marisol responded, "Fear will always exist, it is part of human nature." Nevertheless and even in light of the dangerous task, she considers it "a great accomplishment." "Every job has its sacrifices and I can accept them so long as it is for the good of the municipality," she concluded.
Little money and payment for employees at risk
When she got asked about the city's budget, she responded, 'What money?", in allusion to how the exiting governing body left the municipal chests empty, making the payment of any money to municipal officers quite difficult.
On November 1st, they are scheduled to receive federal aid with the hope that this will be enough to pay the employees and for the hiring of 5 additional women officers.
Marisol, who studies criminology at the Centro Cultural Universitario of Ciudad Juarez, is still on trial, according to Mayor Guerrero. If her work is acceptable, then she will be hired indefinitely. For the time being, Marisol has gain national and international support from experts across the world who have expressed their interest in helping her achieve her goals.
"We are already receiving offers from virtual police officers who have told us that they want to comment on what's working and what's not, giving us access to information we didn't have before," she expressed.
The most courageous woman of Mexico
At first, talking to Marisol was not that difficult. She was quite accessible but now, due to security reasons and the many responsibilities she currently has, anything related to her is handled by City Councilman, Javier Alejandro Ceniceros.
She has received so many requests for interviews that the Municipal President admits that "the moment has arrived where you [the journalists] can drown her."
It has been said that due to a lack 'courageous men,' this young woman has stepped up to the plate. As a result, she is now considered 'the bravest woman in Mexico," title given to her by the Spanish newspaper El Pais. The world has applauded her courageousness, intelligence and philosophy.
Twitter and the Virgin of Guadalupe
The appointment of Marisol took the social networks by storm, becoming the topic of conversation by thousands of people on Twitter and many other social networks.
She is the most popular woman in Mexico, the woman that has on her desk the image of the Virgin of Guadalupe and a sign in honor of Jesus Manuel Holguin, one of the preceding chiefs of police that was killed on May 1st, 2009. 'Rest in peace,' it reads.
Translated by: Marcela Sarmiento