Wednesday, January 27, 2010

A First Hand Report Of Fan Reaction To The Shooting Of Salvador Cabanas (And the cutlure of corruption & violence engulfing the country)

By Andrew McDonald, reporting from Mexico City

Today I went down to Estadio Azteca to check out the get-well ofrenda ("tribute") that was set-up to honor Salvador "Chava" Cabañas on the lower concourse of the stadium. As I approached, chanting was the first thing that caught my attention before I even saw the crowd.

As I rounded the corner, I saw this massive crowd of América fans bouncing up and down, with a huge Paraguayan flag represented as well. Perhaps some 500 people, most sporting the “azulcrema” Club América jersey, were unwavering in their expressed emotion for Chava. Singing and chanting, this almost-celebratory convergence lasted at least an hour.

However, there was also a more somber side to the day. Fans were adding lit candles, religious icons, photos, and other Cabañas regalia to the tribute wall. There were lots of tearful children, even some teenagers openly weeping. At one point, a group of about 25 people (mostly strangers) circled around, holding hands in the air, reciting rosary prayers. It's very clear that Club América, and Cabañas in particular, mean so much to many of the overwhelmingly working-class fans that follow the Club. In fact, there's even a barrio named "Cabañas" not far from the stadium with a gigantic mural in his honor.

One truth that has gained much traction since this high-profile shooting happened two days ago, is that much of Mexico is gripped by constant violence and impunity. In 2010, Mexico has the largest civilian casualty rates in the world of any nation not technically in a civil war. People are dying all the time, and it’s business as usual. If you’ve got money, no matter how heinous the crime, you can pay somebody to look the other way. Considering this, it’s not surprising that when there’s no sense of justice, people tend to take matters into their own hands.

Unfortunately and perhaps erroneously, a rumor (among many) that won’t seem to go away, has it that Cabañas accidentally ran somebody over a couple of weeks ago in his automobile and was let go by the police because of his clout as a footballer. Thus, motive for the supposed revenge shooting. Whether truth or fiction, it could never justify what happened to Cabañas.

But perhaps more telling than this persistent rumor, and at the root of its creation, is that such scenarios are all-too-real in Mexico. They just don’t typically involve the best footballer in the country getting shot. The 25 million or so who reside in this city are desperate for answers as to why violence and corruption seem to have a permanent choke hold on their country. Most I’ve spoken to seem resigned in the belief that the truth may never reach the light of day about what really happened to Salvador Cabañas. Such is the nature of their lived experience.

Hopefully, this high-profile incident will be the necessary catalyst for systemic change. I doubt most are holding their breath.

-Andrew MacDonald is a Minnesota native and Dunord reader living in Mexico City. He can be reached at...


Anonymous Anonymous said...

well written brother. i was shocked when i heard the news.

3:58 PM  

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