Remember Marisol Valles Garcia, who we wrote about in our One Tough Broad series? She’s the 21-year-old criminal justice major who stepped up to become sheriff in her small town near Cuidad Juárez (yes, that scary Juárez) last October. She filled the position because it was empty – the last sheriff was kidnapped and decapitated – and no one else wanted to do it.
I first learned about Garcia while watching the news one evening. While they interviewed the small young woman wearing geek-chic glasses, I felt a mixture of fascination and fear: How could she be so brave? I wondered. And how could she be so stupid? Her plan was not to use arms or to fight against the gangs, but to focus purely on prevention and getting the community to come outside again. A noble idea, but I worried that she’d end up dead in two weeks.
Early this month, Garcia left. Some worried she had been kidnapped, but city officials said she went to the U.S. to care for her sick child. Later, it was revealed that she and her family fled after receiving serious threats. When she didn’t come back, the mayor of the town announced she was fired.
Early this week, U.S. authorities said she was held at a detention center near the boarder in Texas and she was released, “pending asylum hearings after an initial interview established ‘credible fear.'”
“She became a symbol of resistance to the view that community life was now impossible much of Mexico,” proclaimed UK’s The Guardian. “Mexico, it seems, has lost another hero to the drug war,” said the Christian Science Monitor. Well at least the girl is alive. I encourage you to send your hopes, prayers, thoughts and general good juju Garcia’s way. She is supposedly safe in a city “far away from the border,” but I’m sure she needs all the help she can get.
–By Tara Cavanaugh