SanctuaryThursday, November 07, 2013
This story has been cooking in my brain for years. Tonight in a bout of insomnia I was thinking about two known entities about the law that seem to have no exception. One is that a country’s embassy is that country. So if you are in the Canadian Embassy in Mexico City you are in Canada. The other one is about Catholic Church Sanctuary. If you are running from the law and you enter a Catholic church the lads of law and order cannot remove you.
In 1989 I went to Acapulco to spend a week with my friend Licenciado Felipe Ferrer Junco who was the chief of the city’s Federal Police. I wrote about him here and here.
The story in question involves sanctuary. I was in the Ferrer Junco’s office one morning when a teary-eyed young woman entered the Chief’s office. She sat down and told us the story of a young man who had raped her and that when he went to face the judge; the young man had offered to marry the girl. The judge decided to drop the case pending proof of his intentions as per a marriage certificate. Ferrer Junco asked the young woman when the wedding was to happen and she told him that it would be three hence on a Sunday.
That afternoon Ferrer Junco took me to Acapulco’s red light district and pointed out a house and told me, “Our girl works there.” I was astounded and came up with an argument that would be suspect in this 21st century. I told him, “You believe her story? And if it's true how can you prove it was rape? And look at her background and profession?”
Ferrer Junco then, quite angry (he was a lawyer by profession and knew his Mexican Law) told me, “We are going to be at the church on Sunday and if the young man shows up, and this I doubt, we will nab him.” I immediately countered with, “You can’t do that he will be in a church and that is against the law. It is sanctuary.” Ferrer Junco with a smile in his face simply said, “¡Me vale madre!” which is a Mexicanism that is virtually untranslatable but sort of means, “I don’t give a fuck if it’s sanctuary or not.” Then he said, "She may be a prostitute, but she is a woman. We are the police and we must protect her rights."
Monday morning I showed up at the station and asked my friend, the police chief, of the events of the day before. He asked me to follow him. We walked a few blocks to the jail. It was there that I snapped a picture of the groom still dressed in his finest.