Fears and feelings during the Culiacanazo

One of the experiences lived by an ordinary person during October 17, 2019 that was known as “El Jueves Negro” or “Culiacanazo”

Culiacán, Sinaloa.- It has been a year since the Culiacanazo and a few days ago I finished reading El Traidor, as part of a personal project to improve my reading habit, so I am sentimental and reflecting.

For my work, it is essential for me to search and know what is said when writing or talking about Culiacán or Sinaloa on social networks and Google, that is, I constantly see searches related to the name of the city that has seen me grow. As a consequence, at least three times a week I see how Google Trends shows that the word “ Culiacán ” was searched in an unusual way during October 17, 2019 , as well as the two subsequent days, although to a lesser extent gradually.

I remember very well that the special publications on the subject, in the medium where I work, were made daily for more than a month, I had to upload almost all that content to the web.

So that every time I see that rebound in searches related to Culiacán , sadly I perceive the same thing that happened during the “ Iguala night ”; a society disinterested in the collective welfare, which in general does not seek justice and neither does it seek the right to a dignified life, free from fear.

I could list more things, but that is not important at this time. I was in front of my laptop that night of September 26, when suddenly
the videos, publications, images taken in the dark began to circulate , people who narrated how there were police and military who shot students and minutes later, already in the early morning of 27, more than 40 students were known to have disappeared.

I can bet that most of that information came to me thanks to Sandra and the environment in which she worked. At that time I did not know what to feel, other than helplessness, because of the shocking fact I woke up my parents, I told them what had happened, what the government had done and as an answer they only asked “So what?” (I don’t know if they also asked what they could do or if they said something else). After that, I was silent, I realized that Iguala was in another state, hundreds of kilometers away from where I was. Then a lump formed in my throat, but I didn’t cry.

I thought many things, of which I can hardly remember, except that So what? That answer I think I will never forget. While in high school I realized that that So what? Said by my parents, I would not be the only one in the country. At that moment I knew that the hundreds of thousands of people who saw the news could respond the same and so it ended. Only family members, colleagues, friends, activists and intellectuals would demand justice from the crime of the State, not Mexico .

That same helplessness accompanies me when I see the Google Trends graph about Culiacán for several seconds, thinking that the same thing happened.

That October 17, 2019 at around 2:40 p.m. I was already in the gym, along with Rodrigo, one of my best friends and Brenda, my current girlfriend. Suddenly, messages and audios began to arrive at the WhatsApp groups at work, where they alerted about the presence of armed men in the Tres Ríos sector and surroundings, that we be careful.
Minutes later, videos and photos arrive, among them, the video where a white redila van is observed with a 50 caliber weapon welded to it. Those armed men were four blocks from the gym where we were. In front of an Oxxo to which I have been to consume dozens of times.

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Because I worked in a communication medium, I received the information almost at the same time that the reports began on police radios. As soon as I heard the first audio, where witnesses were fearfully telling the location of the armed men, I commented to Rodrigo, we were both listening and seeing the other files as they arrived.

I didn’t tell Brenda in order to keep her from panicking, it was Brayan, a friend of hers who was also at the gym, who showed her the information. After that, with a face I had never seen, he approached me and asked me what was happening. I blurted out everything I knew so far.

The other users of the gym also began to find out what was happening and some began to call their relatives, while others only played the videos again or searched for more on Facebook or Instagram.

At work we were told that the safest thing to do was to stay where we were and stay calm.

We stayed in the place, and to calm my nerves I kept exercising. At the same time that the curtains of the gym began to be closed by employees of the same. We all stayed inside for at least an hour, a period in which the photos and videos of what was happening outside increased.

I don’t remember if it was after two hours or earlier that most of the users started to leave, some walking and others by car, while Rodrigo, Brenda, Brayan and I stayed in the gym. Minutes later Rodrigo would offer us his house to protect us.

Brayan was not a close friend to me, less to Rodrigo, but to Brenda, that fact, the hospitality of Rodrigo’s family and the unprecedented situation, allowed him to be invited to spend the rest of the day and night at the house from my friend.

We went up to the gym parking lot, got in the car and when we got out we asked an employee to open the curtain so we could get out. It was probably around 5:00 p.m., maybe a little more, and in the streets of downtown Culiacán where we passed, all businesses were closed, roads and sidewalks were desolate.

When driving on Aquiles Serdán Avenue, one of the main streets and bridges that connect the north of the city with the Center, we could observe that there were people walking, as there was no longer public transport service. He had been suspended for the violent events, among which it was known that an urban truck with passengers on board was intervened, evicted and then set on fire to block an important road in the Tres Ríos Urban Development sector.

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The traffic was zero, in less than five minutes we were already outside Rodrigo’s house and the
situation did not change. The information that for a moment had been stopped sending by WhatsApp groups was resumed, this time they were videos of clashes and persecutions by state police against armed men.

I began to find out that various armed groups came from the same area where I used to live, there, my father, my sister and Keyla, my niece, were still there. I called them to find out how they were and I calmed down a bit when they told me that everything was fine, however, I was upset again when they told me that there were dozens of armed men at the entrance to the San Fermín subdivision, that place where I had lived around 10 years now it was besieged by criminals. According to what I was told, these men were standing on the road that goes to the Pitahayita (the garbage), in front of a beer outlet.

It had gotten dark and the city was still unsafe, my nerves and my anxiety did not allow me to remain locked in Rodrigo’s room. I proposed that we go out to the terrace of his house and we stayed there, perhaps for two hours or more.

In front of my friend’s house, military convoys, construction vehicles and vans circulated, the latter we did not know who they belonged to. This made me feel even worse, I could no longer stay calm and so I became impatient to want to go home.

I started saying it out loud, I even asked Rodrigo for the bike (I no longer remember him
answering me ), and Brenda started to get scared, she felt like she couldn’t make me change my mind. The truth is, I didn’t want to leave her alone in that situation either, but I wasn’t thinking clearly. It was until I saw one more video that I could contain myself.

In that video it was observed how there was at least one patrol of the Sinaloa State Police on fire and at least a dozen armed men deployed in the surroundings, that scene occurred at the intersection of Álvaro Obregón Avenue with Universitarios Boulevard, the main road to get to the north of Culiacán , to the area where he used to live.

How many times have I not stayed on that corner aboard a truck? How many times did I ride that junction? I, who like to make sense of the places I visit, even non-places, was seeing what would be the third memory, the most shocking that had occurred at that junction.

When I was going to imagine that time I fell on my bicycle, several meters from where the patrol was left, that there would be an official vehicle on fire. What would I know, that time when I got off the truck at that junction, when at the same time I told a woman who had been crying for minutes, to be strong and that she could, that there would be armed men securing the entrance to the north sector from the city.

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After seeing him, I no longer knew what I felt, I only knew that my mind was already calmer, the despair had gone, Brenda and I hugged each other, she felt calmer knowing that I would not leave.

More hours passed and the city became even darker, there were only lights from the headlights outside the houses, poor quality public lamps and dozens of vehicles still on fire.

After dinner, we went back to Rodrigo’s room, we began to accommodate the place where we would sleep. I don’t remember if there was a fluid conversation or if there was one, I’m not sure what time we ended up sleeping.

Supposedly between 9:00 p.m. and 10:00 p.m. there was no longer a report of armed men, only
the burning vehicles and corpses were left in various parts of the city, most of them were civilians, innocent victims, since the criminals had been taken the bodies of his men, a fact that did not allow knowing how many dead that violent day actually left.

We finally slept, I was working Friday morning, they told us we could be late.

The next day, October 18, 2019, Rodrigo took Brenda and Brayan to their homes, located in the southern sector of the city.

Driving down Álvaro Obregón Avenue, on the stretch from my friend’s house to the Center of the city, there was a charred car in the middle of the bridge, I don’t know if there were two of them. I don’t know if that matters anymore.

I think it was 8 in the morning when we made that trip and the streets were lonely, we got to the house of both without problems, only in silence.

When I got to work, I started uploading the information I had about what happened, Rodrigo entered in the afternoon (we work in the same place), so after spending time at the office he decided to go home and return at his hour of duty. entry.

Little by little more colleagues arrived, only a few did not go to the office. Little by little they began to tell the anecdotes, what had happened to them, where they were and what they saw.

Some, like me, had not been able to get home, some were locked up in the least expected places, even without food.

As I wrote at the beginning, what happened that day caused at least a dozen news items to be published daily for more than a month, but Mexico only cared until two days later.

My reflections on the violence of that day and the causes that caused it are not something I want to write about here. I was not in the Tres Ríos sector, I did not have to lie in the kitchens of restaurants and bars for more than eight hours with bullets in the background.

I write this because it is the least I should write, for memory, for death, for fear and for me.