Last night nearly 150 people on both sides of the U.S./Mexico border came together in a vigil to commemorate the recent death of Jose Antonio Elena Rodriguez and other teenagers killed in recent years by the U.S. Border Patrol. Elena Rodriguez was shot multiple times in the back on October 10, 2012. Border Patrol agents claim he was part of a group of teenagers throwing rocks at them from the Nogales, Mexico side. But the height of the border fence from the corner where the boy’s body was found has made locals question this story. According to the Southern Border Communities Coalition, this is the third such killing by Border Patrol agents over the past six weeks.
Protesters marched in silence along the steel barrier that separates Nogales, Arizona from Nogales, Mexico. At the point closest to where the boy’s body was found American protesters met their Mexican counterparts across the fence and exchanged candles, flowers, and sympathies.
On Wednesday, October 10, 2012 Border Patrol agents shot 16-year old Jose Antonio Elena Rodriguez to death. His body was found in Nogales, Mexico just across the street from the border fence, below a 10 foot vertical drop. One Mexican government official, speaking anonymously because an official investigation is still pending, said the boy was shot seven times in the back. As you can see, when I passed by on Saturday his blood stains were still dried on the sidewalk where they found him.
It’s not clear yet what took place, and news account are full of that vague, empty official-speak that follows every time an event like this inevitably occurs. According to the Border Patrol, the boy was part of a crowd that was throwing rocks at agents that went to investigate a drug package on the U.S. side. just look up at the fence, however, you’ll see how unlikely it is that anyone could throw a rock through it in any way that would be a threat to anyone on our side of the fence. All an agent would have to do is take a few steps back and he would be out of throwing distance.
And even if he was throwing rocks, is this something that warrants capital punishment now? After all, this is the fifth case since 2010 of Border Patrol agents opening fire on rock throwing teenagers from the Mexican side, and back in January 2011 they shot and killed another teenager. You would think that the Border Patrol is getting training from the Israelis on how to deal with the “threat” of rocks.
The FBI and the Mexican government are carrying out their own parallel investigations into what happened. As usual, the Mexican government timidly expresses its outrage, and yet continues to play the role of the lap-dog of the American government, carrying out a war on drugs that is drowning the country in blood at the request of the Obama administration.
Expect more hand-wringing, more stern words of disapproval, and more cooperation between the U.S. and Mexico as they high-five over the border fence and continue to pump more money in militarizing the border. Or maybe the U.S. will smooth over the situation by selling more guns to the Sinaloa Cartel. Either way, expect a similar shooting to follow in the near future. As long as these teenagers have the decency to die quietly on the other side of the fence it’s not our responsibility any more.