Editor’s Note – Carlos Gutierrez fled Mexico in 2011 after criminals cut off his legs for refusing to pay extortion fees. His goal now in a 13-day 701-mile bicycle trip from El Paso to Austin sponsored by Mexicanos en Exilio is to raise awareness of the continuing violence and corruption in Mexico.
Our day began early, but none of us had gotten much sleep due to the combination of last minute preparations and nerves. We arrived at Lincoln Park in El Paso shivering in the cold, dry air that blows over the Chihuahuan Desert in the fall.
Univision Miami had already arrived and were setting up, checking bikes, mics, cameras, prepping make-up for the big story that was about to air. A few weeks ago, Carlos Gutierrez had been rolling burritos at a local Mexican restaurant and now we were surrounded by media and fans.
The media gaze is strange, surreal, cameras rolling, microphones in your faces, the excitement that builds around that constructed reality. It is exciting, not because of the fame that comes with it, but rather the notion that the work we have been doing since 2009 will finally be heard, that perhaps something positive can come from all that has been lost.
And that is why we get out of bed every morning because we cannot rest until justice is served. Carlos will never get his legs back and the members of Mexicanos en Exilio will never hold their murdered family members again or retrieve the businesses and lives left behind, but we will not give up or let it rest.
Carlos’ journey is just a moving metaphor for what every single one of our members’ lives every day –a long, tiring, inspiring journey for justice. We are so honored that so many people have taken an interest in our humble yet powerful organization and that Carlos has stepped forward as a leader.
Just two years ago he was a broken man who thought his life was over, but the support he received from the kind people of our community has given him a second chance and he, much to his credit, has chosen to use this second chance to help others.
Today was long. The riders got to Ft. Hancock with sunburned faces and aching bodies, but everyone wore smiles. We are so excited to be taking this journey and with the power of social media we can have this experience with you.
Thank you for inviting us onto your screens and into your hearts and for all of the messages of love and support that have come pouring in. This is the first time Carlos or Mexicanos en Exilio has attempted to do anything of this magnitude and for it to be received so well is incredibly moving.
As exiles sometimes we feel that we are being ignored and forgotten by two countries, but your words of support nourish us on this journey. Please keep contacting us and sharing your stories. We know that so many people have been affected by the violence being perpetrated by authorized crime. We hope this is the beginning of a larger movement and if we could do it without money, resources, and in Carlos’ case, legs then anyone can. We invite you to take this ride with us.