Protect and Defend

Welcome to my blog, Protect and Defend. You don’t have to understand me. You only have to agree with me. I can live with losing the good fight, but I can not live with not fighting that good fight at all. - Publius

Saturday, June 03, 2006

The Coyote Mayor

My last story from today’s Washington Post (June 2, 2006).

CARA SUCIA, El Salvador -- Narciso Ramírez strode through the throng of supplicants waiting outside the mayor's office on a recent morning with the expansive smile of a man who had just been elected by a landslide.
A middle school dropout with no experience in government, Ramírez had taken on a three-term incumbent belonging to the region's most successful political party.
But the 45-year-old rancher, widely known by his nickname, "Don Chicho," offered a credential far more persuasive in these parts. By his own account, Ramírez has helped about 200 residents sneak into the United States over the years by lending them money for their journeys and providing a list of friendly contacts along the route. According to Salvadoran officials, Ramírez's role went further. In 2002, they charged him with heading an international network of at least 50 smugglers.
He was acquitted of the charges, but many residents of this far western town say Ramírez was the area's top coyote, or people smuggler, for much of the 1990s, personally guiding groups of 150 to 200 at a time up through Mexico into the United States…
At 21, still penniless, he sneaked into the United States, living first in Houston, then in the District and Arlington. By 1989, Ramírez had saved enough from jobs in restaurants and construction to return to Cara Sucia permanently and start several businesses
Ramírez, who obtained permanent residency status in the United States through a 1986 amnesty, would frequently drive to the United States to buy cars and spare parts for his businesses and to visit relatives. Locals say it wasn't long before he branched into smuggling people…
During a recent interview in his home, Ramírez said emphatically that he never earned anything for helping people get to the United States. But according to residents, Ramírez charged about $3,400 for his services and did a brisk business…
But Salvadoran authorities were not convinced that Ramírez had actually retired. In the 2002 case, he was charged with defrauding clients who were allegedly abandoned in Mexico by coyotes under his command when they were stopped by police…
In searching Ramírez's house, authorities said, they found deeds to more than 200 homes that Ramírez had confiscated from clients unable to pay him.
U.S. officials immediately stripped Ramírez of his permanent residency, and a two-year battle in Salvadoran courts ensued.
For the first 14 months of the investigation and trial, Ramírez was kept in one of El Salvador's most notorious prisons...
In the end, five members of Ramírez's alleged group were convicted in the United States and two in Mexico. Ramírez and three others were tried in El Salvador and found not guilty…
Ramírez, despite his insistence that he never smuggled people for money, said he strongly objects to the law against it.
"It's an exaggeration. How can you make it a crime to help somebody who needs to get out of extreme poverty by the only way possible?" he said.


Blogger betmo said...

or make money off of the backs of the people who don't have it. it reminds me of the africans on the continent who sold their own to the slavers. too bad he is too obtuse to see that they could have come into the front door. or he isn't- and is just an entrepreneur.

Sat Jun 03, 09:33:00 AM  
Blogger Publius said...

What I find interesting though is that he was granted amnesty in the 1986 Amnesty bill, he became a citizen to make money and then went back to El Salvador to smuggle in more people.
Now, as the gang MS-13 is an El Salvadorian gang, I can’t help but wonder if Don Chico helped some members of the most violent gang in America get into this country.
I do think it shows something about the culture south of the U.S. border that this is the type person they look to for leadership.

Sat Jun 03, 04:59:00 PM  
Blogger betmo said...

it is an interesting thought. i only just learned of ms-13 recently. i can't help but think that they won't overlook the opportunity to make money trafficking in human lives.

Sat Jun 03, 07:18:00 PM  
Blogger Publius said...

Betmo, I have talked about MS-13 in the past, they are currently concentrated in Southern California and the DC Metro area. To read an old post I wrote about the gang and to learn more about them go to:
Oh, and you will see, I have been talking about illegal immigration since I started this blog because many of these Hispanic gang members are illegal immigrants, and there is nothing in the Senate bill (S. 2611) that would prevent them from being granted amnesty as well.

Sat Jun 03, 09:04:00 PM  

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