Marisol Valles may have been called the bravest woman in Mexico. Lucky for her son, she is not also the dumbest one. The 21-year-old mother of an 8-month-old and criminology student has been fired from her job as police chief of the small Mexican town of Praxedis, a position she took after the former chief was kidnapped and beheaded in 2009 with his head left as a warning outside the police station.
Reports through CNN say that Valles fled for the United States over the weekend, though local Mexican authorities have not confirmed anything. She claimed to be taking a leave for her sick child, but when she failed to return as promised, the town released a statement:
In the absence of [Valles Garcia's] presence on the agreed-upon day, and since there was no notification of a need to extend the period of her absence, the mayor has decided to remove her from office.
And, unfortunately, "them's the breaks." She may be brave to have taken the job, but it sounds like she isn't stupid. She knew the risk, but perhaps she underestimated? And let's face it, the risk was great.
Last month, on the News Hour, Valles admitted that she feared for her life:
I am afraid like everyone here. And I take precautions, but hope is stronger than fear.
If only we could still believe her. Of course, it isn't her job to act as target practice for the thugs, but she knew the risk. And she has good reason to fear. The rival drug cartels in Mexico are notoriously ruthless and kill and kidnap with abandon. There are deserted neighborhoods where the drug cartels have taken over and only 10 police officers. The department only has two police cars and her office is covered in bullet holes.
Who among us wouldn't have fled, too? Then again, I wouldn't have taken the job in the first place. Was it bravery or naivete that caused her to take it? As of now, it's unclear and while I respect her need to keep her family safe (who wouldn't have done the same?!), it also makes sense that she was fired.
Because part of being the sheriff was standing up to the thugs, even when it seemed insane to do so. How would law and order ever be restored if they can intimidate everyone? The danger is very real -- according to the Mexican government, there have been in excess of 34,600 drug-related deaths since their president ordered a crackdown on cartels five years ago -- but a person who can be intimidated is obviously not a person who should be in that position.
Valles was a criminology student when she took the job and said she did so, despite her fear, for the good of her community. She also said she would focus more on administrative tasks and community-building and less on the drug cartels. At her swearing in, she said:
I took the risk because I want my son to live in a different community to the one we have today. I want people to be able to go out without fear, as it was before.
Perhaps she underestimated just how much fear could really influence her.
Do you think she should have been fired?
Image via YouTube