June 10, 2010
Today Sergio Hernandez Guereca was buried high in a mountainside grave overlooking the vast urban desert of Ciudad Juarez and El Paso, Texas. Hernandez is the 15 year old boy who was shot dead by a border patrol agent on Monday– a tragic event that has flared tensions between the Mexican and American governments.
Friends, family and media trailed behind a grey and blue hearse up a lonely hillside in the far western outskirts of the city. He was buried in Panteon Jardines de Recuerdos, or Garden of Memories. The cemetery is a atop a desert plateau with a magnificent view of the two sister cities.
I was driving along with fellow reporter John Burnett of National Public Radio in a white Chevy Malibu that was far too fancy to drive comfortably in Juarez. We were near the tail end of the procession and I marveled at the height of the cemetery and the long procession of cars and buses.
The scene at the grave sight was intense. The sight and sounds of grieving family members hits hard emotionally. My mind immediately flashed back to the funeral day of six teenagers who were gunned down at a birthday party earlier this year. The sobs, the anger, the frustration and hopelessness were inescapably in-your-face.
Sergio Hernandez Guereca was perhaps no angel (American officials have said he has a criminal record) and anyone who trespasses in the limbo zone between Mexico and the United States is putting themselves in a risky situation– but the sense I get from most people in El Paso and Juarez is that his death is unjustified. A video released today by a Spanish language television news network certainly casts doubts on what American officials have told the media thus far about the shooting.
The mayor of Juarez told us in an interview this afternoon that the case will have to work it’s way through the American judicial system in order for all sides to be presented and a resolution to be sought. I’m grateful for the technology that made that citizen video possible. Such public documentation can be a powerful tool in the path to justice.