I have been intending to write one day about the female police officers here in Mexico. There are many of them, and that surprised me. I am not above stereotyping Mexicans as machistas and pretty señoritas, as tough guys and girls who wear hibiscus tucked behind one ear. But then I arrived and encountered all these women in bulletproof vests, carrying guns, riding wary-eyed in the back of police pickups.
Are they more effective? I wondered. Is a feminine touch a better diffuser of conflict?
Are they less likely to be offed by the local drug cartel that claims it would never condone the killing of women and children?
Or are police departments, bolstered by President Calderón’s drug war funding, the only places hiring these days?
I still don’t know the answers, but my curiosity just got bigger. Last week, Marisol Valles García, a pretty twenty-year old criminology student and mother, was sworn in as Chief of Police of a town called Práxedis Guadalupe Guerrero, not far from Ciudad Juarez, that infamous border city considered “the most dangerous city in the world.”
It goes without saying that Ms. Valles did not have a lot of competition for this post. It is also noteworthy that she will not be the only woman on the force, of the 19 police officers Ms. Valles will oversee, 9 are also women.
When she was asked whether or not she was afraid, Marisol Valles replied: “Here, everyone is afraid, we are all afraid. But we are going to exchange this fear for safety.”
So I ask this: who better than a mother to soothe fears and make us feel safe?
May she too stay safe.