The New York Times,
The Police Gazette
and Fox TV

Part I

Our regional newspaper, the Imparcial, has a bit of the New York Times and quite a bit of The Police Gazette/Fox TV about it. The New York Times is represented by serious, long-winded editorials shipped in from the north and reprinted in small type with no pictures. None at all.

The society pages are like the Times too, with merry debutantes named María de la Cruz Villahermosa or Carmen Sevilliana de Bosco or Adriana Aguilar de Piñon --- complete with merry smiles, white dresses and fine teeth.

The Fox TV/Police Gazette-flavored goodies are hidden away on the last four pages, after the classifieds, in a daily crime section called "Policiaca." In "Policiaca," all wrecks, murders, drug arrests, prostitution busts, sex scandals, exhumed bodies and other malfeasances get banner headlines and extensive reporting --- safely segregated from Maria, Adriana and the New York Times editorials.

It's typical police blotter stuff. The only difference is the gritty photographs, shots as raw as one could want. Ladies of the night standing in a row, a bit out of focus, but clear enough so we can see them glowering at the camera. Males arrested for pimping, pandering, and plundering are all given a nice spread --- black-and-white mug shots of sullen members of the cartel, caught with five kilos of this or that tucked away in the trunks of their cars.

Above everything else, Reality shines through: those startling head-on photographs of the shot, stabbed, garroted, mutilated, drowned and buried alive --- those who have been hurried from this vale of tears by accidents, mayhem or other violent means. Apparently there's no limit to the blood, gore, stained mortuary sheets, bloated faces and rot that the good readers of the Imparcial will put up with.

I have before me yesterday's issue which features a newly discovered unidentified "calcificado" body --- male, approximately twenty-five years of age --- who recently turned up in a home-made lime-pit in the wilds somewhere south of Santa Cruz Xoxocotlán. Such is the newspaper's interest in our calcified stranger that we get a distant shot from the back side, a second, closer view --- complete with police clutching notebooks and cameras --- and, as the coup de main, a side shot of the head taken from mere inches away. The photographs are three columns wide, and I found they made a surprisingly rich accompaniment to my bacon and eggs, tortillas, jam and coffee at the Cafe Tia María, my usual breakfast nook.

The "calcificado" is not the only show-stopper in yesterday's issue of Imparcial. There's a particularly clear head shot of one Manuel Pérez Alonso who was, apparently, nailed between the eyes while visiting the community of Zimatlan. We don't know, at least the Imparcial doesn't know, why young Manuel, eighteen or so, was wasted. There is, too, Señor Anonymous, approximately fifty years of age, head and torso shown from his left (or weaker) side. He was done in, we are informed, by El Escuadrón de Muerto --- "The Squadron of Death."

Next comes Señor Silvino Juarez, two bullets to the breadbasket (no photo). On the back page we have four young men in regulation black T-shirts, sneering at the camera, arrested in Oaxaca for stealing a radio (two columns --- radio not shown); a very hairy and dirty Edgar Ramirez picked up for beating up on people at a cantina in Zaachila; and a large public notice, without pix, telling us that one Juan López Sánchez is pothering around town, telling everybody that he works for the Imparcial.

They vigorously deny him and his employment. The rest of us want to know why he would ever bother.

--- Carlos Amantea


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