Tag Archives: Celaya

And Justice for All?

There was no justice to be had for this man in Moroleón.

There was no justice to be had for this man in Moroleón.

The court proceedings concerning the moto accident between my in-laws and the police finally occurred a year and a half after my mother-in-law’s death (See on Life and Liberty). During the month of September, my father-in-law reported to court an average of 2-3 times per week.

So 2-3 times per week, my father-in-law rode his bicycle from La Yacata to the courthouse or the lawyer’s office.

This legal process was exasperated when the police officer involved or his lawyer or the witnesses did not appear in court and my father-in-law spent hours cooling his heels in the outer office.

We thought that perhaps that the no-shows would be in my father-in-law’s favor. Little did we realize that their absence was a mark of how trivial they felt these proceedings to be since they already knew what the outcome would be.

Decisions of guilt or innocence are not determined by a jury of your peers in México, but by the sole discretion of the judge. In Moroleón, all penal cases are determined by La Juez, whose children I had been teaching for several years. I had come to respect her over the years and appreciated her advice during the difficult week when my mother-in-law died and Chuchi slapped me with a demanda (See The First Demanda and La Novena). However, mitigating this esteem was the fact that her husband was the forensic specialist for the police in Moroleón. And him I was never too impressed with. The forensic evidence submitted by the police included a film of an accident that wasn’t with my in-laws and a dent in the driver’s side door which was used as conclusive “proof” that the moto hit the truck and, therefore, the fault of my father-in-law, completely discounting the conflicting evidence of the injuries sustained by my in-laws.

Forensics here is proclaimed the new messiah and unlike CSI, there is no attempt to find logical connections between the evidence and the action. For instance, if your fingerprints are on your own wallet that was stolen, the judge might determine that you yourself gave the wallet to the thief since there were no other fingerprints on it. Whatever!

With such logic, a dent in the door must mean that the moto hit the truck and caused the accident, not that the force of the impact caused the moto to spin from the front of the truck around to the opposite side and hit the door after throwing the passengers into the air–or so it would seem.

Despite witness testimony, despite testimony from my father-in-law, despite the injuries sustained by my in-laws all charges against the police officer were dropped and instead the charges were laid at my father-in-law’s feet for him to disprove. He awaits sentencing at the end of the month.

An appeal has been submitted to the district court in Celaya, but no court date has been set.

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Getting Legal–Trip 5 and Residency at last

This is how I imagine I look with my new Mexican residency.

This is how I imagine I look with my new Mexican residency.

Although the SEGOB website told me that I should report to the office on the 10th of the month, we had to delay this trip. First, we had to get a new battery for the truck (see Getting Legal–Trip 3). Then we had to repair the piece of the undercarriage that was damaged on the last trip (See Getting Legal–Trip 4) and we also had to obtain another verification sticker (See Getting Legal–Trip 1) to avoid multas (fines) or mordidas (bribes). But finally, on the 18th of the month, we were ready to go.

My husband began his marching about very early the next morning and shooed us out of the house before my son and I were quite awake. We said our prayers or crossed ourselves asking for a safe and successful journey there and back and started out.

We arrived in San Miguel de Allende very early, it was just after 8 a.m. As the office didn’t open until 9 a.m. and there wasn’t a soul in sight, we parked and walked a block to the Bodega for a second breakfast. We were only gone about 10 minutes, but when we returned, there was a line from the door to the street. I got in line with the rest and waited. I felt a little odd next to the gringos with their carrot juice and granola bars with my canned coffee and a huge chocolate doughnut bigger than my hand, but what can I say? The doughnut ended up being more than I could comfortably eat, but I didn’t want to risk my place in line to throw it in the trash, so I choked it down.

Being experienced at this, my husband and I opted for the divide and conquer approach when the doors finally opened and the stampede entered. He went to the main counter and got a number, I went to the little window and got a number. The main counter number came up first, so I went to ask about what I needed to do to legally work in México now that I was about to receive my permanent residency. It’s surprisingly easy considering all the hoops I had to jump through to get to this point. (See Getting Legal–Working Papers).

Then I waiting for the window ticket. It wasn’t exceptionally long, under an hour. I got to the counter, my husband right there with me in case he had to soothe my nerves (See Getting Legal–Trip 3) and the clerk asked what I was there for. I said, hopefully, to pick up my residency. He asked what the website said, and when I said just to come and present myself at the office, he said then my residency probably wasn’t ready yet, but that he’d look anyway. So for a heart lurching moment, I waited, fingers crossed, but it was there after all. I signed saying that I received my document and at my husband’s urging, checked it right then, to make sure it was in the envelope. Ironically, or perhaps intentionally, the card for Mexican permanent residency is green. So now I have my “green card”–get it? Even my photo (no bangs, no glasses, no earrings) wasn’t too bad. I floated out to the truck.

We were stopped in Celaya even with our two verification stickers prominently displayed on the windshield. The transito (traffic cop) asked to see my husband’s driver’s license and permiso de circular (permission to circulate the vehicle). He had both documents, so there was no problem and we continued on down the road.

We stopped in Yuriria for lunch and had tacos de tripa (tripe tacos) to celebrate a successful conclusion to this process.

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Getting Legal–Trip 4

immigration office sma

Well, since trip 3 was a bust (See Getting Legal–Trip 3) I needed to go back when I had enough money. I scrimped and saved, but it wasn’t enough for the trip and the documentation. So, I asked for an advance on my paycheck and we scheduled the trip.

It started out just like the others. We woke up early, although not as early as the last one, fed or moved to pasture the animals, and had our coffee. My husband had made bread the night before so that we could take a loaf with us since we didn’t have any extra cash to eat out. My son filled a water bottle and we were off. We said our prayers, this time including the successful completion of this legalization process along with a safe journey to San Miguel de Allende and back home.

My husband had cleaned the battery cables in the hope that it would give us one last trip before dying and although we had to push start again, it seemed to be running better.

We cruised through Celaya‘s transito (traffic) verification stop and were making good time. Eleven kilometers from San Miguel de Allende the truck began to shake. We were on a bridge and couldn’t pull over. The moment we could, we stopped and jumped out to check it out. Nothing under the hood seemed remiss, so my husband went under the truck. Immediately, he found the problem. La cruceta de la flecha que va pegada el eje (the joint in the back axle that holds everything together) had come loose and fallen off. Most of the pieces were still there, but one of the clips was gone, lost somewhere on the other side of the bridge.

There wasn’t anything to be done but try and piece something together and get to a yonke (junk yard) or auto parts store and see if we had enough to buy the piece with the less than $130 to spare between us. So my husband went under the truck again to attempt this death-defying feat.

Here's the dangerous curve we managed to pull off at.  Looks so innocent free of traffic  doesn't it?

Here’s the dangerous curve we managed to pull off at. Looks so innocent free of traffic doesn’t it?

I mean literally, death-defying. We were clearly off the side of the road, however since it is common for large and heavy vehicles to straddle the solid white or yellow line (See Driving Hazards–slow moving vehicles) we were in mortal danger.

I moved 100 meters or so down the road near the curve and made myself sentinel, waving cars on the line to the right. My son said I looked like I was shooing goats into the corral, but seriously, goats are easier than Mexican drivers to direct. I was sure that any minute we would be splattered to the winds, my husband, my son, me and the truck, by an 18 wheeler or tour bus barreling down the road. Talk about hair-raising!

Only one driver stopped to offer what assistance he could, but my husband thanked him and declined, deciding not to leave my son and me with the truck on the side of the road.

An hour and six near misses later, my husband crawled from out beneath Butch (the truck). He had flattened a nail to replace the missing joint and hoped it would hold. His hands visibly shaking, he started the car and we headed toward San Miguel, eyes peeled for a place to get the replacement piece.

We stopped at Banamex to make the payment of $3815 pesos, then headed to SEGOB (the Mexican Immigration Office) with the receipt. I took a number and waited. My husband came in with me to help me keep my temper with the clerks, but he needed have worried. I was so exhausted from the adrenaline rush I had from directing traffic that I didn’t want any trouble.

I had a nice conversation with a tall, elderly gentleman in line behind me. He was there for fingerprinting and had lived 13 years in México. He seemed to think my life in La Yacata was amazing. Go figure!

Finally, it was my turn. I gave la muchacha (young lady) my receipt, but she needed 3 copies of it, plus the original, so I sent my husband scurrying across the street for those while I signed and signed. I turned the copies in, she stamped them and then, obviously remembering me (or perhaps my anguished outburst) from the last trip, asked where I lived. She said if I would wait a few minutes, she would find out what the probability was that I could leave my fingerprints today as well, thus saving me another trip. So I waited.

About 10 minutes later, she came back to say that if I came back before 1 p.m. (when the office closed) I would be able to get fingerprinted. As it was only 11 a.m., we headed out to look for the truck part and see if we could get that done in the meantime.

We had to tell our son, who had waited with the truck, that we would not make it back to Moroleón before school started that afternoon. (See Homeschool Variation) He had worn his uniform and done his homework on the trip, and was a bit worried what the maestro (teacher) might say, but my husband said he would take him to school for his assignments when we arrived home.

So we set off in search of the piece. The first auto parts store had the piece, but it was too big for the make and model of our truck. The second two didn’t have the foggiest idea what my husband was asking for. The fourth place had the piece but wouldn’t sell just the clip, so $100 it was for the whole thing. My husband was pleased and ducked under the truck to do the repairs. Ten minutes later, it was fixed. With our remaining $30 pesos, we bought some oranges for lunch and some elotes (ears of corn) for later.

We went back to SEGOB and broke our bread, peeled some oranges and drank some water, grateful for our abundance and fortune this day. At 12:30, I trotted back inside because entrance would be denied at 1 p.m. for anyone that isn’t written in the big appointment book at the front desk. Just shy of 1 p.m. the muchacha (young lady) called my name and had me leave my fingerprints on the application that would now be sent to México City for processing. She told me to check online in about 3 weeks to see when I could come and pick up my document.

I thanked her sincerely and left. We cruised through the SMA verification checkpoint and then through the Celaya verification checkpoint without incident. We arrived home, exhausted but with a feeling of accomplishment that was lacking the last trip.

One down, one more to go.

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Getting Legal–Trip 3

SEGOB office in San Miguel de Allende

SEGOB office in San Miguel de Allende

I had been aiming to make the third trek to San Miguel de Allende around the 13th of the month, thinking that time and finances would be better. However, my husband started worrying me about the trip, asking me when was the last day I could go and what I had to do in this next step and hence I started having nightmares that I had missed out on getting my papers by one day or that I completely forgot to go and then was thrown out of México. So I moved up the date of the trip, after having checked on the official website to see that my papers had been approved for the next step on the 10th of this month, a mere 12 days after I submitted them (See Getting Legal–Trip 2) I remembered seeing a sign in the office saying I had 30 days for tramites so just to be safe, we would go the 9th. Maybe even stop in San Pedro for some shoes.

My husband woke up and started marching around at 4 a.m. that morning, for who knows what reason. He was worried about taking care of the animals before we left. However, that whole process (taking Beauty and Shadow to pasture and moving Shrek and Fiona to a fresh grassy spot) took a whopping 15 minutes. The goats, chickens and ducks were not awake yet, so no point in throwing food at them so early as food lying about is an open invitation to ants.

So we left the house super early. Each of us said our prayers for a safe journey and we were off. Well, not quite. Our truck battery had decided to call it quits, so my son and I gave old Butch (the truck) a good shove to get her going and then we were off.

We stopped for gas as it doesn’t do to start a trip without a full tank (see Driving Hazards–Gas and Illumination) and the truck wouldn’t start again. Fortunately, at that hour, there was little traffic and we could push-start.

Having gotten up at an unearthly hour, my husband needed an extra cup of coffee, which then required an emergency pit-stop just before we got to Celaya. As the battery was still giving us fits, we had to give it another push to get going again.

We made it through Celaya without a transito stop (See Driving Hazards–Police stops) but we weren’t too worried since our verficación sticker (inspection sticker) was still good until the end of the month. (See Getting Legal–Trip 1)

We arrived in San Miguel de Allende at 8:30 and parked in the bus stop area near the immigration office because it was on a slight downhill slant. My husband stayed in the car in case transitos (traffic police) came cruising by and I went to stand in line.

The office opened at 9 a.m. and I marched myself to the little window for a number. I was #6, so it was only 9:30 or so when it was my turn. The business tycoon in front of me gave the girl a hard time about his papers not being ready and I was feeling smug about how my papers were all in order until she told me that although I had been approved for processing, the next step was to make the payment of $3815 pesos.

What??? I thought the next step was to leave my fingerprints to send to D.F. for approval and then the 4th step was the payment and told her as much. About this time, my husband came in (I expect to check on me) and said that it wasn’t the girl’s fault, so I shouldn’t take it out on her. I thought I was calm about it–ok, so deep down I knew I had transformed into the type of annoying ex-pat that I feel superior to when he or she starts in on the inefficiency of the Mexican immigration process. But I couldn’t help it.

So my husband took over. He asked when the last day was that I could process my papers. She looked it over and said I had about a month. She also said that it might be possible to process my fingerprints the same day as the payment so that I would not have to make another trip. She was helpful and polite. However, my blood pressure had already risen and I was having some problem getting ahold of myself.

I had canceled all my classes for the day for this trip. I had spent money I didn’t have to spare for gas for this trip. I had been awake since 4 a.m. for this trip. I didn’t have the money to make the payment today. Yaddy-yaddy-yah.

My husband took hold of my arm and escorted me from the building. He pointed out that being upset wouldn’t change a thing. Since when has he been the paragon of virtue in the patience department? I certainly didn’t need any lessons from him. So I sat in silence and stewed in my own juices until we got to Celaya in mourning for my new shoes.

In Celaya, of course, there was a traffic stop for verification stickers, but we breezed through without incident. I started to calm down a bit. We stopped in San Pedro as we had planned. I didn’t see any shoes I liked, so I felt a little better about that loss.

Then we went to the roadside buffet we liked, but again I was out of luck. Usually, I get rice, beans, and huevos rancheros or nopales, but today everything was pork. Pork in mole. Pork in tomatillo salsa. Pork in red sauce. Blah! So just beans and rice for me thank you. Disappointing. Then the pushing of the truck took longer since there was no incline and my son and I huffed and puffed nearly 1/8 of a mile until it started, but it did start and we made it home safely.

I suggested that next time we pray for a safe journey and successful completion of the task at hand. Perhaps we had not been specific enough in our prayers. I was so tired and down that I took an afternoon siesta that afternoon. Maybe the next trip would be better.

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