Juan Soldado

4 06 2008

 A Story of Violence, Haunting, and Hope on the Borderlands 

My dad and I stumbled onto the scene several summers ago, when I was hiding out in Tijuana from reality and my crazy ex-vieja, who got so cranked on crystal meth one night, she called me the Antichrist. My father, a staunch Irish-Catholic, was startled by the festive atmosphere in the graveyard. People were having a good time as they partied with the dead; children were everywhere, playing tag around the tombstones as their musical laughter rang through the graveyard. A man placed a recent picture of his son, dark and surly in a Raiders jacket, on a small table inside the shrine. In a scribbled note accompanying the photo, the father pleaded with Juan Soldado to save his son from prison: You know he is innocent, he implored; you have to free him before something terrible happens inside that jail.

The image stayed with me, and a few weeks later I noticed a new picture, with father and son posing in front of a church, pinned to the wall above the old note. His son had been freed, and the father had come to the altar on his knees to give thanks to the soldier-saint.

-taken from Patrick Maher’s article in the San Diego Reader
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