Yes, It’s true: I was arrested in Mexico, not so long ago. During that time I had stayed only in our new residence. Sad to say that only stepping out a block from your own home here in Tijuana, could end in a bad night.
My husband and I, ventured out in our new neighborhood to buy some tacos for dinner. It was 8 pm and chilly, yet chose to wear my pajamas since we were not going far. We stopped and purchased a beer mix called “Michelada” then proceeded to buy tacos. I am usually a stickler about open containers in public, but not on this day, I thought nothing of it. We were waiting in line to order, when a truck belonging to the Mexican police department stopped and called my husband over.
I have been in Mexico for 3 years. I have seen how dangerous it can be, how criminals and government officials harm the public. I have seen enough for me to get a bit defensive when any one approaches us in an aggressive manner.
I approached their vehicle, with the drink in my hand. The officer explained we should not be drinking in public. I apologized and said we would go home we did not live far. My husband took that route as well. We had taken a couple sips from the Michelada when we first got it and the cup was basically full. The officer apparently did not like his conversation with us and pushed us back when he opened his door and stormed towards my husband. I placed myself in front and ask what was wrong. The officer said my husband had been disrespectful. I refused for him to get anywhere near my husband. It caused quite a scene. But the people, so use to commotion with officials, decided to continue on with their activities.
The officer ended up arresting us and hauling us to a police station, no where near where we were. When we arrived at our destination, my rear end was numb and we were cold. The police officer then had us wait in a corner at the delegation office. We then were brought to a room where a man sat behind a desk. He began to ask questions about the incident. We understood that the law does not allow drinking in public. Though to us, on a friday night in Tijuana, we should not have been treated like animals because we had a beer we had just purchased a block from our home. I believe there are things they needed to be out doing that were more important than the situation at hand. We apologized and understood we broke the law unknowingly. We were then returned to the corner, as the man behind the desk and the officers talked and laughed. The officer who arrested us then came and gave us an option, that if we paid then that they would let us go and we wouldn’t have to go to jail. He said that we would have to pay a situation any way, which is what the “judge” had just declared in their meeting.
Up until then I had an idea of what was going on. But now I knew exactly. We were hauled off like animals for a ticket, presented to a judge with out lawyers, and were now being black mailed.
I chose not to give in. I told the officer that we only had enough for tacos on us. The officer then proceeded to ask us if we would have done the same in the United States. My husband replied, “In the United States people have rights and we would have not been treated as you treated us.” So our destination had been chosen.
Off to jail.
We were hauled again in the back of the truck to another long distance, they even brought us all the way back because they had “forgotten” the paper work, of-course keep in mind they weren’t informing us of anything that was going on. The recklessly sped to our destination.
They dropped us off and left. My husband and I were separated. I was placed in a cold cell with urine on the floor with a weird unnecessary (possibly a mistake) of a room structure. I was approached by a female officer and was asked my name, date of birth, and if I was on any drugs. I wasn’t on anything by the way.
It was becoming clearer and clearer that I was going to stay the night. Even more so when three women who worked at a bar were placed in the cell with me. They started asking the officers how long they had in there. I followed their lead and asked for myself. The female officer let me know that I only had a couple hours left and I would be let out. I was of course relieved as well as proud that I had not cried just because I felt like I didn’t belong in a mexican jail cell. Because really I was seeing things in a different prospective.
Shortly after another woman was placed in the cell. She was talking to herself in the corner. The other women ignored her or laughed. But some of the things she said made sense. “You think they care? who you are? where you went to school? They don’t.” she would ramble. “I wasn’t doing anything, but these days they don’t really need a reason to lock me up, they just bring me here.” Some things she said made me really feel the injustice of this place, “Yea Im crazy. Thats all you all see.”
The women were asked to strip any belongings off an place them in bags. The “crazy” lady started screaming and didn’t seem like she would stop anytime soon. They asked me to leave my things on and then said that I was free to go. I signed a clip board on my way out.
That was it. But my husband was no where in the line of men waiting to sign out. I headed to the front office to ask about my husband. The receptionist let me know that he is out at 5 am or I can pay his bail of 600 pesos. I had no money on me, it was the middle of the night and I had no idea where I was. The panic must have shown on my face. She told me that it was okay, she was going to print something out and they would let him out.
I waited on a bench outside until he came out. We walked and asked for directions to taxis and then went home. We arrived home at 2 in the morning. Not having eaten anything for dinner, but glad to be home.
What did I learn? Not to let my guard down and the extent of injustices that happen in the judicial system in Mexico.
I should have already known that. It is always worse when you see and experience it for your self.