eisenhower cup and of the instead let's get serious. this is absurd. that's not going to do anything for us militarily. he was quite incensed about it. but it gives you a sense of the passion that are at play here. the birds at this point have been, you know, taken a pummeling pretty intensively in one form or another since 1940. ..
>> author and journalist shot charles bowden investigates the violence, intimidation and corruption. he says is responsible for a city once known as a map to success story becoming one of the most violent places in the world. from the los angeles public library this program is just over an hour. >> the bullfighter and the bull. >> i think you left a word off the work bowl. >> charles, for me after reading the book, to understand, i could
relate to the book. i grew up in tijuana, reported in san diego in tijuana, had a chance to follow some border patrol agents right there. they did a drug bust, actually that big bricks up, i don't know whether it ended up being marijuana are what, in the backseat, there were all kinds of stickers, evangelical christian stickers on the car. the way they found out, the tee up, what led them to inspect that car was the woman, the female driver, hurricanes or like pumping. so they stopped it. that was one of the stores i did. to understand is that i'm thinking to myself, because i'm in l.a. for a while, what if a lieutenant with the pasadena police department was gunned
down with his kid? whawhat if they hold division fm camp pendleton ended up working for the bloods and crips? what if an "l.a. times" reporter was unemployed because he wouldn't take money from the avenues gang? you know, to me that's what just change the agency name and that's what's happening in juarez. that's the world that they are living in. >> and increasingly much of mexico. it's systemic. americans, particularly american policymakers like to imagine we have to fix things by adjustment. we will send experts down like giuliani went down there, and they will get a few lectures on security and police, and then it's fine. it reminds me of a conversation, not in mexico but on iraq i had with senator john mccain in his office, in the summer of
2002. he said, chalk, look, we can change iraq into a parliamentary democracy in less than five years. and i leaned forward, i'm a friendly guy. instead will you share your drugs? and he sincerely believed it. because he thought these cultures were plastic. now have secretary hilton -- clinton and secretary no politology a whole plane full of people you pay for. flew to mexico city, and said we're going to help them with their justice system, as if they are ill literates and never read about other legal systems. this is preposterous. but the example you give is realistic. how would the people in this audience react if they lived in that reality? people could come up to me as a cops are corrupt and chicago.
i spent part of my childhood and adulthood there. it's true but it isn't like juarez. >> what are the things you do really well is to paint portraits of the people that you meet there. and that's who we meet along the way. i would like you to read the prologue which is a really good set up to this trip that you take. >> i always like a prologue that's a good set up. pass/fail. okay. here's the deal, we're going to take us a ride. be quiet. times up. you got a ride. brought the duct tape. do you prefer gray or tan put no matter, get your ass and. we have a plastic bag, loaded guns, have you been waiting? everyone is waiting. but our list is so long.
everybody pretends we will never come, but everyone is on somebody's list. well, for you the wait is over. let me tell you about the killings season. what? you don't like violence? i understand. but keep in the car. you say it's hard to see because of the dark tinted windows? you will learn darkness. of course, she takes the right. my god, it was a ride. yes, there is a matter of cocaine and whiskey and sandy. it might undercut understanding of the community. see those people industry pretending you don't exist? this big machine with tinted windows doesn't exist, pretending that none of this is happening to you? it was you until just a few minutes ago. now, 14 people were executed in
juarez yesterday. it is on the news here. they never existed, never happened. accept to them. there you go. i love crib sheets. thank you. >> charles, who is nancy? >> she was actually in my past, i have many paths. i covered village for three years. i quickly type in the third time it succeeded. i broke down, and you never use the name of victim of rape. but i know her name. she was actual. they grow beauty queens like trees, all the drug guys want a girlfriend to be a beauty queen because they have lots of contest, and guess who wins? she won a beauty contest, she was invited to a big private party in juarez. she flew in. she goes to the party and she's
raped for three days and three nights by the police. and she has scars on her breasts and everything. and she loses her mind. i think that's the reason she is alive, why she wasn't just killed, that insanity, you know, sort of spooky them. so they took her out to a place on the edge of the city, and in same asylum -- and insane asylum that he was a former drug addict in juarez, a large man. you lived on the streets. he heard the call to jesus. he moved out there and started building an asylum for people like himself. so he takes everyone in. he has 100, 120 people there. there's no water. there's not really electricity. there's no medicine. i donate money, and other people
do, defeat these people. these are people that will never come back. they are brains have been destroyed by glue, by beatings. there are go-go dancers and lap dancers better out of their skulls. there has scars of what people can do. >> what does the facility look like? >> it's a big wall thing. built by him, by hand. it's not like frank lloyd wright, you know? and he's got a knight in shining armor on it because that's his vision. and he's got sales for the really violent people which he is made out of rebar. he prays for me to save my soul, and is building a self for me, he tells me. because he says you will come you eventually. he takes care of her, and she slowly comes back. she falls in love with the crazy guy there. and thinks god has made, has let this happen to her so she can
meet this guy. that her family comes. they come and take her away. now, i use -- i don't really like and metaphors because you're going to remember the definition. they are not similar spell. i remember getting hit -- she becomes for me what the city does. people come there. the city for 40 years has recruited the poll to work in american factories, to have the american dream. and these people, most of them, have been destroyed since the early to mid '80s, the wages in the american made factories have been constant pesos and decline. and now juarez has lost 100,000 jobs because these greedy devils in these countries are getting paid four times what the chinese
pay, so 100,000 jobs went to china. forbes publishes. the problem with mexico is the wages are too high. the wages in juarez, in a factory if you get a job are $4575 a week. turnover is 200% a year. the cost of living is 90% of what it is in the u.s. do the math. you want the job? we can help. >> at one point you say that in talking about the murders of women, that there are more men killed than women. >> far more. look, this was like a sidetrack. i expect to be stoned. in one of my earlier lies i was dr. frankenstein. in order to draw attention to the city in 1995 or six, i wrote
a story about the treatment of women and their called while you were sleeping. it created a kind of odd academic cottage industry about them besides. now, i won't address that. it's also great 17 films. the murder rate of juarez, in war as of women is the same as in mexico. if you go basically anywhere in mexico is 10% of the homicides are female. it's gone down to 6% now. in juarez. there was a bump in the mid '90s of young girls working in the factories being kidnapped, raped and murdered. as you note in statistics there's always bumps. know what on earth has ever had the mean income in the city. that's the aggregate divided. and then it went away again. and this has become an issue
with a lot of feminist scholars. and they say two things. now they are saying 800 women were murdered since 93, which i believe is true. but they don't say is two-thirds of three quarters of them if you look at the statistical record were killed by husbands and lovers. >> are you saying that just focusing on that, it does a disservice to the entire -- >> there's 5000 dead people there, and they're focusing on a handful of homicides. there are people living in misery fully employed by american factories and they're looking at a handful of homicides. >> did you run into any of those activists while you're in juarez? >> one of the greatest activists died their christmas morning who was a friend of mine. i'm the guy did have a tree christmas day. i sat alone for today's. that woman credit the only shelter in juarez for women after for online that treats
30,000 women a year now who have been raped and beaten. i mean, good god, she's a saint to me. she was a friend. so the issue isn't that. the issue is what people should do is look at the city. there are 5000 dead there in less than three years. 95% are males took a bunch of children have been killed. in the last three years juarez is created 10,000 orphans. this city is dying. 10,000 businesses have closed. 40% of the businesses, 25% of the house have been abandoned, 30,000, 60,000 rich people have fled to el paso. there were 26 -- there were 2660 murders in 2009. they were 30 arrests, and i suppose to tell you why they have us all the murder of some women? they don't solve any murders. they don't solve the murders of children. they don't solve the murders of men. everybody dies and that's the
end of it. >> tell me about esther -- >> i'm done now. give me my meds. >> esther, how did she get to what she was doing out of shelters for battered women? what exactly was she doing? >> i love telling this story. esther chavez, about the same time i was reading the mexican newspapers there, she starts nosing these killings. one reason that sucker and i was it was new, factories are suddenly recruiting girls to the city, 15, 16, 17 year old girls. they are 500 miles from the family. they are walking home at 2 a.m. because the factories run three shifts a day, and they don't give you valet service to your hut. these women are getting back because do you seriously think it's 2 a.m. and you think i just want to be me what you're going to take a guy like me who is six for and someone who weighs 90 pounds, very like the?
they are easy prey. so i am clipping and she's clipping it. that's what i wrote a story. but unlike me, esther it's a scene. she moved there to take care for dying and. she was a retired account executive from kraft mexico. she liked to listen to classical music and she said i won't take this. so then she starts petitioning the city. she is putting up posters. she built across and hangs ribbons for each dead girl. then she thinks what people need our help, and when things are coming to her. the shelter is in some shack. she's got doctors and nurses. she travels all over the world giving speeches. she creates a the first care for battered women in northern mexico. period. the reason these people, missy was taken to the door is there is no other care. you know, there is no safety
net. esther created. and, frankly, i will interject my pitch for my book. one of my obsessions now that she is dead and created this one place is -- eye of the wind out the last year of her life and raise $150,000. it is called casa amiga. it has a website. casa amiga.com. if you want to bang for your buck, we all like that, this is worth it. direct help for helpless people. i will go back to pitching the book that. >> charles, what's it like to be a female police officer? >> it depends. there were complaints in early 2008. my friends photographed the stuff. tease out at night taking photos, and three city policemen have been kidnapped by the army and raped. that's part of the problem.
by may of 2008 there's a police demonstration. of course, they all wore masks to protect their identity, besieging the government to intercede so the army will stop kidnapping them and torture them. that's what it's like. there is no sin anymore to violence in juarez. there was a wonderful time went juarez cartel kind of ran the city. you can at least pick up a phone and say don't kill me. now there are 500, nine industry games. they have the mexican gangs. to have always police forces and there's nobody to call. >> there's another part i would like you to read and it's about one of those female police officers. -she's an administrative director. >> okay, god, i like this. where do i start?
she's 40 years old and probably worries about the coming years, taxing her face and her body. maybe she thinks a botox treatment, no matter now. she has full red lips, hair to her shoulders, a dark coat and a necklace claims at her throat. she is the administrative director of the juarez police department. she worked in the department from 2002-2005, left and then return in october 2007. technically her job put her in charge of human resources. she lives in a very nice neighborhood. and at about 10:23 p.m. on monday, june 16, she was murdered in front of her home, a sign up for the left with her corpse explained that she is it too many people associate with the head of the cartel. her name is sylvia. now she becomes a new woman. before her murder she was law
enforcement. by the standard of the city, innocent. but having been assassinated she now becomes dirty, someone who must have been connected to bad people doing bad things. the police department says she was doing an adequate job. and that is why they are surprised she has been slaughtered. juarez has these little ministries about the dead. given the standard that the dead are dirty and the living are innocent, clearly the heads of the major cartels in mexico are innocents. this massive drug war began on the behest of the president of mexico they have not had the hair on their heads touched it also, the killers moving around juarez with machine guns and big suvs have also suffered few, if any, deaths. so clearly they are also innocent. spirit my point of reference for the role of the media is the
newspaper. over a span of about 25, 30 years, wrote about drug trafficking, wrote about corruption in tijuana. >> took some bullets. >> took some bullets, survive. i think one of his bodyguards didn't. at the beginning of his career he had to go into san diego, publishes newspaper there because the city officials closed his printing operation. what's the role of newspapers and reporters in juarez? how many days, weekly, rated new stations? what are they reporting? >> there are three days, weekly, radio tv. what they're reporting is less and less. and i will tell you why. its dangers. they are doing far more than the american press. the american press basically reports juarez with binoculars. you know, from the u.s. side.
but the book is dedicated to a dead reporter. after he was killed, byline started disappearing over juarez. the publisher of the major juarez daily lives in el paso for his own security reasons. so what you have is a sub press. in laredo they don't report anything about cartels, prepared because somebody thoughtfully visited their newsroom, with machine guns and to integrate -- through in a grenade. they kill people all along the border. the mexican press has always had its problems but it's always been manipulated. it's always gotten brides for politicians not to cover thing, et cetera. but its coverage of this war is going to be the only significant coverage. >> and at some point --
>> a friend of mine and i have amassed four to 5000 articles from the mexican press archive about juarez since violence started. the reason we've done it, it disappeared under, we want to archive it in the united states is some data mexican people will have access to what happened to them. that's it. >> one of the clips you include in the appendix is, i don't know if it's a headline or a paragraph. it says that we have the nickname of the killer. we have the nickname. >> look, you have to understand the mexican justice system. there's an excellent documentary that was made by a mexican national at berkeley, two years ago. 93% of the people convicted of a felony never see a judge or an arrest warrant. they are convicted with no physical evidence. this is a processing factory.
you are tried in common and everything. sometimes you just told you have been convicted. you don't even go to court, et cetera, et cetera. this is not a justice system as people here have an expectation when you hear the phrase. this is a system to keep down the poor. >> does that go beyond that though? does some news reports that you read about in the book, some news reports actually have, coded messages to some of the cartel. >> it's like tea leaf reading. the mexican press, you know, it's knowing, years ago, the left of center and daily in mexico city would print stories the government bought with italics headlines. you know, that they would pay for probably again. yes.
they say armed commandos. today it means the military. that kind of thing. a friend of mine, now refugee in united states, a reporter of the mexican army desire to kill, don't have to elaborate codes but they weren't elaborate enough so they came to kill him seeking political asylum here. i am trying to us down is a little murky reading in the press, but it's far more revealing than the american press. the american press is still going to juarez after 5000 corpses, most of them poor people, and probably announcing its a cartel war. the american press is still saying after 23,000 mexicans have been slaughtered, less than 100 soldiers, that it's a cartel war. they just don't care if there's any dead cartel people. >> what your opinion of the reporters you did run, the u.s. reporters you did run into in
juarez and the work they were doing or the challenges are how prepared -- >> look, i'll be honest, kind of, i did run into them in juarez. they would come and visit me on this side. what i tried to do was give them my sources and tell them what i was seeing. i wanted to change the focus of the story. the one thing, i hate the phrase the war against drugs. there is nobody in this country that has missed their fix of drugs because of this war. i don't know a place where there's been an explosion in price because of this war. the drugs are arriving on time. the drugs are an enormous source of real money in mexico. i'll give you an example. i think in 2003 or four, the mexican army was down 4 billion. in 1995 the juarez cartel was learning -- earning 250 million a week, 12 billion a year.
mexico has depleting oil fields which the president says will run out in nine years. who knows? is 40% of the budget. the drug industry is earning 30 to 50 billion. that's probably as much as oil does. do you service they think there's an effort to shut down the drug industry? is like saying i have any, i'm going to get a chainsaw and cut my head off. this isn't going to happen. the united states knows this. the united states is financing a charade so you people are placated for dealing with the problem. it's a variation of the wall, dropping billions to build the wall as if we could actually wall out people. if you think it works, you should go study the mongol emperors in china. after the chinese build a wall, but i could go on and on. we have a policy that's not reality-based. we have lo t on drugs, and what defeated us was her own
people. there's a phrase politicians use, aperture, you know, somehow people come into your life, i know you all good people, and apparently they force feed you drugs like a goose for christmas. that's a bunch of bull should. when people in this country do is frantically drive into strange neighborhoods looking for drugs. there's no ad, no billboards out there on the freeway. you know, this is a market. you can repeal a market economy. >> in the book you make the distinction between clean, non-claim, honest and dishonest. >> the common thing people ask me, is the cop claimed, is the reporter cling? the society is essentially lubricated by transactions. the cops don't get paid enough not to take bribes. they would look like anorexics. what somebody like a clean cup is someone who doesn't bring you. that doesn't kill you, doesn't
situate. actually it's the same message i learned in chicago. i need. i had the privilege of being put in a cell when i was seven by the chicago police. i decided to learn how to play golf by using the windows in the public school as the hole-in-one. know, and the reporters, all of them get payments but they don't get enough money anyway. a lot of the money is if you don't report something. but that doesn't mean they are a bunch of crooks or something. they are in a system. that's the way the system works. in chicago when i was a kid if you need something done by your alderman, you did write him a letter. i had a friend raising a child, this was in the '70s and a problem and then across the street, and he said this is not a good environment. so he goes down to see the alternate ss look, i've got a
whorehouse across the street from where i am raising children. and alderman mel says i'll fix it. here's $500 for tickets to my spaghetti dinner. sell them. of course, you had to buy them first. >> you mentioned one of the honest -- >> what he -- >> could you read something that talks about a visit paid to him? >> here, let me see if i can -- there are so many words in this book i can't always find them. they are on every page spin that one after the other. >> which part would you like me to reach? okay. on january 29, 2005, 6 soldiers came to the hotel across the street, took food off people's plates and robbed the customers of their money and jewelry.
emilio gets calls and so he phoned the local police chief, and the manager of the hotel, called the army also, but as its custom the army refused to answer any questions to the press. any filed a brief article about the incident, one of three he wrote in that period of similar actions of the army in the area. that is how he destroyed his life. later on the night of figure eight of the same year, colonel martinez called him at home and explained that he is the boss and orders him to come immediately to the hotel miami in downtown. emilio explains that he's getting ready for bed, and some other time would would be better. the colonel says, if you don't come we will come looking for you at home, or wherever you are. so emilio puts us in 12 year-old son in his truck and goes there. he notices 50 soldiers in a four block area around the hotel, and
two vans full of bodyguards for the officers. he leaves his son in the truck and walks up to the officer. it's a very cold night. in his mind he's thinking, what the farc are they up to? soldiers suddenly surround him. using front of the hotel miami but he is in solitary confinement. the colonel says to another officer, look general, the son of a whore has written all kinds of stupidities has arrived. the general, garcia, says so you are the son of the whore who is slowly lowering our prestige. you son of a [bleep] or did you are denigrating us. and my boss, the minister in mexico city is extremely bothered by your lies, idiot. emilio feels very small. he cannot think of a way to escape.
he tries to form words to excuse himself, but he can't. the general is in charge of all that counted he is sure. is a uniform is brilliant with gold trim. emilio is very frightened. he says that he only runs what the officials of the victims tell him. the general says, no. you have those sources for that information. you made it up. just how much schooling do you have, asphalt? community allies, claims two years into mutation study in the university. the general explains that emilio lacks an education able to assume. to have a general spee-2 is not something to be desired. they can hand out death like a party there. the general suggests that he should write about drug people. emilio says he does not know any, besides they frighten him. so you don't know them and you fear them, the general bristles?
you should fear us. we [bleep] the [bleep] you son of a whore. i feel like putting you in the van, taking into the mountains so you can see how we [bleep] over drug traffickers, [bleep]. here's the point. you're going to say that this guy is on an honest reporter, there isn't anybody in the american press dealing with it. it and the american press. i don't have a right to judge this guy. what he does to survive he just stops writing anything except stories about the estes and all saints day or something. because he wants to live to raise his son. >> what ends up happening to him? >> well, they come back. for three years he writes nothing. than the president of mexico says we have to have a surge. you're familiar with that term. floods the zone with even more army.
emilio notices his house is being watched. but at first he thinks they are not really watching my house. next-door is a grocery store where they sell cocaine and that's why the soldiers are here because they are always going in and buying cocaine. then later that day he gets a tip from an old girlfriend. she says look, i'm involved with some of the soldiers and they're going to kill you. you have to leave. and that's when he gets in his car and he drives to the u.s. border with his son, and he goes to new mexico which is a legal port of entry. unlike everyone else coming across the border, the border customs, ice, homeland security said what do you bring ?-que?-quex and emilio says we bring fear. so they throw him in prison they throw his son in prison for two months. because they say you could be a menace to our community.
and if he gives political asylum he will be the first report in history of the country to get political asylum in this country, because that would be an admission of the mexican government isn't exactly like ours, that all that happened. you know, and he has an excellent lawyer. is? comes of january 2011. and the reason he came and said we bring fear is he spent the night before he left on a little computer researching our human rights treaties. and he thought under this treaty, he thought this country will protect me. he did know how to read between the lines in our writings. >> you spend a lot of time talking about truth. there's a place called shadowland, which is, you know, this an occasional glimpse of
truth where people start talking about truth, and then they step back. for me i suppose this is a particular mexican culture but will have stored in a failed -- families come and the adults are talking about the truth when your present and then they don't, and your appetite is weighted. you want to know what the truth is but you don't hear about that. that child out of wedlock. you hear about my particular family, one of my uncles just found out about four or five years ago that the mother that race and wasn't really his mother. his mother died and his mother's sister racing. you talk about the nature of truth at what is shadowland speakers argued a perfect example since i only do perfect things. when emilio is 10 years old,
there's a real pretty girl in the school. she's called the little devil. she's about 13. and you know, he is younger but all the kids, you know, she's the beautiful young girl. and the army is in town. and they find her body on the edge of town, naked, covered with mud. dead. and they bring the car into the town and he is going to school and he walks by with the other kids, another classmate, dead, raped. and everybody in that town, every child, every adult, and no one says it out loud. that's his first lesson. his parents talk politics but nobody really says out loud what everybody in that school was
basically witnessed, and the police do nothing. and that's the kind of reality you live with. it's similar to when you read accounts of the soviet union where you know things but don't know them. you keep them in some sort of a suspended state, because actually grasping them and saying the truth upsets your world and put you in danger. >> what do the mexican reporters think about american reporters who come looking for the documents and look for the facts and look for confirmation? >> they think they are fools. they think they are idiots. i'm an american reporter. i have had this carefully explain to me, shocked. what they think is an american reporters come there with assumptions and don't want to know how mexico really does. what they think is they treat them like children, tell them what they want to hear. but they don't really tell them what they are thinking. what they think is there
deliberately naïve. what they think is apparently american reporters, the mexican army fighting the cartel and 20,000 dead mexicans and 100 dead soldiers and not question it. what they think is the mexican reporters can report the press and you can check those, how the war on drugs in mexico is disturbing the cartel's, rattling their operation, costing them money. i never had energy to walk out of a news office and asked the junkie how the prices are and the availability in your town. what they think is their gutless idiot figure slowly convincing me. >> you must drive the fact checking department at the publisher crazy. >> i encourage them to use drugs in my books. look, there are hard facts. i'll give you an example. i said that 2753 people who were
killed in the city of juarez in 2009. that's from the chihuahua in government. there is no record of the people that disappeared which were hundreds, and most of the people that disappear never come back. they are just slaughtered. we don't know the dead. the army periodically goes all we found a secret burial ground. you know, we don't know if the army buried the people. one of the characters in the book as a professional killer. he was trained, hired by the cartel, which is a pleased academy, became the command of the anti-kidnapping unit in juarez. and, of course, his business was kidnapping people and killing them and collecting ransom. he had like a 20 year run. i mean, this is a strange kind of reality.
mexicans know it, they have a hard time acknowledging it. i had a friend there who was raised in a very rough part, it was all heroine. he came up straight. this happens. he had cameras are my friend who photographed, took all these pictures. and one day he comes home and he lives like, you know, under lock and key. he normally keeps 150-pound dog around that doesn't like human beings. and all these cameras were stolen. this is terrible. i don't have any money. so he goes to the police. my cameras are stolen. and they say, well, he will have to give us $500 to get them back. and he suddenly comes to a sense is that no one can steal the cameras without working with the police. he slipped into this delusional state where he thinks he lives in the city where there are real
police, and then he just goes on. it's hopeless. now, people flip and. i'll give you an example from my own. i never believed in the war in iraq, but in the ramp up even though i was reading affliction and all these reports from the u.n. inspectors, i couldn't wrap my head around the fact that all the major newspapers said there were weapons of mass distracti distraction. the entire government said there were weapons of mass destruction. i didn't believe my government, but in some part of my mind thought how could all these people be saying that. it into the same state my friend did when he went to the police. i'm slowly being cured of. what bothered me about the war on drugs was covered in mexico and in this country, is it is not fact-based. i don't know what's going on
until -- i don't know what's going on. i will tell one more story, this tiny one. in the spring of 2008, the juarez businessman was murdered. he left two stepchildren, 16 and 17. on april 14, the family then sort of moved to el paso. it's not a bad sign. on april 14, the daughter, step daughter drove over to juarez to see the grandmother who was staying. she disappeared. on april 20, her brother, who is when you're older, went over to juarez to try to find her. he was machine-gunned, and then they found her body on the outside of the city. now, i can explain those three murders, nor would anyone, that's what happens. they will never be investigated, except in a sham way.
an entire family has been slaughtered. the only thing i know is there's a reason for all three deaths. but you can't say the cartel did it. you can't say the police did it. you can't say the army did it. a lot of people could have killed them. it was a you can say with certainty is whoever killed him is never going to be brought to justice. >> before we moved to the q&a, in the book you talk about death as being the only hard fact, and the killings are committed by the hitmen. >> some of them. >> you sit down with one of them. how did that happen? >> i called in a big favor. i have been going in and out of the city. i'm having a drink with this guy i have known very well. i have done favors for him. he tells me he is sheltering a
contract killer and this guy has killed five, 600 people. there's a quarter million dollars contract on this guys head. and i said, i want a favor. i want to talk to him. i won't reveal his name. but i've been around these guys for 20 years, often on, and i finally what one of them to talk to me and tell me who the hell they are and what they are doing and why. that's the deal. and i will protect his identity, you know. i will never reveal it. and so that's why the guy talks to me because he's order to. the guy who is sheltering him for contract killers were looking for him. this is not abstract. he had two problems. the war is cartel have a quarter million dollar contract, anyone who kills and its 250,000. at the same time to ciudad cartels try to find a because they want to hire him to kill the juarez cartel.
so yes lots of people who want to meet him. so we talked initially for two days. look, this is been going on for a year basically. and he told me everything. meaning once he started talking he couldn't stop because, if your business is killing people and torturing people and cutting them up, you don't get to give a lot of speeches. you don't talk to your wife about it. and so he talked. i wrote it down and i put it in the book, and that's why. i wanted an explanation. the interesting thing was after i did that i'd get these angry e-mails from friends. i published a small version of his life in harper's magazine. how could i talk to him? i don't understand. it was 1944 and i had a chance to sit down with hitler i would. who are you and why is she doing
this? so i did. maybe i'm -- well, i'm told i am straight. i will be normal someday to all of you will be like me. i will be the norm. >> do we have time for one more reading? yes. now, this one begins, she sits on the piano bench. so can you set that up? >> i don't remember the book. that's why i voted. >> right before this it seems like -- >> this was a happy thing. it that we're going to have -- i don't think i kill anybody here. >> we want to leave on a high note. >> i'm not perfect spirit right before this it seems like they got to you. it seems like it's overwhelming you. you come to document the day did you have a really nice coat at the beginning of the book about -- quote at the beginning of the book, something to the effect of
he may not have been an important first but we must note his death. that's what it seems like -- >> attention must be paid in the speech when he dies. you can't pretend he is a dog. i read that when i speaking, never forgot it. >> that's what you're trying to do in your book. >> that's why i wrote the book. i wasn't trying to solve a murder. by the time just thinking that there are 5000 dead people, and i didn't plan to write the book. i thought there has to be some record of this of some kind. you can't just pretend i would rather watch tv. but they are human beings. >> and that's what you said can you were not there to solve crimes. >> i told him i would never judge them or defend them. i would try to explain him. when we finish all this time he wanted me to pray with him.
i'm serious. we embraced and prayed. but he told me an interesting thing. he says i'm reading a bible now. and the bible says that if you accept christ, you can be forgiven for all your sins. and he says i don't think that's possible in my case. you know, he's a very intelligent, honest person. you know, i'm not saying, you know, that is looking for your forgiveness. but he doesn't think he can be forgiven for what he has done. i told him i didn't know. you know, that's -- i told him i didn't know, you know. okay. >> who is the she in this passage? >> well, actually i had to give a speech in a distant city when
i fled juarez, you know, kind of detox. and i ran into this woman there. i was at a big banquet, we were having dinner. and she knew how to play rhapsody, and i think rhapsody in blue is one of the greatest moments in history of our country, george bush wins composition. and so i said, there's a big private gathering, so there was a grand piano in this room and the moon is pouring through. and so she sat down at the piano. she sits on the piano bench. her black hair clean and shiny. she bends over the keys. the moon is full and rides the sky hunting for more bodies. two days ago they killed seven. yesterday in the afternoon sometime in october 6 went down. or was it seven? it is getting very hard to keep
track of the daily or monthly can't. even a grand total for the year it seems like a smear of blood on the wall. no matter how hard i worked at my job, i fall behind if i write down numbers in my black notebook, take a sip of coffee, and before i return, the number is gone. juarez, even now as i sit in the room, wine in hand, moonlight playing off the walls, yes, at this very moment juarez maraud through my mind. corpses, bullets, knives, severed heads, i'll a manner of carnival moments, a parade from lively health, shapeless, formless, and often meaningless. she seems forward, flicking her
fingers on the white keys as the rhapsody tom so much energy into the room. so i sit, a glass of wine in hand, as she strokes the keyboards, please rhapsody in blue. the opening is bold. the bellowing of a young, she stumbles on parts. she apologizes. but there is no need for such comments. her playing is beautiful. with her black hair and fair skin blowing in the moonlight, washing over the darkroom your the moon walks through the window and plays on the white wall. it's my therapy moment. [applause] >> thank you. you'll be happy to know i am also a devout birdwatcher.
[laughter] i've never seen a flickr. >> with that, thanks, charles, for joining us. there's microphones out there, so please brazier hand and wait until the microphone gets to you. [inaudible] >> okay. so this man here in the black and white shirt. if you could say your name and what your question is. >> the question to mr. bowden. >> or chuck. >> what is your strategy for staying alive to report always thinks? >> say it again. >> what is your strategy of staying alive to report all these thinks? >> i'm a coward. that's my strategy. look, i report these things because i believe it's my duty can't it's my job, even though nobody employs me. but my strategy is to be a coward.
if i sense something is off highly. drug dealers taught me a bible lesson years ago. you can never be burned by a deal you don't do. you know, that you back out of. so i plunge and the retreat. i get frightened, you know. brief reporters get killed. >> do you drink with some of your sources of? >> kind of. doing this book was the only time i've ever relaxed and juarez. and i'll tell you why. for years i have done stories there. i get reports from dea that says there's a contract on me or something. i sort of watch my back. i shift hotels. i wouldn't tell anybody where i was. i would suddenly appear, disappear. this violence is so general it's relaxing. it doesn't matter who you are, where you are, what class you are, what you do. you can just go like that.
there's no pattern to it. it's like living through a meteor shower. so for the first time i would just sit there and have a beer, because there's nobody to protect myself. i know this sounds bizarre, but i just kick back, you know. the other thing is i'm delusional, as many of you may have sensed. when i start something like this i don't think if i can find a publisher, to hell with them. i don't give a damn about editors. i think the reasons i can't explain to him on a dozen. -- i'm on a mission. i was convinced with what was going on, there was a cartel board. it was many things, but the real thing it was a breakdown of the city of poverty. that i was going to create a record, and in an odd way i couldn't be done and i finished it. then i could be hit i a machine gun or a meteor. so i just became obsessed, it's that simple do.
there's absolutely no factual basis for this evening i had. you know, what i believe, and by god, i done physical things. if you finish a marathon, you will yourself. if you finish it. and so i was in that same state. turns out even a fool can be right. invite him. >> let's get another question in. the lady here. >> thank you. i have the book. i haven't read it yet. i just finished teaching part of darkness and i just can't help but think about the man who goes in to the jungle and has these -- and icu, he stepped over the edge budget come back to tell it all. and i guess, i guess my question is, will you go back? what is your strategies for your
telling this, and what now i guess would be my question of? >> i don't know. look, i've been trying never to go back to juarez 14 years. i spent seven and a half years writing a book called "down by the river" on the interior of the drug world and juarez and other places. i thought i'd are going to do with this again. i'm tired of dead people. i'm tired of misery. i'm tired of this. and then things happen, like this thing. i'm sitting having coffee and tucson, arizona. they shoot for commandant days in about a 30 hour period. i am with odeo, my friend from juarez. and its agenda 20th, 2008, and we both get and our gear -- out of archer, go to my truck, detain and try to juarez because we knew something was going on we didn't understand. i don't know what was. but that's what i do. now, i'm in deep 12 step now.
i have 300 pages into a book about the lower mississippi delta. i thought this is as far from juarez as i can get. i'm trying, but i can't promise anything, because i think some things have to be written down. you know? and if somebody else has written a book i wrote, or something like it, i wouldn't have written it but as i try to suggest earlier, and i don't want to sound egotistical or significa significant, imagine i can handle, i was raised in a way that both my parents are dead, my father long dead, and i thought if i don't do this i can't face them, you know? i can't explain, i'm not a religious person or spiritual person in that sense. i just thought i'm not going to be able to live wi