January 6, 2006

Guillermo’s dream ended with a bullet from Border Patrol

By Pablo Jaime Sainz

One of Guillermo Martínez Rodríguez’s resolutions for the New Year was to make it across the border into the United Stated.

Unfortunately, Guillermo couldn’t even end 2005 alive.

He died on Saturday December 31, around 12:00 p.m. at the Tijuana Red Cross, about 16 hours after being shot by a Boder Patrol agent.

So, Guillermo’s dreams, ended with 2005.

He was 18.

According to an investigation by the San Diego Police Department, the events happened like this:

The shooting took place around 7:25 p.m. on Friday December 30 in the area between the two border fences, about half a mile east of the San Ysidro Port of Entry, near Tijuana’s Colonia Libertad, reads the press release by Homicide Lt. Kevin Rooney.

The agent was checking a report of an undocumented immigrant trying to cross the border in that area. When the agent arrived there, he saw the man with a ladder. The agent then ran towards him and saw that the man headed south and had picked up several rocks, said the press release.

When the agent tried to pull his gun, the man made the movements as if throwing the object towards the agent. The agent shot the man, who grabbed his arm and ran towards Mexico.

Guillermo, who was trying to cross the border with his brother, was taken to Tijuana’s Red Cross, where doctors weren’t able to save his life. He died the following day, the last day of the year, the last day in his life.

Guillermo’s death has caused great outrage among Mexican officials.

The Consulate of Mexico in San Diego has asked for an investigation to be done by the Police Department as well by the Department of Justice.

“We are deeply sorry for the death of our fellow countryman, and we condemn the use of violence in these type of situations, we would like to make it clear that we will do anything in our hands to protect Mexicans and for this matter to come clear,” said at a news conference Luis Cabrera, consul general of Mexico in San Diego.

“[The immigration phenomenon] will not be resolved by armed agents nor by the use of force. Both countries want a safer and secured border, and we won’t be able to accomplish this by the use of force,” he said.

President Vicente Fox, through his spokesperson, Ruben Aguilar, condemned the event and lamented Guillermo’s death.

“This event makes it clear that only a law, that guarantees the legal and orderly entrance and which has respect for human rights, will resolve the immigration problem that’s so important for both countries”, he said.

What’s worst is that an investigation by the Procuraduria General del Estado de Baja California found out that Guillermo was shot from the back and at a distance no more than 5 meters away with a 9 mm gun.

Raul Martinez, Border Patrol spokesperson in San Diego, said that the agent felt threatened by the immigrant, who threw several rocks at the agent.

“He feared for his life,” he said.

Martínez added that in the last months, attacks against Border Patrol agents have increased. People on the Mexican side throw bottles, sticks, rocks, and other objects that can harm or even kill Border Patrol agents, he said.

Meanwhile, Guillermo’s family, who are originally from the state of Jalisco but who live in Tijuana, regret what happened.

“Guillermo used to work at a car wash, he was the youngest of 8 brothers and he was a good, responsible person. He was also a good father and no one had the right to take his life,” said Rosa Araceli Martinez, Guillermo’s sister.

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