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The black dog of Lourdes

Lourdes Maldonado's dog, in a photograph by journalist Yolanda Morales.

The human condition is something as twisted as it is mysterious, and Tijuana is its capital. The State had promised Lourdes Maldonado protection. She said that she feared for her life and they assured her that she would have police at her door, cameras or a panic button in case of imminent danger… But none of that came and a guy came up and shot her in the head where she was. now he is Chato lying down.

The cinnamon-colored dog has been motionless for 24 hours by the door of the house. In front of the animal, the street is a coming and going of journalists, coroners, authorities, investigators and police until someone notices the sad dog on the other side of the yellow tape and takes a photo that ends up breaking everyone.

With his head sunk between his legs, he spent night and day immobile and without eating, watching over his owner under the lintel. Chato accompanied Lourdes and three other cats since a few years ago the journalist picked him up from the street and adopted him . Chato had a past in which he was fierce, then he became a beaten warrior and ended up being a song by José Alfredo : “A dog was lying there, without eating and without sleeping / He wanted to look at his owner, he didn't care about living / That's how the black dog died. That enormous guardian / Who loved Gilberto very much and killed Don Julián”.

The fact is that, The next day, at their press conferences, none of those who had pledged to monitor, investigate, and protect the journalist, in short, to do their job, and had failed in their task, showed any regret. Only Chato was the only one down. His eyes were two sad stripes that had not been able to fulfill the task of protecting her and at the door of the house the animal seemed the most human of all.

During the entire month of January, with macabre punctuality, five people were murdered every day in a city of about two million people. So on Monday Tijuana continued its course. Cars frantically crossed the border again, the outdated souvenir shops on Revolution Street opened their doors, Haitian couples struggled against the cold on street corners, and Tijuana's vibrant bilingual youth returned to the universities as normal as any Monday.

The profession woke up shattered. In a place like Tijuana, the profession is a small group where everyone knows each other and who have to attend for the second time in a week to a colleague's funeral. Companions of chacaleos, coverage, canteens, press conferences and hours of waiting in front of the Prosecutor's Office who cried yesterday in the newsroom or at home remembering that just a few days ago, Lourdes took the microphone to talk about the photographer Margarito Martínez during his vigil. There he said of him that “he is a young man who wins the raffle and is always the first to arrive. Well, excuse me…”, he corrected, “it was a young man who raffled it off… I'm still not used to speaking in the past tense,” he said. In the Plaza de Las Tijeras, he asked for speed in the investigation and the creation of an award in his honor with his name to recognize the best photographer of the year. A few days after that they went for her without much logistical sophistication. If the murder of the photographer caused outrage, the one in Lourdes leaves a deep sense of loneliness.

Between so much decomposition, the first drop of life came at nightfall. When journalists, coroners, authorities, investigators and police officers had left the place, a girl in pajamas subtly approached the yellow tape that cordoned off the house. The girl walked, crouched down gently and whispered to the cats to let them know that she had arrived with food. On the other side of the yellow line, he left another plate for Chato that he never touched. The next day, her neighbor Xiomara came to take the cats and another one to convince Chato that they had to eat and walk for a while. Thus, little by little, signs of affection began to flourish near the door where before there was a wasteland. Lourdes's relatives had not yet come to recognize the body, but her family was already being cared for.

A girl in pajamas came subtly to the house to feed the cats of the journalistLourdes Maldonado.Omar Martínez/Cuartoscuro

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