Category Archives: coahuila

Tales from the Narcozone: Rubén Moreira Wants to Govern Me (Carlos Velázquez, GATOPARDO)

Enrique Peña Nieto on the campaign trail in the 2012 presidential elections. On the right, Rubén Moreira. They are wearing Santos football jerseys. (Photo credit, La Jornada).

Enrique Peña Nieto on the campaign trail in Coahuila in the 2012 presidential elections. On the right, Coahuila’s now governor Rubén Moreira. The politicians are wearing Santos football jerseys. (Photo credit, La Jornada).

This post, from the blog, Peligroso Pop, appeared in Gatopardo on 24 January 2013. It has been translated without permission for the Mexican Journalism Translation Project (MxJTP).

Rubén Moreira Wants to Govern Me
By Carlos Velázquez (GATOPARDO)


Coahuila is living through an unprecedented governability crisis. Torreón, the state’s second most important municipality, has become a paradise for criminality. TV anchor Carlos Loret de Mola has even come up here to snap souvenir photos. And Saltillo, the state capital, also lives through rough waves of violence.

Politics in the state of Coahuila looks more and more like the television series The Tudors: intrigue, betrayal, duelling brothers, sickness, intrafamily violence. Lucero Davis, the widow of José Eduardo Moreira Rodríguez blames Coahuila’s current governor for her husband’s death (translator’s note: the late José Eduardo Moreira was the son of former governor Humberto Moreira, and nephew of current governor, Rubén Moreira); Humberto Moreira has gone from being governor to the PRI’s national president to a jam maker to a scholarship recipient in Spain; there are rumors the belittled governor will exit, to be replaced by Jericho; then there are Humberto’s complaints about Felipe Calderón to The Hague in December 2012; an outstanding warrant for the arrest of Javier Villareal, former head of the Tax Administration System (Sistema de Administración Tributaria), who gave flight and who nobody bothers to mention; the damned state debt, etc. And all of this in only two seasons: rather, I mean two of Moreira’s gubernatorial terms. Oh, Coahuila, where is it all going to end?

From the above, and a lot more besides, everybody, absolutely everybody from Coahuila wants to send the governor over to Hong Kong for cigarettes. We’re fed up to the back teeth with the drama that we have to suffer because of the Moreira clan. Sick of the violence that outdoes any Hollywood blockbuster, exceeds that of the warrior in almost any war. Torreón: “The most violent city of the last presidential term,” is the epitome that rules us. I hasten to add the city was violent throughout the old presidential term and through the beginning of the new term. We know what to expect when the city gets scolded. Submission. That’s what happened to Miguel Ángel a fourteen-year old youth who interrupted Rubén Moreira on the campaign trail with a question in Technical School no. 83 and was forced to fall into line by the guv’nah’s bodyguard.

When 158 police officers from Gómez Palacio and Lerdo were fired, including public safety chiefs, the security crisis worsened so much that in Coahuila’s Laguna, as well as Torreón, everywhere became a paradise of hurt. Bank stick-ups, robberies in mobile phone stores, payday lenders, restaurants where thieves took wallets, phones and jewelry. Carjackings, robbing passers by, kidnappings, extortion, a population brought down by panic, ejecting itself out the window. It has all made Coahuila sing: “No, no, no. Rubén Moreira, oh no, no, no. Why oh why? Ruben Moreira wants to govern me.”  But, really, the state just doesn’t agree with the State.

People from Coahuila conjure up an image, just like in that commercial for the Cheyenne pick-up truck: Humberto Moreira looks out at Coahuila and says to Rubén Moreira: “Brother, some day all of this will be yours.” But hey, what about governability? Or the figure of the governor? People are infuriated because in the recent killings in the Tornado bar, the guv’nah hasn’t said a word. Not even a “my deepest condolences” to the state’s residents. Torreon has taken the biggest beating in the state, but Saltillo, Acuña and Piedras Negras are also living through violent streaks. The guv’nah should speak or say something. That way we won’t be able to call him “he who needs to mourn.”

We have – just like in the Elvis song – a “suspicious mind.” Nobody believes it a coincidence that the Hidalgo-born Zetas’ leader “El Lazca” holed up in Coahuila before he was killed. The ties between the state of Coahuila and Hidalgo are often misunderstood. Rubén Moreira’s wife, Carolina Viggiano, was born in Tepehuacán de Guerrero, a town in Hidalgo State. I am not getting this wrong. On the contrary, I think there’s just too much of a coincidence. The disappearance of “El Lazca’s” body was just like that — too much of a coincidence. We’re tougher than The Walking Dead. In the television series, the dead return as zombies. But Heriberto Lazcano’s corpse (“El Lazca”) just disappeared into thin air. That set off a myth. He’s become immortal: like Elvis, Pedro Infante, and the “Lord of the Heavens.” Maybe “El Lazca’s” still alive and on some beach in the Bahamas.

One day, if I ever decide to start a rock group, I am going to call it The Dead Miners, honoring the fallen in Pasta de Conchos, Múzquiz, Sabinas, and Progreso. That last place is where “El Lazca” was brought down and, according to Humberto Moreira his nickname was “Mr. Miner.” He owned two coal pits. Coahuila is a pigsty. If the state hits rock bottom one day, if one day this state wants to pick itself up again and dust itself off, nobody is going to know where to put the detritus. Decimated, broken, and violated: that’s how people in Coahuila currently see themselves.

Torreón, the birthplace of the narco revolution, is no longer the exclusive battleground between “El Chapo” and the Zetas – different cartels camp out here: the Knights Templar, the Cabreras. Mostly anybody with the balls to arm a cell just has to go into the street to attract members. And they don’t need to be in the drug business. It looks like they’ve already announced the world is going to end because Torreón is already being pillaged. They won’t leave anything for the cockroaches. Shuttered bars, closed casinos, banned cockfights, everything with the kiss of death: an invitation to flee. The first to go, the most intelligent ones to leave, are the prostitutes since there’s no longer any business for them in the city. So they migrate. Jumping like rats from a sinking ship.

According to journalist and commentator Isabel Arvide, Rubén Moreira handed the state over to the Zetas. It’s a shame that he can’t ask them to return it since, as the saying goes, it’s been a costly deal with the devil. Everyone hopes the state debt can be repaid over twenty years. Let’s just hope those are people years and not dog years. The guv’nah says the state’s debt problem has been solved. I suppose he’s referring to the media fallout. What a relief, though. We all thought the media would keep harping on about unfinished business. At least now we can get some sleep.

With so much chaos, it’s good to bear in mind two pretty postcards as souvenirs from Coahuila:

1) That image of Rubén Moreira and Enrique Peña Nieto wearing Santos soccer jerseys. The question is: one day, will they really wear the shirt? Or maybe it was just to snatch some empathy since they were both campaigning for office.

2) The song swirling through the heads of people from Coahuila: “Baby, baby, what ya gonna do when you’re guvn’ah.”

Rubén Moreira wants to govern us, and we are going to follow him.

Writer Carlos Velázquez (1978, Torreón) is a prize-winning Mexican author with several books to his credit. His most recent book — a tour de force of reportage — is El Karma de Vivir al Norte (Sexto Piso, 2013). This post first appeared under the title “R. Moreira me quiere gobernar,” available at:


Translator Patrick Timmons is a human rights investigator and journalist. He edits the Mexican Journalism Translation Project (MxJTP), a quality selection of Spanish-language journalism about Latin America rendered into English. Follow him on Twitter @patricktimmons.

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