by Juan Pérez
Translated by Patrice Gormand

Editor’s note: Juan Pérez is a pseudonym for one of the sixteen spinal cord young adults who currently form an important part of the PROJIMO community.

I am going to tell you the story of my life. When I was five years old, my mother died. From then on, my father took charge of our family and life went on. But when I was ten, my father died. That’s when I lost the rudder to my life. I suffered until I was thirteen years old. Then my life changed. I became friends with a man who offered to help me. He was the answer to my dreams because I was so tired of living in poverty, so tired of suffering. I thanked God for the opportunity to end my misery.

The first thing my friend did was to put me to the test. He gave me a ‘package that weighed three and a half kilograms. He also gave me a .45 revolver. He warned me that in no case was I to lose the package; that my future depended on getting it to Mexicali. The package reached its destination, and when I returned, my friend was waiting for me. Not until then did I realize that the package I had delivered contained cocaine. “You’ve passed the test,” my friend told me. “Do you want to keep working for me?” I told him I did, and he gave me some money. I felt I wouldn’t have to suffer so much anymore.

My second job-was to transport half a ton of marijuana to Nogales. This job changed my life completely, since the marijuana also made it to its destination. I was happy because life was smiling on me. I had everything I wanted.

I continued trafficking drugs for three years. Then one day my friend was killed by the federal police. I had learned enough about the business by then, so I decided to strike out on my own. My fortune began growing.

On a trip to Hermosillo, I met a young woman whom I liked a lot. I won her affections by showering her with expensive gifts. We went out for five months and then we got married. We were a very happy couple, but when our first child was born, we started having problems. I decided to get my wife a maid so that we could keep having fun. Soon after that my wife got pregnant again.

Two months later I was caught in Guadalajara with two kilos of cocaine on me. It was so hard for me to think that I might lose everything I had. I felt like the most miserable man in the world, fearing that I’d never see my wife and kids again. I was finally able to buy my way out of jail, but then I heard that my wife was cheating on me. I decided not to act without proof, but one day I found her with her lover. I was all set to kill them. Only the thought of my children stopped me. What would become of them if they ended up as orphans, as I had? I left my wife and I allowed my children to go with her. I felt it was the best thing for them despite all the pain it caused me.

I decided to keep working. I lived surrounded by drugs and let them take over my life. I continued like this until I met my second wife. Now she was a real wife. We had a beautiful daughter together and I discovered a happiness I had never felt before. I retired from the business and became a rancher. And yet I felt I was doomed because I had so many enemies. I had no fear of dying; my only concern was for my daughter. I wanted to make sure that, if I were killed, she would still be taken care of and would never suffer.

When my daughter turned two years old, I decided to throw her a party, never imagining that it could be dangerous. I had her in my arms when a pickup arrived and several men started shooting at us. The first shots hit my wife and killed her instantly; then they hit me. With seven bullets inside me, I watched them kill my daughter. I pulled out my own gun and began shooting back. I managed to hit the pickups gas tank, making it explode. I had killed my wife’s and daughter’s assassins. Then everything went blank. (Editor’s note: One of the bullets passed through Juan’s spine, paralyzing his lower body.)

When I regained consciousness three days later, I couldn’t remember what had happened. I thought my wife and daughter were there, but only my brothers’ eyes gazed down at me. When I asked them where my family was, they began to cry. I told them not to worry about me, that I felt fine, even though I didn’t—I just wanted to see my family. Finally, my oldest brother told me I must resign myself to the fact that my wife and daughter had died. I began to remember what had happened. I felt miserable. I cried. I felt guilty. Why did they have to die when they were not to blame for anything, while I, who was to blame, was still alive? I thought of killing myself, but realized that I wouldn’t gain anything.

Instead, I told my brother that I wanted to get even with the man who had ordered me killed. My brother offered me his help, so I asked him to find a few men willing to do the job. He found four of them. They asked me how much I was willing to pay them. I felt such rage that I asked them to set the price. They did—at 30 million pesos. I agreed, with one condition: that I would be able to watch the man die. I wanted to see him suffer the same as I was suffering.

After two months, they found the coward and brought him to me. When I realized that he too had children, I ordered my men to bring me his wife and three kids. My anger was so great that I intended to kill them all. And yet, when they came before me, I realized I couldn’t harm them. The man told me he had ordered me killed, not my family. I asked my men to take away the woman, who with tears in her eyes was telling me that she and her children were not guilty of anything and that I should forgive them. She said that her husband alone should pay for his crime. I finally told her to go away and take her children with her. She thanked me and left.

I told my men to kill my enemy bit by bit: to first pull out his nails, then cut off his hands and feet. The man pleaded and leaded for mercy, but I enjoyed watching him suffer. As I took revenge on the man who had caused the death of my loved ones, I began to feel at peace.

After the man died, I felt there was no reason to go on living. I thought of killing myself, but I was never left alone. My brothers were always beside me, sharing in my suffering. I asked them to help me find a way to walk again. We went to many different places and saw many doctors. My fortune was almost gone when I finally realized it was all hopeless. All the doctors wanted was to make money. So I told my brothers we should just return home. I spent months alone just lying around at home, thinking about the past. One day, however, my brothers brought me news about a program for disabled persons called PROJIMO, in Ajoya They offered to take me there, and having nothing more to lose, I agreed to spend some time there.

As the days and months went by, I felt myself making progress. Now I am happy because I don’t have problems. I’ve retired from the business and spend my time volunteering at PROJIMO. I feel happy because, even though I’m paraplegic, I can live in peace. [Editor’s note: “Juan” became one of the leaders of the volunteer group.]

I would like for people to think about my experiences. The type of life I was leading is dangerous; often innocent people pay for one’s mistakes. It’s as if one killed them oneself. It’s a terrible experience to go through such a painful period, but some of these things are just destined to happen. I hope that you understand and never do what I did. It’s nice to have money, but the kind of money I had is a man’s ruin. People lose their lives for it, they are jailed for it, they lose their loved ones for it.

This is the end of the life story of a man who still regrets his bad fortune.