I have told you before that guns are a prominent part of life in Olancho, but until recently it never seemed to be a problem. When you walk around town, it is not uncommon for most of the citizens of San Francisco over the age of 20 to have a holstered pistol or one tucked casually in their waste-band. Randomly, you may see a group of guys on a corner holding AK-47s and other larger arms. Today I witnessed a scene right out of a Pablo Escobar film. There were at least ten guys just a block from my house standing guard at one of the houses known to be involved in narco-trafficking. They looked ready for war with their loaded automatic weapons and police issued body armor. I've been trying to figure out how they got the body armor: either they killed the cop and took it, stole it from the police station, or the cops are in on it too. Maybe it's a combination of all three. They wore aviator sunglasses and were smoking cigarettes and having a Sunday afternoon beer.
It all has to do with blood feuds or drugs or the combination of the two. These blood feuds from rival families can last for decades. A member of a family kills your cousin and then you kill one of their family members, and then they come back at you. It's a never ending snowball of violence. Our neighbor killed someone about a year ago and the rumor is that they were coming back today for some revenge. The interesting part about the whole thing is that even though two families are at war, they work for the same boss. Just to be safe I am not going to mention his name. I'll call him Luigi. Luigi is the boss in town. He has the most guns, and therefore has the most power. I assume that he is responsible for running a good amount of drugs through Olancho and eventually to Mexico.
As well as seeking revenge for the killing a year ago, the rival faction was rumored to be coming for another reason. Two nights ago, a member of the rivals was found dead not too far from town. His car was never recovered. The rumor is that he was killed by the traffickers who hang out in my neighborhood and the car was disassembled and sold for parts. Rumors are also circulating about another suspicious death that looked like a suicide. A body was found yesterday with a bullet in his head and a gun in his hand, leaving the town to believe it was a suicide. I don't think anyone can be too sure.
Like an old Mexican film, Luigi provides security to the poor village. He came in and went to all the known criminal's houses and told them if they didn't stop robbing the rest of the village he was going to kill them. He became the law in San Francisco because the police are a non existent force in the judicial system. Hell, the police probably work for Luigi now. Now Luigi and his henchman move freely within the town because he is providing a much needed service and no one would dare contest him. When we had problems with one of our students bringing a gun near the school and threatening to kill another student, Ricardo got in contact with a friend of Luigi and told him to have the kid settle down.
The Peace Corps just pulled out of Catacamas, because of the drug violence, and I imagine if there were Peace Corps volunteers in my town, they would be taken out too. All of this doesn't really concern me though. It is a drug war, a family feud. I just need to make sure that I am not in the middle when they start shooting. And just as I am writing, two shots went off right outside my window. Time to move further inside the house to avoid any stray bullets...