When people hear about the drug cartels in Mexico they imagine the drug lords with uncountable money and power. But, people never picture the normal people that live in the same place where their fights take place. No one thinks of those who live an ordinary life. I was one of them. I used to live in Matamoros since I can remember. I was born in the United States, but I was raised in Mexico. My parents took this decision based on the childhood they experience on their own. They believed that living in Matamoros could give me some type of peace. As a child, I used to go to the store at 2 am with my uncles just to buy candies. I remember taking the road at 5 am when everyone was asleep. But at some point, everything started to change. I started to see some changes around me. People started to be afraid of going out at night because of the fear of a shooting or seeing the “wrong people” in the street. I started to feel the change when my aunts and uncles no longer wanted to visit us because of the danger that our city had. Fear started to take off my most precious moments one by one, and the society in which I was living let it happen.
Today, I can truly say that I started a journey to the US seek for freedom. I started my education in the United States because I was looking for freedom. I no longer wanted to decide if I was going out based on daylight.  We were afraid of narcos as if they were monsters that only came out to the streets at night. I remember when shootings started to occur during the day time, we were scared to leave the house. They not longer were monsters from the darkness of night. They were shooting each other at 1pm in the most concurred street.  I remember being at high school in Mexico and whenever my classmates started to leave early the chaos and psicosis started to flow through the hallways. Students would start to ask “is there any shootings? Or what is going on?” like it was some type of rain. And at that moment, I realized that society was accepting the fear. Society had started to accept that it was normal to leave a classroom because there was some type of shooting. But, for me, it was never the right choice. I remember the first months I spend at Brownsville, my mom would go to sleep peaceful since she knew that there was nothing dangerous in the streets of my city.
Fear started to appear in the eyes of my fellow classmates when Donald Trump started his presidency. I remember the first day after he won. There was a complete silence in the university. People walked with their heads down. Students questioned their future. I did not wanted to accept fear again. I had struggled trying my best to get away from it and now it was here with me again.I remember seeing one of my friends. She had come to the United States illegally after her family and herself were threatened by drug cartels. She was not coming to the US for a better job or a better opportunity she was here because she needed peace. I remember seen her that day completely sad feeling hopeless for the decision that was taken without her consent. I remember hugging her. I remember telling her how sorry I felt because I failed her. I had the right to vote for a better future for me and for her. But it was not enough to make a change.
But when sadness surrounded the University I saw a light. The next day right after Trump started his presidency there was a march in the whole world. Women stood up for their rights and male were right next to them. People were fighting. I remember seen the different pictures and felt the greatest pride in humanity. There were signs with words of hope that stated how “Love not Hate Makes America Great” and “The Future is Female.” I was proud to be in a country where thousands came together to fight. I had seen society lose their freedom in Mexico. I have seen how everyone surrendered to the wishes of drug cartels. Here, in America, everything was different.
I saw fear in the eyes of Mexican Immigrants who felt scared of living in a country where they are called rapists. But for me. Mexican Immigrants are fighters who came to this country for a better opportunity. I fekt helpless when I saw the mass deportations in TV. Because this country was build in immigration. This country has accepted italians, germans and french but they were unable to accept Mexicans because they care consider a threat. But I saw the light when cities identified themselves as ciudades cantuario that offer peace to those who were looking for a safe heaven. In that moment, I was proud of being American.
Every time that I had a feeling of fear someone came to fight for the rest. When Trump passed the law against Muslims, I remember seen in TV how thousands stood up in front of Airports fighting for those who were coming from countries in civil wars. They were no different to my friend who came to this country for freedom. They came with hopes of a new life like any other immigrant who came to this country. I saw signs that stood up for others stating “No Human Is Illegal” and that simply my heart was full with pride. In the United States, people not only stood up for themselves, but for those who they don't know. I came from a place that lose everything for fear. I know that we have many things to be scared of. There is people in power that have no feelings of love for those who are different. But one thing that I know is that in this country no one would surrender to fear because we all come from places where people gave up their freedom for fear and we are not going to accept something like this in the country of freedom.
Perla Melendez is a resident of Brownsville and Matamoros. She is 22 years old. She ​​​​​​​spend most of her life in Matamoros and decided to come to the U.S to study her bachelor’s degree. She is currently pursuing a Bachelor’s Degree in English and a minor in Spanish Translation in The University of Texas Rio Grande Valley.
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