March 18, 2010

I am starting to think that the McAllen (TX) Monitor might be the best newspaper in America.

Check out how thoroughly it covers
this story of Ramon Ayala's apology and reemergence.

We also get some good detail about the origins of the concert at the druglord's house:

"In early December, Ayala got a call from his promoter at Monterrey Representantes Artísticos SERCA, who said there was work in Puebla, Pue., for a birthday party or quinceañera on Dec. 10. Ayala said he couldn’t make it because he had to be in Odessa, Texas, for another concert the next day.

That was no problem, said promoter Servando Cano. There were plane tickets from Reynosa to Puebla, then back the next morning, which would allow Ayala and the band to get to Odessa in time for the concert.

Ayala did not say who was paying for the tickets.

He agreed to go.

“I thought that we were going to play on a big stage in a ballroom, but when I realized that was not happening, there was no way out and we decided to go ahead with the commitment and played,” Ayala said in Spanish. Two other famous groups were there: Cadetes de Linares and Grupo Torrente.

Ayala was in a small room playing for one man and a woman; More than 20 women arrived later during the performance, he said.

In total there were 28 musicians in three bands playing for about 25 people, Ayala said.

When he was playing his last song of the night, the lights suddenly went off.

Everyone started running, Ayala said. The bands dropped to the floor.

“Then we started hearing the gunfire. We thought that was the end for us, but thank God we are still here,” Ayala said. “We were able to squeeze into a hallway and two grenades were thrown in that direction and made everything tremble.”

Ayala was caught in the middle of a Mexican navy operation intended to capture Arturo Beltrán Leyva, the head of the Beltrán Leyva drug cartel. It is not confirmed if Beltrán Leyva was Ayala’s sole audience. Ayala said he did not know who the man was.

Three gunmen were killed and 11 others suspected of working for the Beltrán Leyva cartel were arrested that night.

“When the gunfire was over, (the authorities) started asking us who we were,” Ayala said. “I told them I was Ramon Ayala. Some of them recognized who we were, so I thought they were going to let us go, but they didn’t.”"

One reason the Monitor is so good is that it includes links to the pdfs of "state Sen. Eddie Lucio Jr., D-Brownsville, and U.S. Rep. Rubén Hinojosa, D-Mercedes, both of whom sent letters to Mexican Attorney General Arturo Chávez Chávez on behalf of Ayala" I can't remember ever seeing that in a paper.

Nobody ever writes about Los Cadetes de Linares, who also played. They are a great band, and stretching back for decades have been great. Several years ago I bought a cd of theirs at the Mexican flea market in Richmond on Jefferson Davis Highway and the guy selling it told me I would hate it since it was old. Nope.

Anyway, here is one of their classics, though I think it was a Los Alegres de Teran song,

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