Lying in bed the first night in the dark, the situation hit me as surreal. On one side of the valley there was a raging party. Buen Retiro was full swing in their anniversary celebration and the volume on the audio system was loud enough that it sounded like my neighbors had their stereo on full force. Except that the party was at least four blocks away.
The music wasn't quite loud enough however, to drown out the sound of gunfire on the other side of the valley. Wednesday night was the first night of the town uprising against the mayor, against injustice, with all the frustrations that corruption in government bring. On the way home from the gathering in Juan's house, we had walked by the town court where the mob was centered, with rumors that the mayor was inside, that the judge he had bought to exonerate him was inside, and who knows who else. The townspeople were pitting all their fury against the building, throwing broken cement pieces at the windows, and when we passed, they were ramming the doors below with a post-turned-battering ram, a man was pushed from the second story and a fire was lit in the entryway. Molotov coctails were being thrown into the broken windows above and a spirit of violence was heavy in the air. The people wanted blood. At ten, Iquitos sent reinforcements, riot police with tear gas and guns, and the people retreated.
And last night, the second night of the strike, the people got what they wanted. Why they choose to fight only at night is anyone's guess, but the riot police stopped playing and started shooting into the crowd. Tonight there's one youth dead, one child hit by a stray bullet and chances are very good, another two youths have passed from critical condition to join the first. Such senselessness. I guarantee you that the mayor and his officials haven't been hurt. I guarantee you that the leaders of the parties who are instigating the townspeople to rise up haven't been hurt. Only the youth who don't truly even know why they're there, and the policemen who have the very ornerous task of trying to maintain order in a town gone crazy.
My friend Juan saw the first young man shot in front of his house, hit from behind while running from the police with the rest of the crowd. His family had to leave their home because the tear gas was so bad, and he had stayed to watch the house only to be caught in the melee with images he now can't erase from his mind.
Tonight all is quiet and hearts are heavy. It's 8:30, and I pray it will stay that way the rest of the night (it did). Lord, have mercy. Do please pray for Nauta with me. Injustice and corruption are evil, but fighting fire with fire will only make more people hot... and an “eye for an eye, tooth for a tooth” will soon leave the whole world blind and toothless.
"He has told you, O man, what is good;and what does the LORD require of you
but to do justice, and to love kindness,
and to walk humbly with your God?" Micah 6:8
"Repay no one evil for evil, but give thought to do what is honorable in the sight of all. If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all. Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God, for it is written, Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord. To the contrary, if your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink; for by so doing you will heap burning coals on his head. Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good."