They Cut His Legs Off in Mx. ; Now he is Pedaling For Justice in Texas
by Angela Kocherga,
EL PASO, Texas—A cyclist on a 701 mile bike ride across Texas is “Pedaling for Justice” to raise awareness about Mexican citizens fleeing violence and seeking a safe haven in the US.
“We had to go through something very cruel, difficult. We’re not here because we chose to leave,” said Carlos Gutierrez, 35.
Two years ago Gutierrez owned a successful food and beverage company in Chihuahua City. But when he could no longer pay thousands of dollars in extortion money, criminals cut off the lower part of his legs.
“I was tortured, mutilated," said Gutierrez.
He survived the attack and fled across the border to El Paso where he is now among a growing number of Mexicans citizens seeking asylum. Some have formed a group called “Mexicanos en Exilo,” Mexicans in Exile, which offers legal assistance in the US while seeking justice for victims back in Mexico.
Most asylum cases involving Mexican citizens are denied. While waiting for a decision about his case in El Paso, a chance meeting changed Gutierrez’s life.
It was Thanksgiving 2011 and Eddie Zepeda, a certified prosthesis, was at an outlet mall with his wife and children when he spotted Gutierrez.
“When I saw this young man in that power wheel chair without his legs I just couldn’t help myself,” he said.
Zepeda approached Gutierrez and said, “I just want to make sure you know that you can walk again.”
He helped Gutierrez get his first set of prosthetic legs and helped design the lighter pair that he is using on the 701 mile bike trip from El Paso to Austin.
“Eddie is my angel,” said Gutierrez.
The two men have become close friends.
“It doesn’t matter how you fall, it’s how you get back up again. And that came from him,” said Zepeda, who has prosthetic practice in Las Cruces. “I think I’m going to frame that.”
Gutierrez departed from El Paso Monday as a crowd of well wishers chanted “justicia,” (justice).
He, and a small team of riders, will travel across West Texas to Central Texas making stops in Marfa, Del Rio, and San Antonio before reaching Austin, their final destination. A rally is planned in Austin on Nov. 9, the day Gutierrez is expected to arrive.
Gutierrez hopes his story of survival inspires others.
“I’m still standing and I want to keep fighting,” said Gutierrez, who once feared he would never walk again.
Re: They Cut His Legs Off in Mx. ; Now he is Pedaling For Justice in Texas
Tex: ??? Your comment is a non sequitur.
1. Do your relatives want asylum or not?
2. Do they know how to ride a bike?
3. Have any of them had their legs cut off?
4. Is the person who is the subject of this article somehow less or more courageous that your 500 relatives in Mexico?
5. In your opinion, is the bicyclist wrong in seeking asylum in the U.S.? If so, why or why not?
I could go on, but your comment gives me no indication as to what your point is. I, too, have hundreds of relatives in Mexico, and dozens, if not hundreds, more who were driven out of Mexico by the narcos. Some had their homes burned down and their property looted. Some didn't make it and were shot to death or were driven even farther south into Mexico. And I know a lot more people who have suffered the same fate, but who are not relatives of mine.
@Texcoco. first thing. Those numbers are astonishing. There are not many people that could make a list of 500 friends and family. i had to look twice to see who posted that - I thought sure it must be Animal. You are a very fortunate man, but sending Christmas cards, buying presents, keeping up with birthdays, and all the other things that family and friends do for each other must be a bitch.
Second thing. Have any of those 500 family and friends had their legs cut off at the knees by a cartel for refusing to pay extortion fees?
There are over 115 MILLION other Mexicans who also have not sought "safe haven" in the US.
But that does not make those who have opted to seek sanctuary under the provisions of US laws passed by the US Congress called "asylum" any less of a person.
I can assure you that the vast majority of those seeking asylum would rather be back in Mexico with family and friends if they felt safe in doing so. Many of those who have had their fathers, brothers, mother, sisters, murdered and their own lives threatened, had the their home burned and ordered to leave their town or village feel they have no choice but to seek a "safe haven" in the US.
I don't know what your point was in saying your 500 friends and family in Mexico have not sought "safe haven" in the US, but it comes across to me as disparaging to those that have. And that is wrong.
Words are powerful weapons, be careful how you use them.
@Tex If you had your legs cut off by an extortion ring that you could no longer afford to pay.... would you just stay in the same place waiting for them to kill you, or worse, perhaps your family members?