The Neighbour, he of the crisp white hat with the curly brim, has been very quiet for a while following his excursion into the world of casino gambling using someone else’s money.
However, things have been changing in our little corner of the world…violent crime has entered the area – usually on a motorbike and armed with a gun.
We were used to the normal sort of crime….the regular burglary of the jewellery store followed by the inflated insurance claim; the settling of accounts between the rival Chinese (money) laundry gangs and anything involving local council contracts, but things have changed.
In the past year the post office has been raided, as has one of the bank branches; small shops have been targeted too, as have the more notorious money lenders of the area who suffer the double whammy of losing their cars as well, because the raiders can’t load safes onto the back of their motorbikes.
Where are the police? Well, you might well ask.
They claim that they are busy dealing with the rampant drug trade and, to give them their due, they are trying to do just that. It doesn’t help that once they arrest someone the local judge lets the bugger loose on the grounds of insufficient evidence.
Given the level of competence of the local prosecutors (the Fiscalia) it is perfectly possible that the case presented to the court does not, indeed, show sufficient evidence to arrest a dog in possession of a bone, let alone a dealer with a house full of crack cocaine in packs ready to sell and vast amounts of unaccounted for cash.
We have had recent experience of their expertise – a case in the long hangover from the fight against the developer – where their idlenesses were content to copy almost word for word the documents supplied by the defendant’s lawyer and on this basis recommend to the local court to reject our case – the which it did with alacrity.
We appealed and a judge from San Jose came out to determine whether our appeal should be allowed.
She listened to the recording of the original trial and summoned all the parties. – though by this time the prosecutor had become bored and had messed off.
Her decision was that the submissions of the local prosecutors’ office had no foundation in fact and, furthermore, their treatment of the case was not only illegal but also contrary to the provisions of the Constitution, so we could indeed lodge an appeal.
Unfortunately, the police do not have the same liberty as ourselves and are stuck with whatever garbage the prosecutors produce for the delectation of the local judge….probably, in the case of the chap with the houseful of crack cocaine, that he just happened to be passing at the time and stopped to see what the police were up to…
The more cynical among you may be wondering whether it is indeed incompetence…or something else.
I could not possibly say. Nor even indicate my views by a nod and a wink.
But the crime wave – and the drug trade – go on unabated.
Thus The Neighbour.
We heard about his reappearance yesterday when Don Freddy came over to tell us that the bridge between us and civilisation was to be rebuilt, some two years after it was carried away in heavy rains.
In the meantime we have been taking the back road up to town – as have the cattle lorries from our side of the stream which have managed to damage an already doubtful drainage system now on the verge of collapse.
The good news had been given to the barrio’s development committee – of which Don Freddy is a member – at the monthly meeting, which had been attended by The Neighbour, nattily attired in sparkling white trousers, highly polished western boots, a black shirt and, of course, the crisp white hat with the curly brim which he retained during proceedings.
Unkind supposition had it that he could not take it off as he had not been able to afford to have his hair dyed recently….
Delicate enquiry as to the whys and wherefores of his return from hibernation revealed that he had come forward in order to perform a public service.
Given the crime wave, he declared, no one was safe in their own homes.
As a man whose past history included waving his revolver on peoples’ doorsteps it was felt that he could speak from experience…
The police, he declaimed, were useless.
Not much argument there, then…
He had , however, the solution.
He usually had.
The committee must appreciate that he had, shall we say, a certain reputation.
It did indeed so appreciate: visions of roads being blocked by his lorry, people being attacked with machetes and certain missing goods rose to its collective mind.
It was time to use that reputation to good effect. As a security guard for the inhabitants of the barrio. He would, he declared, be willing to give up his nights to patrol the area, armed with his revolver, to deter criminals…in return for a small honorarium.
But, said the committee, it did not have the power to engage a security guard, let alone the funds to pay for one.
Not a problem.
A.There was no need to enter his offer in the minutes and
B. As the bridge was about to be built they could go a bit light on the cement and pay him that way…in cash.
Don XXX, slated to be in charge of the works ( and the cement) protested.
What was the problem, asked The Neighbour. Surely Don XXX didn’t mind giving up some of his own prospective pickings to further the public weal….
But we all know that that revolver isn’t licenced, said Dona Mery. Suppose you shoot someone…
Simple. If it wasn’t licenced it couldn’t be traced to him….
The committee asked for time to consider his kind offer and the official meeting broke up.
I asked Don Freddy why they didn’t report his unlicenced firearm to the police.
No point, said Don Freddy. He has friends in the Fiscalia…