Mexican mayor survives bullets, gets his own song

But in a Mexico desperate for heroes, plain-talking Mayor Jaime Rodriguez Calderon seems made to order: The song dedicated to him is called "El Bronco," or "The Unbroken One."

"I'm not one of these politicians who hides what they think. I'm facing things that require you to have a strong character," said the mayor of the town of Garcia, a suburb of the northern industrial hub of Monterrey.

The town of 50,000 is surrounded by mountains and ravaged by violence because two former allies the Gulf and Zetas cartels now fight a bloody turf war over the smuggling routes to the US.

Rodriguez Calderon, who has the fit, stocky, no-nonsense bearing of the horseman he is, talks about his struggle against the cartels since he took office 18 months ago.
"I fired all the police and then I began to close the businesses the cartels ran to finance themselves," he told The Associated Press. "I began to impose order on the city ... and that got this gang angry and they reacted."

Unbroken, but not without feeling: He sometimes tears up, as he did when he attended the funeral of a 26-year-old bodyguard killed in the latest attack against him, a carefully planned assault in March in which about 40 gunmen in 15 vehicles opened fire on the mayor's bulletproof SUV during a 20-minute shootout.

The young bodyguard is mentioned in the mayor's "corrido" as "a loyal bodyguard and a great ally."

"When I heard it (the song) I had conflicting feelings, because it suddenly made me remember an event that one wants to forget," Rodriguez Calderon said.

But the song also gives him a boost, he said. "It pushes me to keep going."
In a country where the violence seems endless more than 34,000 people were killed in the first years of Mexico's drug war Rodrigo Garcia, the songwriter, found the mayor's story "interesting and inspirational."

"Here is a person who didn't back down, who didn't run," Garcia said.
"It wasn't just the bulletproofing that saved his life/It was the hand of God," declares the first line of "El Alcalde Bronco," which is just starting to make its way onto the airwaves.
Corridos are folk tales popular in northern Mexico and among Hispanics in the United States. The purpose of the accordion-heavy ballads is to memorialize real-life events both tragic and heroic.

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