By Stephen Young
By Stephen Young
By Stephen Young
By Jim Schutze
By Rachel Watts
By Lauren Drewes Daniels
Flores says he was shocked by the attitude of Lara and others at the consulate. "Their mentality is, 'It's them against us,'" he says. Nevertheless, he doesn't regret his month there. "It opened my eyes," Flores says. "I assumed the corruption was only in Mexico and that it couldn't happen here."
Dallas attorney David Reyna can confirm Lara's run-for-the-border advice. A client, Roberto Valles, came to him in a state of near-panic after Lara told him to flee to Mexico after Valles was cited for having a fake Social Security card. Valles didn't want to leave his job or his two American-born children, and Reyna assured him that skipping the country wouldn't be necessary. Valles went to court in October, and the case was dismissed. "This guy had the courage to come to see me and then the courage to show up to court," Reyna says, "but I don't know how many people took [Lara's] advice." Reyna is eager to talk to investigators about Lara's act. "There have been no consequences for what he almost did to that family," Reyna says.
Pablo Alvarado's privileged position at the consulate has also been confirmed by several attorneys, Loera says, including her employer John Read. Read did pro bono work for the consulate until earlier in 2005 and makes no secret of his position. "They're not really helping the people," Read says. "I got discouraged; I just quit working with them." Former city council member and attorney Domingo Garcia has also complained of having clients stolen away by Alvarado at the consulate.
Sylvia Gonzales, a local doctor, has added her voice to Loera's complaints as well. In two years as an immigrant advocate for the Irving Independent School District, Gonzales paid frequent visits to the consulate with her clients seeking information or documents. "The majority of the people that go there for help are poor, uneducated people, and the treatment they get is extremely bad," Gonzales says. "You always spend hours and hours--one case takes all morning, and many times we'd come away with nothing."
Not everyone is disenchanted with the consulate, however. Dallas attorney Charles Noteboom has done pro bono work there and has contributed money to fund consulate events as well. "There are just way too few people there trying to do way too big of a job," Noteboom says. "They're hard-working public servants."
Consul General Carlos Garcia de Alba has taken the lead in defending his office. "First, Susana Loera was never an employee of the consulate," Garcia de Alba says. "Ms. Loera was never an employee of the government of Mexico, despite what she says to the contrary. Secondly, all of her assertions are absolutely slanderous, all of them." He also has some words of warning for Loera: "She has made some very grave accusations," he says. "If any of them are proven, we would bear the consequences, as would be our responsibility, but if they don't find anything, which is what will be the case, Ms. Loera will be the one faced with a serious legal problem."
Loera says she has already faced anonymous e-mails attacking her character, saying she'd slept with multiple consulate employees. Another rumor circulated that she and John Read were lovers. Loera says both claims are false but not unexpected. "That's the old Mexican way of doing stuff, the old macho way--'She's a bad person because she sleeps around,'" Loera says. "My only motivation is Yolanda."
When Garcia de Alba is asked about Loera's possible motivations for her campaign against the consulate, the diplomat responds, "You'll have to ask her." But in a July 13, 2005, letter of recommendation Garcia de Alba wrote for Loera, a letter laden with praise for Loera's "diligence" and "calm resolve," his own words suggest a different rationale: "Her dedication to justice is the focal point of her life, and she is a woman that has made the decision to help those less fortunate than herself."