By Jim Schutze
By Rachel Watts
By Lauren Drewes Daniels
By Anna Merlan
By Lee Escobedo
By Eric Nicholson
In the 17 months that Susana Loera worked at the Mexican Consulate in Dallas, she was horrified by what she saw. She and others at the diplomatic mission say that her boss, Mexican Vice Consul Luis Lara, regularly advised his compatriots charged with crimes in the United States to flee to Mexico. Loera also says that Mexicans seeking legal advice at the consulate were often improperly funneled to a single Dallas attorney, Pablo Alvarado, in return for money and favors. Since she left the consulate last May, she has waged a campaign to publicize her allegations, a campaign that is now attracting attention at the highest levels on both sides of the border.
In the January 5 feature, "Run for the Border," the Dallas Observer chronicled Loera's efforts to curb the abuses, first from the inside from her position as a legal assistant at the consulate. Her complaints brought no results except for heated arguments with her superiors, even after she proved her dedication by adopting Yolanda Mendez, a minor and victim of sexual abuse who Lara also advised to flee to Mexico instead of filing charges in the United States. Loera's allegations, however, made the news in various Spanish-language newspapers and in Dallas television reports, prompting Consul General Carlos Garcia de Alba, the diplomat in charge of the Dallas mission, to launch an investigation.
But Loera, a U.S. citizen, wasn't satisfied with what she saw as an empty promise. "They'll put on a show, and then they're going to conclude that there was nothing to substantiate my allegations," she predicted. So Loera continued to pepper government officials with e-mails and letters, addressing her missives to U.S. Attorney General Alberto Gonzales and Mexican President Vicente Fox, among others. The break came, Loera says, when she had the inspiration to start copying President George W. Bush on her e-mails. "I copied and pasted that on there so that they would go, 'Oh shit! She's e-mailing the president!'" Loera says with a smile.
Soon after, on January 16, she finally got an e-mail from the Mexican Foreign Ministry, saying that Fox's office had referred the case to them and an investigation would be initiated--the first confirmation from Mexico that her allegations would be examined. A letter from the U.S. Department of State dated January 3 confirmed interest north of the border as well. At long last, the Dallas consulate may come under the scrutiny that Loera's been hoping for.
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