BORDERLAND BEAT — ACAPULCO, Mexico — Elena met Rafita a few years ago on the malecón, the breakwater along the port of Acapulco. His shyness and his eyes like the eyes of an injured puppy stole her heart, she remembers. Tourists were throwing coins off their boats and yachts and they were amazed to see him prance along the dock, then nail a dive that seemed almost impossible in order to retrieve their money.
At night, his body went through a different kind of test, used by rickety gringos or Canadians who paid a pimp to do with it what they wanted.
At the time, Rafita was eight.
He was like many others Elena has seen. He had come from the neighboring state of Morelos to this one, Guerrero, which, by 2015, had the highest homicide rate in Mexico, with 54.5 murders per 100,000 inhabitants. (By contrast deadly Chicago—“Chi-raq”—has a murder rate of 15.09.) And he had wound up in Acapulco.
Here, the violence has grown steadily worse. Last April 24, the main avenue of the port, the Costera Miguel Alemán, became a battlefield contested for more than two hours by Mexican federal forces and the organized crime cells that control the non-tourist zones of the municipality.
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