Carlos Gutierrez, whose feet were cut off two years ago by members of a Mexican cartel, pedals from his new home, El Paso to Austin to raise awareness about Mexican corruption. Nov. 7, 2013. He passed by the Torch of Friendship sculpture in downtown San Antonio. Photo By San Antonio Express-News/Bob Owen
Carlos Gutierrez passed out as the large blade cut through his legs — punishment for his refusal to pay a Mexican gang extortion fees from his successful catering business in northern Mexico.
Four men had forced him into the back of his vehicle at a local park before slicing just under his knees. He spent two weeks in critical condition and sought asylum in Texas as soon as he was able.
Now, facing long odds on getting approval to stay in the U.S., Gutierrez has been staging an unusual demonstration to call attention to his plight and to the thousands of other Mexicans who seek asylum in the U.S. each year from drug cartel violence, with little success. Gutierrez has been riding his bicycle through Texas using his prosthetic legs, talking to everyone he meets.
The U.S. Executive Office for Immigration Review did not specifically comment on Gutierrez’s case. However, immigration judges have acknowledged in court that asylum cases based on fear of crime or violence are difficult to make.
“I believe everything you just told me,” immigration Judge Stephen Ruhle told a Mexican applicant at a recent hearing in which the man described being targeted by corrupt police officers for extortion money. “But asylum is not applicable to cases like yours.”
The rest of this article is here: Legless Cyclist Rides for Asylum Seekers
This next article shows he completed his ride in Austin today:
After pedaling more than 700 miles over 12 days through dozens of Texas cities and towns that witnessed his infectious laughter, Mexico’s latest symbol of hope in a war-ravaged country finally broke down.
Carlos Gutierrez — a businessman and Chihuahua native whose legs were cut off by Mexican gang members for failing to pay a $10,000 monthly extortion demand — arrived in Austin on Saturday after leaving El Paso on Oct. 29 with three other cyclists on his “Pedaling for Justice” tour.
“This is something extraordinary, this is something beautiful,” Gutierrez, who uses prosthetic legs, tearfully said after being welcomed with chants of “Justicia! Justicia!” (Justice! Justice!) by a small but enthusiastic crowd at the headquarters of Austin’s Workers Defense Project. “This is a noble cause, this is a pacifist movement.”
Carlos Gutierrez holds up his bike in front of the Texas Capitol on November 9th, 2013 after a 12 day bike ride across Texas. Photo by: Marjorie Kamys Cotera
The first link has lots of great photos, but the photo at the top came from this article:
Gutierrez once was a successful businessman running a food service company in Chihuahua. With no police protection, he repeatedly was held up for $10,000 a month in cartel extortion payments that he ultimately was unable to pay.
On Sept. 30, 2011, armed men showed up at a park, where he was relaxing with friends. They forced him into the back of an SUV and cut his feet off — in public.
Remarkably, he survived and recovered, but his legs had to be amputated to his knees.
The atrocity he suffered wasn’t what caused him to hold back tears Thursday as he and his team rested on Southwest 22nd Street on the West Side, on their way downtown to the Mexican Consulate.
“I’ve left that behind,” Gutierrez said in Spanish. “I left that in my country.”
When Gutierrez cries — or fights the urge to — it’s about ” mi angel,” he said of prosthetics specialist Eddie Zepeda of Las Cruces, N.M., who offered to help him without charge.
When Gutierrez speaks about Zepeda, he has to pause to gather his composure, trying to describe a man he regards as his guardian angel. Zepeda’s generosity and the speed with which he fitted him for prosthetics still overwhelms him.
The day he received his prosthetic legs, and a new lease on life, was his birthday. Zepeda was unaware, he said.