Surfing Through A Drug War
Meet Luis Hernandez, Acapulco’s 17-year-old rising star and drug war survivor.
He’s heard shootouts around his house and seen a dead body in the street. Luis ‘The King’ Rey Hernandez is the 17-year-old rising star of Mexican surfing but first he has to survive the drug wars ravaging his hometown, the coastal-resort city of Acapulco, Mexico.
“The violence in Acapulco is very bad,” Luis Rey tells AFP. “The government, the president – they do nothing. We’re going down the wrong path because we hear gunshots, (we see) dead people. You’re always afraid to leave your house… At sea, I’m not afraid. I feel happy there.”
Once a magnet for the world’s rich and famous, the city has descended into a hellish drug-fuelled gang war recently. More than 1300 people have been murdered there since 2015, including three people on the beach itself.
Luis and his friends have found respite in the waves where constant exercise and the infinite challenges posed by bettering style, technique and performance have kept them occupied. The same can’t be said for much of the city’s youth, however, with many lured into the cartel conflict by quick money and instant power and notoriety. Local surf star, Jose Manuel Trujillo has had three friends killed in their teens in the drug war.
“They are young people who lack education and poverty takes them down that path, the easiest one,” he says. “Thanks to surfing, I stayed away from that path.”
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