Last month, four relatives from this village, which depends almost entirely on the money its sons and husbands send back from the United States, were brutally murdered in a sparse Sharonville apartment, just over the border from Butler County. They all worked in Mason.
The men — a pair of brothers and an uncle and his nephew — were stabbed in their hearts, most likely while they slept.
The unsolved killings shocked Ohio, but their most profound impact was felt 2,000 miles away in El Zacaton, where four families now wonder how they will survive. Two of the men left wives and young children. All were the principal breadwinners for their families. ...
... Poverty is on clear display in El Zacaton: A single stand selling bootleg CDs stands in front of a leafy plaza as elderly men sprawl in the shade of crumbling buildings. A Catholic Church, which is being renovated thanks to money sent from the United States, dominates the town's central square. Clutches of teenagers wearing University of Texas caps and Pittsburgh Steelers jackets fly by on bicycles.
These kinds of long distance global linkages confound our attempts to define a coherent and contiguous regional geography. El Zacaton is a remote corner of Steelers Nation dependent on the economic climate of Ohio. We should attempt to map this network economy and gain a better understanding of the growth opportunities active just beneath the surface of post-industrial distress. At the very least, let's expand our concept of community and recognize those people whose fate we share.