By Ioan Grillo / San Juan Copala Sunday, Feb. 01, 2009
U.S. courtroom dramas don't usually have much impact in this ramshackle village of Triqui Indians deep in the mountains of southern Mexico. But a new case unraveling in Greenfield, Calif., has sent shockwaves through the Mexican community. The accused men are both of Triqui ethnicity, an ancient people who number in just the tens of thousands. The trial will judge one of their most sacred rites: bride prices. Adding to their concern is the way global media have jumped on the story, with the Internet headline "Man Sells Daughter for Beer" sparking a sudden interest in Triqui customs from Italy to Australia.
The case centers on an alleged marriage arrangement that went sour involving Marcelino de Jesus Martinez, his 14-year-old daughter and her suitor, Margarito de Jesus Galindo, 18. Galindo had agreed to pay Martinez for his daughter's hand in marriage, according to Greenfield police. According to the cops, the total cost was $16,000, one hundred cases of beer and several cases of meat. "The 14-year-old juvenile moved in with Galindo, and when payments were not received, the father, Martinez, called Greenfield [police] to bring back the daughter," the police said in a Jan. 12 statement.
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