Ernesto Sánchez was born Cristina Sánchez in Mexico City. The family was in the drug trade: Cristina’s father and uncle acted as middle-men for the Cali cartel, moving cocaine from Colombia to the United States. It was a tough, dangerous business, and when things got hot the family migrated to safety in Canada. Cristina was sixteen. Soon after, Cristina transitioned to being Ernesto. As a young man in Canada, Ernesto worked as a police officer, and at age 28 he returned to Mexico City to become a private detective. For ten years, Ernesto worked simple gigs. Then he got a call that would change his life: a Canadian woman had gone missing, and the family wanted her found. That case built Sánchez’s reputation as one of the smartest, toughest, and most reckless detectives in all of Mexico. He hasn’t lost it since.
Ernesto is a heterosexual male who has a thing for unavailable femmes. For the most part, he is not written as a “trans male” – that change has happened, and he’s living as a guy. As a child, he was tough Cristina, and that toughness lives with him still. He is close to his family, though his sister and parents are far away in Canada. He makes friends fast but doesn’t keep them long. Ernesto believes he is loyal, and that he can fix things in the end; unfortunately, he does a lot of damage along the way. Hurting people while trying to do the right thing to help others is an ever-present dilemma.
An impulsive person, Ernesto can lack introspection (at least in the moment), and is often alienated from himself to the point that he is oblivious to his own physical pain. He does not fear his own death, yet is terrified to know that it could be in his power to save another’s life. For that, he will do almost anything. He has a perhaps irrational compulsion to care for people he doesn’t know well, or has never met, while putting those close to him in danger.
Central to understanding the character is Ernesto’s family history. He comes from a clan of drug traffickers, and lives in a world in which the police are just another gang, and where the political and business class are on the take. Ernesto was trained as a police officer in Canada, and the grotesque violence and corruption that plague modern Mexico sicken him, yet he will threaten violence and throw a bribe if necessary. Mexico is a country where the ends justify the means; those ends always go to the highest bidder, or the most brutal. Ernesto knows this, and he can play that game. Having no fear helps, but he is vulnerable when others are in danger on his account, even if that other is his dog. His one solace is that he has never killed a man. The problem is he knows he could at any moment.
Banner photograph by Matt Mawson.