Crossin’ the Line

13 Jan

We have a place down in Mexico, where we spend a few months a year, just south of San Diego. It’s a quiet area, at least as quiet as any other area in Mexico these days. The house is paid for, kind of a hedge against retirement, and the upkeep is minimum. But there’s a major downside.

Mexico has turned into a combat zone nearly rivaling Baghdad. The war between various drug gangs, crooked cops, corrupt Mexican Army and still-honest Mexican Marines has turned most border towns (and many in the interior, as well) into bloody war zones. Over 14,000 people have been murdered in less than three years, and the count keeps climbing. Kidnappings take place almost daily, and the majority end badly, even if the ransom is paid. Army patrols have been singled out for rape, torture and street executions, and the local cops are even worse, as most of those that are bad, are working for one drug cartel or another. Terror is the name of the game here, and scarcely a day goes by that we don’t hear automatic gunfire in our neighborhood.

And our place is in one of the better neighborhoods!

The popular wisdom says that all this is a result of President Felipe Calderón’s war on drugs and corruption. While I’ll be the first to admit that I don’t think he had a well thought-out strategy when he began this war, I hardly think it’s fair to lay the blame at his feet. That’s like blaming a rape victim for being a woman, hence vulnerable. A load of crap! At least he’s trying to do his job!

I think what some of the players in this war are missing, is the fact that the Mexican people are only going to take so much. Like people anywhere, they have their limits. Crime occurs all over the world, an unfortunate by-product of human population. Organized crime, demanding that businesses pay protection, is a little worse, but sufferable, at least when few options exist.

But when day to day life becomes hazardous for wives, sons and daughters, it takes on a new, more personal nature. Tolerance runs out quickly, and courage can flourish. At some point, things come to a head, and the people take things into their own hands. That’s not likely to suddenly erupt on a national level… it’ll occur first just here and there, and with only limited benefits. But the word spreads quickly, and the courage surfaces!

At that point, the narcotraficantes*, the crooked cops and the Army, can suddenly find themselves the hunted.  And if it happens, it’ll be open season!

It won’t be pretty, and it won’t be easy. Such things never are. But the outcome is a given. One man with  a submachine gun can’t beat 1,000 men with axes and clubs… not in the long run. The beheadings and acid baths will all be remembered, and the fear and resentment will all surface. The murdered friends and family members, the butchered kidnap victims and the raped girls, women and old ladies will be remembered, and they’ll be avenged.

And a cry will go up all across Mexico… “Viva México! Muerte a los asesinos!”**

The real question then will be, can President Calderón keep a lid on things. I hope he has a better strategy for that.

I’m sure some of you reading this must have an opinion on whether or not the people will get tired enough of this garbage to do something about it. I’d really like to hear your comments.

*Drug dealers

**Long Live Mexico! Death to the murderers!

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4 Responses to “Crossin’ the Line”

  1. Carlos January 14, 2010 at 12:17 pm #

    Hi Doc,

    Not sure such a popular uprising against the corruption happening in Mexico will happen any time soon if at all.

    I mean look at China. Some of the stuff they do is absolutely unbelievable. Stuff most people are not even aware of. Torturing of innocents in ways that are indescribable and inhuman.

    Of course the majority of people there are not in the know about such things so maybe that explains why the Chinese have not risen up against the evil there.

    Take Iraq. There were lots and lots of murders and what have you there before the U.S. invasion. No uprisings there either.

    Hard to say what if anything the Mexican people will do. But probably it won’t be any time soon if history is any indication. Such things take a long time to come to a head.

    Better I say to sell your house if you can and get out of Mexico. There are lots of South American countries that are much more stable with lots less crime and corruption.

    Just my two cents.

    Carlos

    • Doc January 14, 2010 at 12:31 pm #

      True, Carlos, such things can take generations to come to a head. I certainly don’t advocate a revolution, as it’s the people that will suffer the most. But I do think that some flashes of vigilantism would find a lot of popular support. Hopefully, something good will happen soon. Thanks for your comment!

  2. neighborofthebeast January 25, 2010 at 12:31 pm #

    Madman –

    Thanks for your comment on my site.. I’ve been looking at yours yesterday and today and really enjoy it. I’ve had this same conversation with several friends here exactly about what this post covers. Being neither a blind optimist nor pessimist, one has to accept that there are few, if any, other realistic solutions that bring realistic peace and relative stability.

    Even if Felipe Calderon is genuine, and let’s say he is… hell let’s go insanely further say he’s even beyond narcotraffic and had a true desire to reform from top to bottom the whole political and judicial system in an effort to erradicate all the corruption… (and thank goodness your smart enough that I won’t have to repeat the first line of this paragraph all over again…).. coming up with a perfect, even good strategy would be like trying to pull off completing a pile of pick-up sticks the size of a haystack. It’s not my nature to sound defeatist, but the more one delves into things, the bigger the pile of pick-up sticks seems to become. But, as you aptly state, he cannot call himself a leader and simply not do anything.. The drug traffickers are the ones who write the creed that you must bring death to peoples doors to make people understand… they won’t stop until somehow they’re made to choke to death on their own message.

    Mexico’s greatest hope is it’s people… and as you say, everyone draws a line in the sand eventually.

    Good axioms too, by the way!

    • Doc January 25, 2010 at 3:27 pm #

      Thanks for the kind words, Shayne! You’re absolutely right, that there is no easy solution. And the problem is a VERY deep one. Corruption is as much a part of the Mexican political culture as lying is to politicians in general. The exceptions are few and far between.
      Thanks for the comment! I hope to see you around here again.

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