Wednesday, March 24, 2010

The low-down on Mexico and drugs

Last week I took a trip to Mexico with Daniel Pace and Caio Ribiero, the current owners of a film rights option to my book, Contrabando. We visited some of my old haunts and a few survivors from the past. We also got a taste of what’s happening in Mexico.

To begin, the Mexican aduana confiscated two sacks of non-hybrid, non-genetically modified corn seed I wanted to take my Mexican friends at the border. Monsanto can and does flood Mexico with Frankencorn, but I can’t take a sack of good seed into their country. So much for the notion of free trade.

Daniel forgot his passport so we were forced to spend a day in Acuna waiting on a Fed Ex delivery. With a history of problems in Acuna, I didn’t want to be out and about after dark, so we rented rooms in a large upscale hotel. Despite spring break, we were one of perhaps 40 guests in a hotel containing a thousand rooms. Waiters in the restaurant, hotel maids and those that operated nearby businesses that cater to tourists sat around with nothing to do.

The next day we drove to a small town near Musquiz, Coahuila. Caio got out a camera and began filming. As I feared, this activity did not go unnoticed. Shortly after leaving the town, we were pulled over by two young local policemen and questioned. The cops weren’t abusive or threatening in any way; they just wanted to know who we were and what we were doing.

I found out why the cops stopped us later while talking to a Mexican friend in-the-know. Apparently, not too long ago, Chapo Guzman’s Sinaloa cartel allied itself with the Gulf cartel. A few days before we arrived, virtually every jefe of the Zetas was picked up and disappeared if they didn’t flee for their lives. The local cops are in a quandry, trying to figure out who the new owners of the plaza will be.

I think the Zetas, and perhaps also the Juarez cartel have outlived their welcome in Mexico. They’ve strong-armed people and preyed not only on those involved in the drug trade and the smuggling of illegal immigrants, but also legitimate businesses as well, all the way down to the poor woman selling used clothing. They also fed the habits of a rather large body of previously non-existent domestic consumers and addicts.

Mexico’s economy is collapsing as oil production continues its steep decline and as remittances from workers in the United States continue to slow. Income from tourism has crashed as violence scares visitors away. Drugs continue to provide lots of money and therefore, despite the rhetoric, will continue to flow north. But those that choose to sell dope to Mexican citizens are being eliminated. No trial, no jury. A hail of bullets, dead bodies. A knock on the door and a disappearance. What’s happening in Juarez and other areas is government sanctioned social cleansing. That is what your tax money is buying.

I wrestled with myself before writing this piece. I believe this is the plan that “worked” in Colombia and it will probably “work” in Mexico as well. What's happening is immoral as hell.

It is what it is and people should know the truth. The Juarez murders by and large are government sanctioned acts of social cleansing. Small time Mexican drug dealers and addicts are being eliminated. Chapo and his cohorts probably promised not to sell drugs domestically. Once competitors are eliminated, (if this can be done), the violence will be quelled and security will be restored. Chapo, or someone like him, will get the green light to keep American appetites for drugs satiated and the flow of drugs will continue, unabated.

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