The Exodus Begins
by Fred Reed: Justice
can happen in a decade, said Fred with his characteristic
and astonishing insight.
When I arrived
in Mexico going on ten years ago, it was a mildly sleepy upper-Third
World country, whatever that means corrupt but not dangerous,
not rich but hardly poor, barely middle-class overall and climbing,
the mañana thing seldom noticeable, and women pouring into
the professions. I parodied the American conception of Mexico as
perilous hellhole because it wasn't. Not even close.
Then in 2006
Felipe Calderón became president, and declared war on the
drug cartels. Mexicans I talk to think he did it under pressure
from Washington, but I don't know. Certainly Washington has done
everything in its power to encourage it.
The war failed,
as anyone with even a vague understanding of the world would have
predicted. A war on drugs foolish phrase may be said to
succeed if the price of drugs rises on the American street. It didn't.
that were touted as successes against the traficantes. A fair number
of bosses of important cartels were killed or caught. Since Americans
confuse leaders with movements and countries, this sounded like
progress. Of course if, for example, you kill a leader of the Taliban,
his second takes over within hours and all goes on as before. And
if you kill the leader of a cartel, his underlings fight among themselves
for the pieces, thousands die, and law breaks down. Mexicans know
this. The State Department apparently doesn't.
as always, drugs remain everywhere available in America.
At first the
killing remained largely in the northern states, Chihuahua, Sonora,
Sinaloa, Tamaulipas, and such, with patches south in Jalisco and,
especially, Michoacan. The gringos who lived around Lake Chapala,
an hour south of Guadalajara, were not much affected.
Then the mayhem
arrived here at Lakeside. In recent months the gringo havens along
the lake have seen firefights with automatic weapons and grenades.
Bodies are frequently found. Very frequently. Until recently no
gringos were killed. The narcos were fighting among themselves and
against the police. Expats didn't, and so far don't, interest them.
A few days
ago an American was killed in Ajijic, the epicenter of gringolandia.
It was just an armed robbery gone bad. The narcos had nothing to
do with it. Thing is, when the country falls into chaos because
of the war against drugs, every other kind of crime
have begun moving out. Realtors report large numbers of houses going
on the block. If this continues, and I see no reason why it won't,
restaurants will continue to close, maids and gardeners will lose
their jobs, and the doctors and dentists that serve the expatriates
will leave. Today a local Spanish website reports a fall of fifty
percent in trade at eateries. If this continues, tourism, a
crucial business in Mexico, will disappear. Already, we hear, the
cruise ships have stopped going to Puerto Vallarta.
for hundreds of thousands of retired gringos, this is very bad news.
Many expats came here because they couldn't afford to retire in
the United States. They still can't.
lived for many years in Washington, associating with news weasels
and policy wonks, I have never understood their mixture of appalling
ignorance, incuriosity (I say it's a word), insularity, narcissistic
nationalism, and otherworldly moralizing resting on platitudinous
amorality. All elections are personality contests, all politics
is domestic, and everything is done in bromides so that neither
public nor pols have to know anything at all. Ignorance has consequences.
NAFTA forced Mexican campesinos to compete with mechanized American
agriculture, which they couldn't, so they went to the cities, where
they drifted either into crime or north to Arizona. Or both.
Mexico is being
wrecked in what amounts to an out-sourced American civil war. Huge
numbers of Americans use drugs, most assuredly including people
on Capitol Hill. Moralists and the Feds don't want them to use drugs.
Putting many millions of white users in Leavenworth would be politically
awkward. So: Export the war to Mexico, which never had a drug problem.
This solution is acceptable for white users, who continue to have
ample supplies at high convenience and low cost. It is acceptable
to the anti-drug industry, the cops and prison guards and so on,
who get fat salaries, and to the narcos. It is a splendid situation
all around, except for poor blacks and Mexico. About neither of
which anyone gives a damn.
Now, it must
be obvious to a mentally retarded marmoset that nothing can stop
the flow of drugs to the United States. Any drug anyone might want
is available at reasonable cost to anyone who wants it. When peasants
in the Sierra Madre Occidental can suddenly have high-end pickup
trucks and cable television by selling drugs, they are going to
sell drugs. And why not? After all, if the gringos don't want drugs,
they don't have to buy them, do they? When the cartels make $40
billion a year (a common figure, however arrived at) there will
always be those wanting to work in the trade. The money is sufficient
to buy military-grade weapons from the US, including from the US
government, and it is enough to bribe officials in both countries.
politicians want to send the military to Mexico, and are doing it
quietly in the form of retired or retired military types,
DEA, drones, training, and all the rest of the now-standard camels'
noses under other people's tents. These are the politicians, remember,
who brought you Korea, Iran shortly, Viet Nam, Cambodia, Laos, Somalia,
Iraq, Pakistan, Uganda, Afghanistan, and all the other well-conceived
brilliancies of the wildly ill-informed. Add to this a comic-opera
military that has never been able to beat bush-world peasants with
AKs and a bad attitude toward invasion.
know this farce for the farce it is. In this I include large
numbers of cops who are not fools and actually see what is going
on. If they they talk, they lose their jobs, so they don't. But
of course no one really has an interest in ending the slaughter
except those being slaughtered.
It will get
worse here in Mexico, unless the Mexicans themselves do something
about it. They probably cannot. Vicente Fox (former president of
Mexico, as Americans are all aware) favors legalization everywhere,
but the cartels can easily buy any country's politicians to prevent
this. The Mexican public more and more favors reaching an accommodation
with the narcos: You sell your drugs and we will turn a blind
eye, but put an end to kidnappings, extortion, and the murder of
the uninvolved. This might work because it would be in the
interest of the traficantes, who could discourage kidnappers
by killing them unpleasantly. Nothing that isn't in the interest
of the nacros will work, since they are too strong to coerce.
of expats go on the market, with few if any buyers, and the sale
of drugs in American goes on, undisturbed.
is author of Nekkid
in Austin: Drop Your Inner Child Down a Well, A
Brass Pole in Bangkok: A Thing I Aspire to Bem, Curmudgeing
Through Paradise: Reports from a Fractal Dung Beetle, Au
Phuc Dup and Nowhere to Go: The Only Really True Book About Viet
Nam, and A
Grand Adventure: Wisdom's Price-Along with Bits and Pieces about
Mexico. Visit his
© 2011 Fred Reed
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