An Intrusion of Reality
by Fred Reed: Elderberry
Press vs. Random House
usually for the worse, and always against the innocent. (This truth
is a principle of curmudgeonry.) When I came to Mexico some eight
years ago, it was a peaceful, moderately successful upper-Third-World
country middle-class, barely, literate, though often barely,
and as democratic as the United States, which is to say barely.
Things were improving, though often they had a long way to go. The
young were visibly healthier than preceding generations. The birth
rate was in sharp decline. Women entered the professions in substantial
and growing numbers.
And it was
safe. Expats sat over coffee at the plaza laughing at people back
in the States, insular, fearful, ignorant of the world outside their
borders. (For recent college graduates, Mexico is a country south
of the United States. South is down on maps.) Mexico,
they believed, was most astonishing perilous. Don't drink the water,
avoid ice. Salads were thought especially lethal. The Federales
would kill you for sport, like squirrels. On any given day, you
would probably be shot several times by bandidos. It was nonsense.
Fox left office, and Felipe Calderon came in. He declared war on
the narcotraficantes. Why he did this, I don't know, since
Mexico didn't have a drug problem. My guess is that Washington pushed
him into it, but I don't know.
Mexico, which neither produces nor uses a lot of drugs, lies between
Colombia, which produces vast amounts of drugs, and Americans, who
want vast amounts of drugs. Washington does not want Americans to
have vast amounts of drugs. Neither did it want to lose votes by
imprisoning white users of drugs, such as college students, high-school
students, professors, Congressmen, lawyers, and blue-collar guys
driving bulldozers. The answer was to make Mexico fight Washington's
couldn't fight the narcos, because the United States was actually
on the side of the traficantes. Does this sound counterintuitive?
What happened was that the narcos gave the Americans the huge quantities
of drugs they wanted, and in return Americans gave the narcos huge
amounts of money and military-grade weaponry: chiefly AKs, but also
grenades and the occasional RPG. The Mexican police, lightly armed,
barely paid, and utterly corrupt, could do nothing against these
odds. The narcos had a further argument: Do what we say, and we
will give you money. Otherwise, we will kill your family.
army doesn't do a whole lot better. It is chiefly a disaster-relief
outfit since it has nobody to fight. Mexico doesn't want to invade
Guatemala, and has not for some time been openly invaded by America,
though truculo-louts north of the border urge this bright idea.
to keep Americans from doing what in fact they are contentedly doing
with no restriction and little inconvenience using every
drug known to man or beast is wrecking yet another country.
was for some time largely in the northern tier of states, Chihuahua,
Tamaulipas, Durango, and of course Sinaloa, but now the states of
Mexico, Guerrero, Michoacan and Jalisco have decapitated bodies
strewn about like cherry blossoms in spring.
state in west-central Mexico, contains Guadalajara, Lake Chapala,
and me. Along the north shore of Lake Chapala lie Chapala, Ajijic,
Jocotepec, and lesser towns inhabited by lots of expat gringos.
These towns, as I say, were quiet when I arrived. You could wander
home at two in the morning with little concern and a beer in hand.
But now the narcos have arrived. Ergo:
A few weeks
back in downtown Chapala there was a firefight with automatic weapons.
A few days ago a police car on the local by-pass was attacked with
automatic weapons. A few days more ago three bodies, buried by kidnappers,
were found in Joco, and three local police were arrested for complicity.
Various beheaded or chopped-up former people have surfaced locally,
as well as a couple of meth labs. I could go on.
So far, gringos
have not been targets. This may last. It may not. Still, things
are out of control and getting crazier. For example, in Guerrero
the narcos told the teachers in the schools of Acapulco to hand
over half their pay in protection money, at which point many dozens
of schools closed as teachers declined to attend. This comes close
to qualifying the country as a disaster area which, without the
narco wars, it wasn't even close to being.
What does this
mean for Americans? It depends on the Americans. If gringos begin
to be attacked here, there will probably be a mass exodus back to
the Northern Rubber Room. A few are already bugging out.
such a remigration would be a catastrophe. To simplify and approximate
vigorously, Mexican law requires expats to have incomes of a thousand
bucks a month. Most have a lot more. I have read that a million
gringos live in Mexico. So, a thousand times a million times twelve
is, well, a bunch of money annually. Losing it would unhelp the
local economy, and probably send people toward the Rio Bravo in
don't care at all what happens in Mexico, or anywhere else they
can't actually see. However, it is hard to figure the advantage
of having a major trading partner turn into Afghanistan with better
bozos of immoderate idiocy fantasize, as mentioned, of sending the
Marines. Oh sure, that will work. The Pentagon couldn't win a rigged
lottery, much less a war. Mexico, especially in the godawful, broken,
infernally impassible mountains where the dream-weed grows, is perfect
for displaying the clownish incapacity of the Nintendo military.
The GIs don't know the territory, most don't know the language,
the people, or the culture, but they can yell Ooo-rah!
really well. That's because it has only two syllables.
change things except the utter collapse of the US economy and the
burning of its cities, a singularity the other side of which is
not visible. Any possible solution would require a decision. The
US no longer does decisions. It can neither stop the drug traffic
nor legalize it. It can neither win wars nor abandon them, neither
make money nor stop spending it, neither stop immigration nor assimilate
the immigrants. Washington can beat its thumb with a hammer, yes,
and notice that it hurts, but it can't stop beating its thumb. That
would take a decision, and Washington doesn't do decisions.
me, asking where I would go if I were trying to get out of the crumbling
US before the roof falls in. Argentina. Thailand. Viet Nam. China.
Preferably to a country without oil. Chile. Maybe Uruguay. Almost
anywhere in Europe if you can afford it. Mexico is a fine place,
but getting dicey. Very dicey.
is author of Nekkid
in Austin: Drop Your Inner Child Down a Well and A
Brass Pole in Bangkok: A Thing I Aspire to Be. His latest
book is Curmudgeing
Through Paradise: Reports from a Fractal Dung Beetle. Visit
© 2011 Fred Reed
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