Monday, July 2, 2012

The Mexican Tragedy: A Nightmare Come True

Mexico is a country without memory. Twelve years ago, after much bloodshed, the PRI was ousted from power, and we swore it would not return, not ever, certainly not for a hundred years--fifty, at least. Just over a decade later, the PRI is back in its presidential throne.

What happened, Mexico?

Explanation #1: Fear.

The violence unleashed with the change in government in 2000 has only escalated and seems to be uncontainable. Hundreds of thousands dead, kidnapped, mutilated. The US and its secret operations--let's call it what it is, an experiment--for "tracing" weapons dealings into Mexico resulted in a bounty of military-grade armory in the hands of cold-blooded psycho thugs. In spite of President Calderón's "war against drug trafficking", violence only got worse.

Which begs the question: is this really something born out of this change in government? Were there no drug dealers, no cartels, in Mexico prior to 2000? Ask the FBI and the DEA--the answer is an eye-rolled "of course there were".

So why did the violence escalate so drastically in the first decade of the new millennium? Did this new government truly have its head so far up its ass that they caused the violence? Or were they the first to fight it, and thus violate the silent agreements made by the previous governments? And if the latter is true, what does it say about Mexico that we prefer to have these cartel-negotiating people back in power?

Explanation #2: Ignorance.

In spite of the many first-rate brains in Mexico (Nobel prizes in sciences all over the place, writers, historians, anthropologists, sociologists, etc.), the vast majority of the country's +100 million inhabitants are essentially illiterate. The information they feed on comes from monopoly networks like Televisa and TV Azteca, newspapers that, before even the first 1% of votes were counted last night, had today's front page announcing the PRI had won. They don't read news from other countries, they use the internet for Facebook socializing if at all, and they believe what the TV tells them.

A warehouse in Veracruz full of
Peña Nieto gifts, courtesy of
These people also have a misguided sense of loyalty. If a candidate stands outside a supermarket and hands out food packages with a couple hundred pesos inside (US dollar to MX peso: 1:15), and they accept one of these packages, they feel committed to voting for the guy.

My mother has friends who openly admitted they would vote for the PRI candidate, Peña Nieto. Now, these aren't uneducated people; they've gone to university, they've traveled, they're not dirt-poor and easily swayed by a handout. When asked why, for the love of God, their answer was because "he's so good-looking."

This just in. You're not even going to get a kiss before he fucks you.

Explanation #3: Election fraud.

For seventy years (approx. 1930-2000) the PRI ruled in a "plural dictatorship". The presidential term in Mexico is 6 years, and there's no reelection possible. No way, no how. Why? Because we had a garden-variety dictator before that, and he became a dictator by reelecting himself a few times [so voting fraud isn't a PRI prerogative, or even a PRI invention]. So, after the Revolution of 1910, the PRI got smart. The president changed every six years, but not the party. All legal and above-board, right?

Damn loopholes in the Constitution.

The PRI sustained itself in power through fraud, and they didn't even bother to disguise it much. People learned opposition was not to be tolerated, and in any case swatted down swiftly and without remorse, so nobody voted. When they did, it was for the PRI. And the PRI had a whole arsenal of tricks: people in jail "voted". Dead people "voted", too. People "voted" twice, three times. If all that failed to produce a satisfactory advantage, votes were simply left uncounted, disappeared. Bags full of ballots were found in rivers, in abandoned lots, half-burned.

President Vicente Fox, the first
non-PRI president of Mexico in
70 years, took office in Dec 2000.
In 2000, the change of government happened in spite of these tricks. True, after the 1994 fiasco (revolts everywhere, the country teetering on the brink of civil war) the PRI was probably hesitant to push too hard, but push they did. And even so, a different party won. One can only imagine what the "real" difference in votes must have been.

Election fraud yesterday isn't too farfetched. Sure, things have changed. The election law was reformed in 2007 to allow for more recourses in case of dispute. The eyes of the world were watching. Social media made real-time incidents public immediately. And this social media reported ballot urns were being stolen, votes were being bought outside the voting areas.

If Mexico truly has changed, like Mr. Peña Nieto says himself, this is when we prove it. Will we stand and bleat like lambs to the slaughter, or will we actually do something?


  1. to a lesser extent this seems to be what is happening in the US too. We all hated Bush, but let's give his party power again. That worked so well before, right?

    1. Thanks for the comment, PT. Indeed, it's hard to fathom why people insist on returning a certain party to power. And sometimes one has to wonder if the other parties weren't in collusion--how can they pick such weak candidates?

  2. Great and thorough analysis of the situation - no answers because, as in the US, there aren't any. There's no accounting for what people will be swayed into believing. They'd rather believe nice lies than face hard reality.

    1. Ah, Lynne, so true. Nice lies are so much easier to swallow than the hard truth--especially because, in doing that, one must also face one's own responsibility in allowing it to happen. Thanks for the visit!

  3. Ugh, such a stupid/pointless struggle for such a beautiful country and culture to endure. Sadly, I think many, many countries are suffering similar strife at the hands of idiot politicians and criminals (same?). Greece, etc.

    The violence and corruption has to end, and I think that starts with the masses saying, "We've had enough."

    Interesting post, as always, G. :)

    1. Thanks for stopping by, EJ, and giving your two cents. Thank you for calling Mexico beautiful--I can't but agree, of course, but my opinion is kinda subjective :) You're right, many countries are in the same straits. I wonder how long it will take for the masses to stand up and say "enough". I can't abide violence and I'll never advocate for it, but I'm afraid the thread is being stretched too taut. When it snaps, I hope that beautiful country and culture survives intact.


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