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Tuesday, December 16, 2008

conversation in mexico

LI had drinks with a well known Meican historian last night. After some shop talk concerning editing his upcoming book, the conversation got around to what was happening in Mexico.

I asked him why Mexico seemed to be falling apart, like Colombia in the 80s.
In the old system of the PRI days, he said, Mexico was divided almost medievally into fiefs, territories ruled by the caciques, the big bosses: PRI functionaries, union leaders, elites from the landholding, merchant and industrial classes. The caciques were not only the cops, but also the robbers. They enforced an order on crime, that is, if the crime were of any large scale. So, whatever illegal enterprises were set up had to pay the caciques, and had to submit – sometimes unwillingly – to the enforcement of limits. At that time, then, the drug lords had to have a certain respect.

This system dissolved rapidly as the PRI lost its mandate. With the ¨democratic moment¨, there was a genuine pause. Nobody knew what the state would do to replace the old system. The cops and robbers waited, as it were, for the new order to appear.

Unbelievably, the historian said, the New Order never appeared. The state never replaced the caciques. It simply let the old ones vanish where it could.

It dawned, then, on the drug lords that they didn´t have to pay the debt of respect to anyone. That there was nobody over them. That they did not have to fear the elites.

The drug lords, I said, were the true children of neo-liberalism. They got it. They understood an opportunity when it appeared before them.

Right, said the historian. So the drug lords rushed in, and soon they were overwhelming the local elites.

Take Tampico, he said. Tampico is at the center of the Gulf oil indrustry, and it used to be that the oil workers union was in everything. They owned markets, they owned hospitals, they rented apartments. If comething happened, there was a little bit of the oil union that got in on it. So the Gulf Cartel had to pay a cut to the union leaders and the PRI. This went without saying.

Today, all that system the union had created has vanished. And along with it, the subservience of the narco bosses.

Here´s the strange thing to me, the historian said. What I´m expected, although it hasn´t happened yet, is for the elites to strike back. I´m surprised that they haven´t yet started organizing paramilitary forces. It is only a matter of time. They haven´t done it yet because, I think, they are still stunned.

What about the military, I said.

You know, the military is not an instrument designed to fight the drug war. 150,000 soldiers have dropped out in the past couple of years.

And, I said, the idea that the poor recruit is going to face the narco soldier, who is from the same class but is much better paid, without asking what side am I on –

Exactly, said my friend. The infection has already been spreading in the army.

So, I said, I see the probability of the paramilitaries. But let´s take this further. I just edited a paper about the dirty war between the Turks and the Kurds in Southeast Turkey. What the Turks did is hire village ¨guards¨- essentially, they recruited death squads. Now, in the situation as you´ve outlined it, I don´t see how the state, if it continues the war, is going to avoid this step. The border, for instance, is a disaster. There isn´t a sane man who would volunteer to police Nuevo Laredo. They´ve slipped almost completely under the control of gangs that fight it out there. They´ve escaped the state´s reach. And how can the state allow that? Better the state sponsored anarchy of the death squads than merely anarchy.

The thing the government really has to do is get back to the old narco system. What is killing everybody is that it has fragmented, and nobody has monopoly power. So they are fighting it out. And not like the old days, when it was the bad guys just killing bad guys.

The interesting thing, I said, is that the state has put itself into a corner. It started this under American pressure. But now, if it doesn´t take control of the border towns, I can envision a scenario where the Americans incurse. Wouldn´t it be ironic if Obama, now considered an angel from heaven, has to play the heavy role once assumed by Woodrow Wilson? I mean, think of the situation. Paramilitaries battling drug lords, death squads in the cities. Unless, of course, Calderon simply stops the madness. If he does the smart thing and refuses to accede to American pressure and deals with the drug lords like the PRI did.

That is what I think could happen, the historian said. The PRI is waiting to come back. They know how to deal with this.

Well, said my friend M., how about trying education? How about infrastructure? How about sewers?

Both the historian and me turned on M. – That is a non-starter. Security has to come first. If you send your seven year old daughter to school and she´s kidnapped on the way, raped, tortured, dumped in the desert, you aren´t going to be begging for schools, you´ll be begging for armed men.

This is Hobbes, M. said.

What puzzles me, I said, is why just drugs? It is a funny thing, the narcos are showing you something – they´ve discovered Mexico is next to the U.S.! So why not a higher value crime. IP crime. Blackmarket software. Illegal generic pharmaceuticals. You know, the illegal drug racket, in the U.S. , instituted practices that are now common among the drug companies. For instance, you know, giving the doctors free drugs to distribute to clients, the doctors not even knowing what they are, so that the clients get a taste. The promise of mood alteration. Most of all, the network of pushers. All taken directly from the narco trade. In fact, legal drugs, sold on the street, are taking the place of illegal ones in some places.

Like Marx said (and I raised my forefinger), the criminal enterprises on the fringes today pioneer the business practices of tomorrow.

I continued, Mexico should follow up the narcos, maybe even consult with the leaders in secret. Thailand and Taiwan have done it, why not Mexico.

Just great, said M. Our tone displeased her. She has kids, and the vision of Mexico dissolving in an orgy of bloodshed is no joke to her. And bloodshed there is every day. It has leaked into the countryside, the routine of slaughter, 20 people here, 20 there, just to send a message. So it is no longer a joke to the vast, poor majority, who used to look on in bemusement.

Still, the historian has what I think of as a Mexican sense of humor, which finds the worst to be the funniest. The worst, after all, is a challenge thrown into the very face of the devil. Top this! How else are you going to get the Prince of Darkness to do his best work.

Your IP idea is good, the historian said. You need to write a proposal to the government. You should consult with them.

4 comments:

northanger said...

AQ 825 π = MONOPOL LEGITIMER PHYSISCHER GEWALTSAMKEIT (AQ-311 POLITIK ALS BERUF; AQ-469, 855, 4044) = ABBEY OF ST AUGUSTINE BECOMING BRISTOL CATHEDRAL = ACADEMICS, POLITICAL SCHOLARSHIP, AND JONAH GOLDBERG = AMERICAN FASCINATION WITH THE LUCKY ELEPHANT-GOD = BIFURCATIONS AND ORDER THROUGH FLUCTUATIONS = BY BECOMING THE LISTENING PATH FOR ALL CREATURES = 'CANDYMAN', A LEWD HIJACKING OF 'BOOGIE WOOGIE BUGLE BOY' = CUTTING OFF [THE] SUPPLY OF ARMS AND AMMUNITION = GENERAL SEMANTICS AND RATIONAL-EMOTIVE THERAPY = GOING BEYOND MERE ORNAMENTATION OF THE ORIGINAL = HARTMANN ELOQUENTLY DEFENDS AMERICAN WORKERS = I BELIEVE IN THE BLACK CAPED CRUSADERS, OF WHICH I AM ONE = IF THROWING IN DOESN'T WORK, TRY THROWING UP = IN HIS PROVOCATIVE PAPER, PROFESSOR LO NOTES = INFORMATION IS INTERPRETED IN VARIOUS WAYS = KYRIE ELEISON DOWN THE ROAD THAT I MUST TRAVEL = N IS THE NUMBER OF DISSOCIATED BRIDGE VALENCE BONDS = NAY, LET A THOUSAND BLOG POSTS ABOUT POOP BLOOM = REFERENCE TO EXTRA-LINGUISTIC REALITY OCCURS = RIDE A PAINTED PONY LET THE SPINNING WHEEL TURN = THE CHORUS TOUCHING THE UPPER LEVELS OF HEAVEN = THE EQUILIBRIUM METHOD IN MULTIPLIER THEORY = THE HIGHEST EMANATION OF BODHISATTVA MANJUSHRI = THE PROBLEM WITH VIKTOR IS ALWAYS THE SAME ONE = THE SECOND BEGINNING OF THINGS ARE AND WAX STRONG = THE SOLID LETTER: READINGS OF FRIEDRICH HOLDERLIN = THE STATE OF HUMANITY/ TORNADO MOAN/ DESOLATION = TIME HAS FALLEN ASLEEP IN THE AFTERNOON SUNSHINE = TURBULENCE ONLY MAKES SENSE AFTER IT'S HAPPENED = VIRTUAL ENTITIES WHICH ACTUALISE THEMSELVES = YESTERDAY'S LANGUAGES BUILT TODAY'S SOFTWARE = YOU HAVE A FINE CAPACITY FOR THE ENJOYMENT OF LIFE.

AQ 855 π = MONOPOLY OF THE LEGITIMATE USE OF PHYSICAL FORCE (AQ-394 POLITICS AS A VOCATION; AQ-469, 825, 2951) = A HOSTILE, IGNORANT, VITUPERATIVE EVISCERATION = AMERICA AT 400: HOW JAMESTOWN COLONY MADE US WHO WE ARE = AN IMPORTANT PAPER BY KAMINSKY, REINHART, AND VEGH (2003) = CANTILLATION SIGNS, VOWELS, CROWNS AND LETTERS = DON'T TRY TO ENCLOSE WHEN YOU HAVE AN OPEN SKIRT = HISTORY AND UTOPIA TRANSLATED BY RICHARD HOWARD = IT IS BOTH PRESENTED AND REPRESENTED: IT IS NORMAL = NORWICH UNIVERSITY, THE TOWN'S MAIN EMPLOYER = OVER $1 TRILLION, THAT'S A THOUSAND BILLION DOLLARS = SELF-REPLICATION OF THE TOPOLOGICAL INFORMATION = SMALL PERTURBATION OF THE CURRENT TRAJECTORY = STOCHASTIC TIME INVERTED LAGRANGIAN TRANSPORT = THE ARCHEAN AGE OF THE ANOMALIES NEEDS TO BE ESTABLISHED = THE REAL REASON THE MARKET SHOT UP 500 POINTS TODAY = TITLE 5 » PART III » SUBPART F » CHAPTER 73 » SUBCHAPTER III » § 7326 = WE MAY HAVE DESTROYED OUR VERY MEANS OF FIGHTING = WE'RE FAIRLY INSENSITIVE TO COMPUTER FAILURES.

AQ 863 = MONOPOLY ON THE LEGITIMATE USE OF PHYSICAL FORCE (AQ-469 MICHAEL WALZER, MORAL MIDGET, AQ-469 DISTINCTIONS IN THE TEXT) = ADVISORY PRESENCE IN IRAQI ARMY AND POLICE UNITS = BBC HEAVEN AND EARTH SHOW: FACTSHEET FOR SUNDAY 25 MARCH 2007 = BEAR STEARNS CFO SAYS FIRM WAS PROFITABLE IN JULY = CHANGE IN ONE'S BEHAVIOUR IN AN EMERGENCY SITUATION = FOR I AM DIVIDED FOR LOVE'S SAKE, FOR THE CHANCE OF UNION = I CAN GATHER ALL THE NEWS I NEED ON THE WEATHER REPORT = INCOMPLETE OR AT TIMES FRAGMENTARY INFORMATION = INTELLIGENCE JUDGMENTS PERTAINING TO LIKELIHOOD = PROCESSES OF CAPITAL OUTSIDE OF ITS CORRELATION = RESOLVE THE PROBLEM THROUGH DIPLOMATIC CHANNELS = TARZAN RODE, PERCHED HIGH UPON TANTOR'S MIGHTY BACK = THE JOLT EXPERIENCED BECOMES A SHOCK OF RECOGNITION = THE THEORY OF BEHAVIOR MUST BE A PSYCHOLOGICAL ONE = THERE IS A WORD TO SAY ABOUT THE HIEROPHANTIC TASK = UNPLUG THE POWER CABLES AND PLUG THEM IN NEW PLACES = WAS THE TUNGUSKA EVENT CAUSED BY TESLA'S DEATH RAY?

AQ 263 = THE USE OF FORCE = CORNU AMMONIS = MBOLE WORSHIP = THE BATTLESPACE = THE DARK VIRGIN = THE DOUBLE DIADEM.

AQ 244 = MONOPOLY ON = PIECES OF EIGHT = PATRONS OF LI = PHALLOMETRY.

AQ 236 = MONOPOLY OF = HIPPOCAMPUS = LOWER EGYPT = ‘PATAPHYSICS = SIAMESE TWIN.

AQ 254 = THE LI SYSTEM = ERVING GOFFMAN = SAMUEL BECKETT = SIX-STEP PLAN = SPLIT-DALMATIA.

AQ 232 = AMUN'S HORNS = 12-DEC-2008 FULL MOON (AQ-245 11-JAN-2009 FULL MOON, AQ-245 ACROSTIC POEM, AQ-245 BERNARD L. MADOFF) = ORACLE OF AMUN = PONZI SCHEME = STRIKE PRICE (AQ-257 SPLIT-STRIKE).

AQ 668 = SPLIT-STRIKE CONVERSION STRATEGY = HELICON, EMBLEM OF POETICAL INSPIRATION (AQ-257 MOUNT HELICON) = PROCTER'S PROCESS WILL BE FOUND BELOW.

AQ 403 = AND BURN MY SHADOW AWAY = ASYMPTOTIC ANALYSIS = CODES, NUMBER PATTERNS = ENIF, LEAPING NOSE-FIRST = DEFINING THE BATTLESPACE = LIGHT INTENSIFICATION = SPEAK OF THE DEVIL, I.E., "MATH" = UPPER AND LOWER EGYPT.

AQ 239 = UPPER EGYPT = BRAC'A PO MATERI (AQ-249 GORAN VISNJIC) = STRONG FORCE.

AQ 396 = MATERNAL HALFBROTHER = 25 DALETH. 41 VAV. 49 ZAYIN. 145 QOF. = INTENSE LUMINOSITYS = POETICAL INSPIRATION = POP OXFORD DON STYLE = SCIENCE OF ‘PATAPHYSICS.

AQ 2350 = WALKING IN SUMMER SUNSHINE IN A WHITE-WASHED PROVINCIAL VILLAGE UNDER AN INTENSE BLUE SKY, [IONESCO] WAS PROFOUNDLY ALTERED BY THE LIGHT = O EPHRAIM, WHAT SHALL I DO UNTO THEE? O JUDAH, WHAT SHALL I DO UNTO THEE? FOR YOUR *GOODNESS IS AS A MORNING **CLOUD, AND AS THE EARLY DEW IT GOETH AWAY.

AQ 481 = FLASH EVAPORATION SYSTEM = SPLIT-STRIKE CONVERSION = THE GREAT SQUARE OF PEGASUS.

AQ 359 = BATTLESTAR PEGASUS = BEKALAM: LORD OF THE LAND = HISTORY AND UTOPIA = INCISE INTO ITS CORE = THE TANTA EXPANSION = TO BLESS THE MARRIAGE (AQ-257 MANUS MARRIAGE).

AQ 111 = TA'AMIM = ALSOS (AQ-209 KALON ALSOS) = THE LEG (AQ-110 SCHEAT) = SHOES.

AQ 483 = TA'AMIM - NEKUDOT - TAGIM - OTIOT = AN ANCIENT METHOD OF WRITING = ASSAULT ON 15,000, RETRACTION TO 8,000 = CALLIMACHUS' DREAM ENCOUNTER = CIORAN'S ESSAY ON TYRANNY = OXYGEN GENERATOR SYSTEM = TA'AMIM - NEKUDOT - TAGIM - OTIOT.

AQ 843 = CANTILLATIONS - VOWEL POINTS - CROWNS - LETTERS = A + Z (LAT.) + {OMEGA} (GRK.) + {TAU} (HEB.). INITIAL AND FINAL IN 3 TONGUES.

AQ 401 = THE MBOLE ELEMENTAL GODS = FORCE TRANSFORMATION = SIGNS OF THE END OF THE AGE.

AQ 371 = ÁLURWA - ÁGER - SÁT'U - ZAQME = DALET - VAV - ZAYIN - QOPH = DEVOTEE OF THE VIRGIN = IMPROBABLY HIGH YIELD.

AQ 426 = HIGH-FLYING INVESTMENT = KERUBIC ANGEL FIRE OF EARTH = PILGRIMAGE TO VERACRUZ = SIX-PERSON CREW ON ISS = SPECULATIVE HISTORIAN.

AQ 1019 = THE DISTINCTION BETWEEN STATE OF NATURE AND CIVIL SOCIETY = WE SEE THE NOBLE EQUINE (ENIF) LEAPING NOSE-FIRST INTO THE SKY.

Anonymous said...

North, you are in fine fettle today.

P.M.Lawrence said...

As someone once said, "unhappy Mexico, so far from God, so near the United States", which I believe was cribbed from an earlier remark about Poland and Russia, just as Churchill cribbed his crack about India not being a country but merely a geographical expression like the equator from something of Metternich's about Italy. Come to think of it, there is a country called "equator" (in Spanish); suppose that they, like India and Italy, grew an identity out of that and started calling for Equator Irredentus, demanding territory all around the world at that latitude...

northanger said...

AQ 383 = EQUATOR IRREDENTUS = ALL CHANGING YIN (SIXES) = ARCHANGEL MICHAEL CROSS = COMO AGUA PARA CHOCOLATE = TYROLEAN COAT OF ARMS = WORLDLY PROTECTOR.