Prologue to Charles Bowden Video Presentation
This following video was made June of 2011. A lot has happened since then, little of it good. Many curious things are going on in Mexico, and Charles Bowden covers some of them in his talk to the Commonwealth of California. Reportage has been scarce and poor and done mostly second hand; mostly because of the extreme danger involved in talking and dealing with the criminal organizations of Mexico. Mexican reporters and organizations have been notorious in the past for taking government pay-offs, Now add to that very real death threats that have come to pass that have taken the lives of many reporters, and people have learned not to dig too deep, or even scratch the surface for that matter. The other problem here on getting the truth out is the infinite complexity of a five, or 8 way conflict with always shifting alliances, loyalties and intentions. Mix it all up with a boatload of traicion ( backstabbing). It’s like reporting on the movements of a slithering barrel of vipers. Makes for slippery reporting of infinite complexity.
Government, police and military are only slightly less intimidating to free speech as the cartels are…many times they are the cartels, or are working hand in glove with them. And as for American mainstream media, definitely one must look elsewhere for the hard questions. Bowden is different, he has spent years in Mexico interviewing everyone, risking his life, and being unflinchingly honest. He’s sold some books and is one of the most respected journalists in America. In this presentation he underscores the utter failure of American policy concerning the war on drugs and on “Free Trade.” After years of this disastrous policy I’ve come to many of the same conclusions myself. One thing of note; Bowden is somewhat perplexed himself about the incredible savagery and violence that is going into the cartel wars. It is like a slasher film festival come to life to the power of a billion. I think what we have is a perfect storm brought on by
1. Historical precedent…Mexican Police have used torture for confessions in lieu of real police work for many a decade. Criminals imitate what the powers above them do, and soon it becomes a race to be who can be most savage.
2. A culture of death…The cult of La Santa Muerte is extant all over Mexico. She is the female version of the grim reaper. The thinking goes, who wins in the end? Always death. Maybe by serving her I can get out of the consequences of my evil actions. I dislike critiquing anyone’s religion. But this is not how it works.
3. Of course in any massive, ongoing criminal action there will be disputes and power struggles, and there is always bloodshed. The various mafias around the world try to hold down the violence so as not to draw attention to themselves. In Mexico’s case the cartels don’t seem to care.The US Kingpin policy of decapitating leadership only allows younger, more inexperienced, foolish and violent capos to take the reins. And by never allowing any one organization to establish dominance, chaos is the only true winner. Wars for the plaza never end.
4. Something no one ever mentions , except for Bowden in this video: The war against the poor and dispossessed. Army and police in Mexico are mercenaries in their own land. Essentially they work for the highest bidder. Or in some famous cases, if they feel the people being slaughtered are not worthwhile saving, they wait until the metralletas and the cuernos de chiva (machine guns and AK-47’s) have finished with their song, then they go in to count the bodies. The same thing occurs here as well. If there is a massacre going on the Swat team may take it’s sweet time to show up. Just why all this occurs is another column itself. But the days when one cop with a revolver would take on anything or anyhone to save an innocent life are long gone.
5. The inexperience of the Mexican DTO’s. (drug trafficking organizations). Unlike the Sicilian Mafia or Chinese Tongs, or the Japanese Yakuza, high dollar large scale organized crime did not get started in Mexico until the 1980’s. Before that it was a variety of smuggling gangs, and no one could get the upper hand in any one plaza as the dollar return was not high enough, and the market had not grown to what it is today. Mexican DTO’s can act like very, very naughty children and like children do not really look out for long term consequences to their actions. And when 90% of all illegal drugs pass through Mexico, there is really something to fight about here.
There is a lot of speculation here, but sometimes that’s what we have when peering into a mystery. One thing that is safe to assume is that the drug warrior Calderon is a puppet. Any one that is looking can see the strings, or the hand up his backside. Same for Obama, and Bush before him. Are all these leaders just stupid, or are thy evil? That’s where people divide on their opinion.
Bowden does downplay “spillover violence.” But a lot has happened in a year. It is coming. Big time spillover violence is just a few degrees off boil, and they are turning up the heat. Of course Mexico does not exist in a vacuum. Many say that the US and Mexico are both marked for take down and eventual merger. As it is said, it’s a long way down to the bottom of the rabbit hole.
If you want to know what is going on with our most important and at the same time, most denigrated and ignored neighbor, this presentation is well worth watching.
Born in Houston, Texas and moved to Raymondvile, Texas in 1969. Family bought a radio station and helped with the family business until it was sold in 1997. Since then started an agency and mostly writes about experiences in Deep South Texas. Writers of the Rio Grande founder, editor and contributing author.