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Mexican gubernatorial candidate assassinated
June 28, 2010 10:50 AM   Subscribe

Rodolfo Torre Cantu, the Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI) candidate for the governorship of the border state of Tamaulipas, was assassinated in an ambush yesterday. He was presumed to be the virtual winner of next sundays election (no opposition candidate has ever governed the state).
posted by Omon Ra (28 comments total) 4 users marked this as a favorite

 
Damn it.

.


Are there any lessons to be learned from the Mob's domination of some parts of Italian society, including assassinations of government officials and candidates? Could any of the ways they dealt with these things be applied in Mexico? I have pursued drug legalization and other things here North of the border to try to reduce my country's contribution to the problems down there but I don't know how successful we're going to be with that.
posted by XMLicious at 10:56 AM on June 28, 2010


Yikes.
posted by AdamCSnider at 11:08 AM on June 28, 2010


This is some depressing shit right here.
posted by Aizkolari at 11:30 AM on June 28, 2010


Also,

.
posted by Aizkolari at 11:30 AM on June 28, 2010


I don't know the Italian example very well XMLicious. What is troubling is that the violence is escalating and it doesn't seem to end. It's as if the cartels were emboldened to go further and further with every act. They've targeted schools, thrown grenades at parades, kidnapped a former senator and presidential candidate, killed the entire population of a half-way house for recovering addicts, etc.

As little as a year ago I scoffed at the notion that the country was turning into Colombia, now I'm not so sure. It's bewildering and stunning, and I worry that we as a society are becoming desensitized to the horror.

A couple of weeks ago, I was driving through an very busy 8 lane street and traffic started to slow down. In the back of my head I was already planning what to do in the event that the cars had been held because of a cartel-barricade-shootout (this happened to some friends of mine). In the end nothing came of it, but I find it appalling that one internalizes paranoia to such a degree.
posted by Omon Ra at 11:33 AM on June 28, 2010 [4 favorites]


That's some brazen shit right there.
posted by birdherder at 11:34 AM on June 28, 2010


Sergio "El Shaka" Vega, a well-known Mexican "narcocorridos" singer, was also killed this weekend, hours after dispelling rumors of his own death.
posted by phaedon at 11:36 AM on June 28, 2010


Stainless Steel Rat for President!
posted by DU at 11:39 AM on June 28, 2010 [2 favorites]


I can't help but think that anything that kills off PRI politicians and banda musicians can't be entirely bad...

On the serious side, I think the whole "Mexico is turning into Colombia" thing is both exaggerated and not. Mexico is a huge country, almost quarter the size of the US, and twice the size of Colombia. Some areas are definitely turning a bit unmanageable, and then there are other places, like here in Mexico City, where it's had hardly any impact at all. It's all very local, and much like the zapatistas of the nineties didn't mean Mexico was turning into El Salvador, this doesn't mean Mexico is turning into Colombia.
posted by Joakim Ziegler at 11:45 AM on June 28, 2010


Are there any lessons to be learned from the Mob's domination of some parts of Italian society, including assassinations of government officials and candidates? Could any of the ways they dealt with these things be applied in Mexico?

My understanding is that, unfortunately, the period in the 20th century the mafia were most on the back foot was when the Facists were in power, since Mussolini was determined to eradicate competing sources of influence in Italian society.

This does not seem to be a model to emulate.
posted by rodgerd at 11:47 AM on June 28, 2010


I was living in Tijuana when Colosio was assassinated. They shut down the border. The state government was PAN so the suspicions were that the PAN had orchestrated the assassination. In the immediate aftermath, the Federales had Aburto (Colosio's assassin) in their grasp, guns pointed at his head. The State Police too, were holding onto Aburto. Neither party would allow the other to "claim" the prisoner for fear that he would end up dead or missing. The compromise was that each vehicle would hold one state police officer and one federal officer, with guns drawn. That caravan would go to the state police station together. Crazy stuff that. A friend of mine was the Ombudsman for the state and he said that there were more than a few discrepancies. There were rumors that the narcotraffickers were somehow involved, with subplots involving the chief of police being assassinated shortly thereafter. Again, it was crazy to be in.

Poor Mexico: So far from God, so close to the United States.
posted by zerobyproxy at 11:48 AM on June 28, 2010 [3 favorites]


More than 25,000 people have been killed in drug violence since President Felipe Calderon took office in late 2006.

Wow. That's stunning.
posted by Brak at 12:05 PM on June 28, 2010


Yep Joakim, I used to think exactly the same thing: the Colombia analogy is off base. It's obviously an imperfect fit, much like the war in Vietnam is to Afghanistan, but some salient points, like an increase in the brutality and of the scope of the violence is not. And how local is it? I live in Monterrey, in one of the richest areas of the country, and not 10 blocks from where I live a police commissioner was assassinated. My 80 year old grandmother and an aunt have bee threatened by phone. Two students of the university where I studied bleed to death inside the campus because of a gun battle raging outside the university.
posted by Omon Ra at 12:07 PM on June 28, 2010 [1 favorite]


omonra: "Yep Joakim, I used to think exactly the same thing: the Colombia analogy is off base. It's obviously an imperfect fit, much like the war in Vietnam is to Afghanistan, but some salient points, like an increase in the brutality and of the scope of the violence is not. And how local is it? I live in Monterrey, in one of the richest areas of the country, and not 10 blocks from where I live a police commissioner was assassinated. My 80 year old grandmother and an aunt have bee threatened by phone. Two students of the university where I studied bleed to death inside the campus because of a gun battle raging outside the university."

Monterrey is still kind of northern and provincial, though (I hope this doesn't offend your local pride). Northern Mexico is, of course, where it's most noticeable, but for instance here in Mexico City, home to some 20-25% of the population, we've seen very little of it. It seems to be limited to areas close to the US border, and areas where drug cultivation is common.

Not that it's a trivial problem, of course, but it's quite regional in scope, and the increase in violence is largely a result of Calderón's idiotic drug war policies, which have been more successful at violating people's human rights than at actually permanently fixing anything.
posted by Joakim Ziegler at 12:17 PM on June 28, 2010


Mano, mil gracias por el post. Mira tú, que me vengo a enterar de esto por Metafilter, de entre todos los lugares... pero eso sí, para el futbol estamos buenos...

[fl;du: Thanks for posting this]
posted by omegar at 12:17 PM on June 28, 2010 [1 favorite]


Poor Mexico: So far from God, so close to the United States.

what?
posted by ts;dr at 12:52 PM on June 28, 2010


Porfirio_Díaz had a neat turn of phrase
"a dog with a bone neither barks nor bites"
posted by adamvasco at 1:03 PM on June 28, 2010


The violence took a sharp uptick after the start of the Merida initiative, a joint compaign
between the US Government and the Mexican Government.

Is it any surprise that the death toll from drug violence greatly increases after the military
is involved, and after over a billion dollars in military aid is provided?

But it's not working. Mexican metamphetamine has displaced the American-made product
in an increasing number of markets (National Methamphetamine Threat Assessment 2010).
Black tar heroin is expanding into new markets (2009 National Drug Threat Assessment).

In the past, I suspect that drug cartels would just buy politicians: most of them seem pretty
cheap. Now they're killing them. I'll argue that a live, corrupt politician is better than a dead
candidate. When you start murdering candidates, the pool of acceptable politicians is going
to shrink down to people are closer to the business, perhaps cartel members themselves.

The only way to stop an honest person is to corrupt them, or to kill them.
posted by the Real Dan at 1:11 PM on June 28, 2010 [1 favorite]


ts;dr, I've been hearing that phrase for a long time, too, albeit in the original Spanish (tan lejos the Dios, etc.). I think it's a comment on the Special Relationship Mexico and the U.S. have had over the years. Probably a little gallows humor as well. Mexicans go with dark humor a lot.
posted by Gilbert at 1:17 PM on June 28, 2010


My understanding is that, unfortunately, the period in the 20th century the mafia were most on the back foot was when the Facists were in power, since Mussolini was determined to eradicate competing sources of influence in Italian society.

This does not seem to be a model to emulate.
Or like Berlusconi today.
posted by delmoi at 1:27 PM on June 28, 2010


ts;dr: what?

It's a quote attributed to the President of Mexico, Porfirio Díaz
posted by mullingitover at 1:29 PM on June 28, 2010


the Real Dan nailed it.

There are also some fundamental issues about systemic corruption in Mexico that most U.S. Americans simply don't grasp. Also, U.S. Americans don't understand the poverty in Mexico is not like poverty in the U.S. Many Mexicans are truly desperate to provide a decent living for their families.

The amount of money at stake in the drug trade is incomprehensibly large relative to the living that the average Mexican makes. Of course, most Mexicans are not involved at all - but it makes a huge contribution to many local and regional economies. Imagine a "War on Corn" here in the United States.

Most people don't like violence. Not even the narcotrafficantes. But they are desperate. It's an oversimplification to say that the solution is legalization - but how long has it been in the United States since alcohol smugglers gunned down a rival or a public official?
posted by Xoebe at 3:42 PM on June 28, 2010 [1 favorite]


This is going to spread, and it is going to spread north of the border to a much greater degree than in heretofore has. Posters have commented on the complex problems of American demand, Mexican poverty, etc. Mexico is corrupt. It's police forces are not to be trusted; nor are many of its politicians. As this problem grows in Mexico (I see nothing stopping it), it's easy to imagine dual force efforts with American troops and or clandestine operators going on seek-and-destroy missions to eliminate the 'enemy'. That said, in a way, the enemy is us, and the rest of the world with its insatiable demand for illicit drugs.

The very fabric of world culture is going through a reorganization, as we write and speak. Criminals don't have heavy bureaucracy to slow them down; they can turn on a dime; they don't have identifiable places of central administration to attack; they are largely distributed and decentralized. We're going to have to hunt them down like a pack of rats and exterminate them. At the same time, we're going to have to start compelling the Mexican government to clean up its act.

Eventually, if this isn't done, we're going to see a national security threat to the US appear. Frug money has a unique way of finding its way into legitimate activities. South America is still the "wild, wild, west" in many ways. We'd better start paying serious attention to this problem, far more serious than we have, to date. The hammer needs to come down, now.
posted by Vibrissae at 5:28 PM on June 28, 2010


Joakim Ziegler, I don't think it's that limited to the north. Have you seen the violence in Mexico State? Guerrero? the grenade attacks were in Michoacán. The small war with the Triqui ethnic group in Oaxaca, is also partly drug related. I agree DF is not as affected (I lived there for about 6 years), but lot of senior executives in DF have bodyguards to avoid being kidnapped. Remember Fernando Marti? People from DF (in my opinion) have internalized violence and caos to such an extent that they don't notice it as much.

A year and a half ago, people in Monterrey would say: "that's only in the border, that will never happen here". Well it's not happening here. I remember, when this all began, that I talked to the president of a Mexican media conglomerate about the growth in violence. He dismissed it as infighting between cartels, which did not involve civilians. Well now it involves civilians. It now feels like a very ugly cancer.

----------

Corruption is one thing, but I also think that Mexican society has failed and cast aside far too many people. A living wage is one thing that's needed, but also a way of making the foot soldiers in this war believe that they can be productive members of society.
posted by Omon Ra at 5:44 PM on June 28, 2010 [1 favorite]


OT, Joakim you wrote: Monterrey is still kind of northern and provincial. It doesn't offend me, but that's your opinion, not mine. I'm curious. What do you consider a non-provincial city in Mexico other than DF? Monterrey has a population of 3 million people, heavy industry, multinational conglomerates, an international airport with direct flights to Europe, etc. What's provincial about it? It's a bit like saying that Chicago is provincial, because it's not New York.
posted by Omon Ra at 8:32 PM on June 28, 2010


omonra: "OT, Joakim you wrote: Monterrey is still kind of northern and provincial.What do you consider a non-provincial city in Mexico other than DF? Monterrey has a population of 3 million people, heavy industry, multinational conglomerates, an international airport with direct flights to Europe, etc. What's provincial about it? It's a bit like saying that Chicago is provincial, because it's not New York."

I'm actually not sure there are other non-provincial cities in Mexico. For instance, on the list of World Cities, Mexico City is listed as an Alpha World City-, while Monterrey isn't listed at all.

Note that I said "northern and provincial", though. I actually think the northern part is more important in this context.
posted by Joakim Ziegler at 9:34 PM on June 28, 2010


I agree with you in that income disparities are the main problem, though.

I spent a month working in Cananea, Sonora, some 50 kilometers from the US border, about a year ago, and people there were telling me how the drug trade really moved in after the mining strikes shut down the mines, and people were effectively jobless after several years on strike. Apparently, lots of people had turned to working in drug trafficking, and there had been several incidents between rival cartels, something that was totally unknown before.

So there's definitely a lot of people being recruited because they effectively have no other option.

But even there, the violence was largely limited to people involved with the drug trade (and the police). There had been one or two incidents of kidnappings, although it was unclear whether or not the victims had somehow been involved with the cartels. I did definitely get the impression that people who were not involved didn't feel particularly threatened, though, even though there had been shootings in that relatively small town.
posted by Joakim Ziegler at 9:43 PM on June 28, 2010


Vibrissae wrote:...we're going to have to start compelling the Mexican government to clean up its act.

Please tell me that the "we" in your sentence isn't the United States. Unless by "clean up" you mean sweep under the rug any corruption that can't be properly institutionalized.
posted by Goofyy at 4:43 AM on June 30, 2010


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