Mexico Mass Graves
March 26, 2015 7:17 AM   Subscribe

Hundreds of mass graves have been discovered across Mexico, but the government isn’t keeping tabs. How many clandestinely buried bodies are rotting under the country’s surface? (SLBF)
posted by josher71 (33 comments total) 13 users marked this as a favorite
 
Sometimes there's this hypothetical: What fact of our modern existence that we currently take for granted will be seen by future generations to be just as abhorrent as we now see slavery, child labor, etc.?

Here's one answer.
posted by leotrotsky at 7:32 AM on March 26, 2015 [11 favorites]


Slight derail: a reminder that you should read Roberto Bolaño's novel 2666.
posted by Fizz at 7:33 AM on March 26, 2015 [11 favorites]


For people who don't know anything about 2666, it's relevant because the fourth part of the book is a long section about the unsolved murders of women in Santa Teresa, a stand-in for Ciudad Juárez.
posted by Rustic Etruscan at 7:43 AM on March 26, 2015 [5 favorites]




Boy, is 2666 a hell of a read. It is the first thing I think of whenever I see news like this coming out of Mexico, and completely relevant. I'd actually recommend reading Bolaño's The Savage Detectives first before tackling 2666, just to get context for the latter achievement.
posted by Mothlight at 8:09 AM on March 26, 2015 [5 favorites]


This desperately needs political attention here in the United States, but what are the options? Our current half-measures of regulation (and enforcement) of the drug trade are to blame for this horrid injustice to the south. Will we only learn when we have a totally failed state or a narco-state on our border? Sowing revolution abroad is fun and games for the neocons in both parties, but wait until it's next door.

And this frequently gets overlooked but, until we get it figured out politically, if you are in the United States using drugs that originate from or pass through Mexico, your 'harmless' act of 'civil disobedience, man' on this side of the border (or whatever you have to tell yourself) is directly responsible for the crimes on that side of the border.
posted by resurrexit at 8:11 AM on March 26, 2015 [20 favorites]


Good God. Mexico's long national nightmare goes on.

I worry that--one of these weeks--while we're all distracted by events happening in the Middle East and Asia, a real black swan event will suddenly make the Mexico situation priority #1 for the USA.
posted by General Tonic at 8:12 AM on March 26, 2015


The number of mass graves seems like a really weird number to focus on, rather than the number of bodies found, or people missing and assumed dead. They are looking at the right issue, but focusing in not quite the right way.

It's a terrible situation and there are so many people who are complicit. I am sure there will never be a full accounting.
posted by Dip Flash at 8:15 AM on March 26, 2015


This desperately needs political attention here in the United States, but what are the options? Our current half-measures of regulation (and enforcement) of the drug trade are to blame for this horrid injustice to the south.

Describing the American state's notoriously draconian war on drugs and the Mexican state's open war on the cartels, with which the former assists the latter, as half-measures, strikes me as odd. What more would you have the American state do?
posted by Rustic Etruscan at 8:29 AM on March 26, 2015 [4 favorites]


What more would you have the American state do?

Stop making war against a section of it's own citizens who actually need help and understanding, and in the process enabling vast profits for the cartels, which makes this sort of thing inevitable? Might be an idea.
posted by walrus at 8:33 AM on March 26, 2015 [2 favorites]


I mean, one might have thought something could have been learned from the disaster of prohibition ...
posted by walrus at 8:35 AM on March 26, 2015


Stop making war against a section of it's own citizens who actually need help and understanding, and in the process enabling vast profits for the cartels, which make this sort of thing inevitable? Might be an idea.

That's closer to what I'd like to see, but I don't think that was the gist of resurrexit's comment. I may have misinterpreted, and if so, I apologize, but I thought the implication was that American law enforcement and the Mexican army weren't cracking down hard enough on the illegal drug trade, which I think is bananas.
posted by Rustic Etruscan at 8:41 AM on March 26, 2015 [3 favorites]


Yes, sorry, I wasn't pointing my comment at you Rustic Etruscan. I don't think the answer is as simple as blaming substance abuse on the victims of Western drug policy though, and that's what I took away from the comment you replied to.
posted by walrus at 8:46 AM on March 26, 2015


In the future, it would probably be better to direct sarcasm to the point you're actually directing it to.

My question was in earnest. I'm basically an ignorant schmuck, so it's likely that I've missed interesting arguments for even stronger anti-drug countermeasures in America as a way of fighting violence in Mexico, whether or not I find them convincing. It's also possible that I misinterpreted resurrexit's point. With that, I'll stop commenting so much in this thread.
posted by Rustic Etruscan at 9:02 AM on March 26, 2015


I am interested in the idea that demand side could be influenced by the horrors supply side thinking has caused.
posted by Samuel Farrow at 9:09 AM on March 26, 2015


What more would you have the American state do?


Repeal NAFTA.
posted by ennui.bz at 9:11 AM on March 26, 2015 [2 favorites]


In the future, it would probably be better to direct sarcasm to the point you're actually directing it to.

My question was in earnest.


My answer was as earnest as your question, but sure.
posted by walrus at 9:16 AM on March 26, 2015


Repeal NAFTA.

I'd be interested to see you pencil out how the repeal of NAFTA would somehow destroy the drug trade in Mexico.
posted by yoink at 9:27 AM on March 26, 2015 [2 favorites]


until we get it figured out politically, if you are in the United States using drugs that originate from or pass through Mexico, your 'harmless' act of 'civil disobedience, man' on this side of the border (or whatever you have to tell yourself) is directly responsible for the crimes on that side of the border.


Way to give the politicians a brush over and lay the heavy guilt on me for enjoying an occasional smoke.


Our national drug policies are the problem. Not my occasional joint
posted by notreally at 9:56 AM on March 26, 2015 [6 favorites]


I'd be interested to see you pencil out how the repeal of NAFTA would somehow destroy the drug trade in Mexico.

I am no expert on NAFTA, so some of this could be way off base (and I am sure people will chime in in that case), but...

An outcome of NAFTA is light manufacturing jobs moving out of the USA and into Mexico, which had the ironic effect of hurting both workers in the USA and domestic manufacturing in Mexico (while things were being built in Mexico, it did not offset the jobs lost as Mexican industries scaled back and closed since they couldn't compete with larger companies to the north). At the same time, Mexican agriculture has suffered, and agricultural wages especially depressed. As a result, workers are driven into low-pay jobs in the new factories or migrant labor in the USA. Or, they can work in the illegal drug industry which, although more violent, offers at least the illusion of a greater pay out. Simultaneously, lost tax revenue makes it harder for the Mexican government to address all its domestic issues.

Now, I doubt repealing NAFTA would magically put things back to their old state, but it would probably improve Mexico's economy, which would likely hurt the gangs and the "shadow economy." It could do the same to the similar organizations on the northern side of the border by moving money back from large corporations to the workers.



while simultaneously damaging Mexico's domestic industries (farming seems to have taken quite the hit, with drastically depressed wages, for example, and I seem to recall Mexico-based light manufacturing failing as Mexican companies are no longer able to compete with goods from the USA (some, ironically, made in Mexico)). The resultant loss of jobs and wages make the illegal drug industry vastly more appealing, even as reduced tax revenues to the Mexican government make domestic counter-gang activities much more difficult.
posted by GenjiandProust at 10:05 AM on March 26, 2015 [1 favorite]


directly responsible for the crimes on that side of the border

No, not at all, I am not a builder of this police state and refuse to take any responsibility for this farce.
posted by Meatbomb at 10:10 AM on March 26, 2015 [2 favorites]


Poverty is such an abusive state, creating a mass living grave, people are left to recognise each other only as survivors, and go on. The parody of corrupt, bungling cops, was a cover for a considerably more dread reality. We Americans have it so much better, even with homegrown police malfeasance. We look at the grim details of the trade, and the general way life works in other societies, and get all ewww! Then WE go off and kill what 100,000 Iraqis for what? Then still get all ewww!

Legalize all of it, and put those cartels out of business, but not before we put our own evil out of business. All this hand wringing over someone else's status quo. We are just co-dependant with them, what was that article today, the DEA and cartel prostitutes? Mass graves are always a sign of massive, mulit-layered, multinational, corruption. You have to erase the economic reward and driver.
posted by Oyéah at 10:33 AM on March 26, 2015 [2 favorites]


Our national drug policies are the problem. Not my occasional joint.

Can't it be both? Yes, both The US and Mexican drug and crime policies are a big problem. But in my opinion so are the thousands of "occasional joint" users who fail to see how they are contributing to the drug market.
posted by CrazyLemonade at 1:07 PM on March 26, 2015 [2 favorites]


Can't it be both? Yes, both The US and Mexican drug and crime policies are a big problem. But in my opinion so are the thousands of "occasional joint" users who fail to see how they are contributing to the drug market.

Just like how the 'occasional whiskey' users were partially responsible for the gangland murders during the prohibition! Oh wait.
posted by FatherDagon at 1:22 PM on March 26, 2015 [3 favorites]


Just like how the 'occasional whiskey' users were partially responsible for the gangland murders during the prohibition! Oh wait.

They weren't? Just because prohibition was bad policy why does that exonerate individuals from funding criminal organizations? No doubt we can all imagine a world in which diamonds are mined in sustainable ways by well-regulated businesses that adequately remunerate their workers and invest their profits in ethically sound ways. Does that exonerate me from a moral obligation not to buy blood diamonds? ("Hey, I just want the diamond--it's not my fault the profits go to war lords!"). We can all imagine a world with a well-regulated sustainable ivory trade too--so I guess that exonerates me from any ethical obligation not to buy ivory--right?
posted by yoink at 1:32 PM on March 26, 2015 [6 favorites]


Just because prohibition was bad policy why does that exonerate individuals from funding criminal organizations?

This is what I'm thinking too. No matter what your personal politics are, buying illegal drugs funds criminal organizations.
posted by CrazyLemonade at 1:52 PM on March 26, 2015 [2 favorites]


No matter what your personal politics are, buying illegal drugs funds criminal organizations.

and banks!
posted by kokaku at 2:18 PM on March 26, 2015 [5 favorites]


> No matter what your personal politics are, buying illegal drugs funds criminal organizations.

This is a tautology, isn't it? You can't buy illegal drugs from non-criminal organizations by definition... it really depends on what else the criminal organization does aside from breaking drug laws.

If you as a consumer tried to avoid patronizing criminal organizations, even just ones whose wanton criminality causes avoidable death, you might be hard-put to do so.

Please remember that even white collar crimes committed a huge scale have huge consequences... the World Bank, hardly wild-eyed radicals, claim that the Global Financial Crisis caused 50,000 excess deaths and most of those were nasty, miserable, and avoidable deaths involving unemployment, destitution, and homelessness. (World Bank site is currently down, this search is the one I use to find this paper.)

My experience in this field over decades has been extremely good - a nicer, more ethical bunch of people I could not find in any other field. I've had more errors due to Dunning-Kruger than rip-offs, by far - and nearly none of either. If cable companies were as honest and competent, the world would be a better place.

Of course, this is only my local level... and I have a fairly good idea where geographically it'd be coming from (North, not South).
posted by lupus_yonderboy at 4:10 PM on March 26, 2015 [2 favorites]


World bank link.
posted by lupus_yonderboy at 4:18 PM on March 26, 2015


"We can all imagine a world with a well-regulated sustainable ivory trade too--so I guess that exonerates me from any ethical obligation not to buy ivory--right?"

Well, couple reasons: First, it's a legitimate liberty to drink or do drugs, so restricting them and forcing the legitimate freedom of imbibing underground is what causes the gangsterism. People pretty broadly have a right to alter their consciousnesses, which puts the onus back on the prohibition in a way that's not there for ivory or diamonds. Further, despite you dismissing the idea of e.g. diamonds being produced in an ethical way, there is a pretty reasonable way to procure those (e.g. Canada) making them more similar to weed than raw ivory.

Second, the link between the actor and the harm is so weak and tertiary that it's individually negligible. Here, the ivory you cited works against your point like the diamonds did. While the market for legal ivory antiques (CITES) does help support the market for poached, illegal ivory, it'd be absurd to make a policy that people shouldn't buy e.g. old pianos or scrimshaw. People may choose to not buy it if they don't feel comfortable with it, but simply supporting a market does not entail total ethical responsibility for the outcomes of that market, but rather responsibility to the extent that the individual's actions further the harms associated.

Blaming occasional joint smokers for contributing to the drug murders in Mexico is like blaming mixtape makers for the collapse of the music industry. At best it's an unworkable standard; at worst it distracts from policy changes that could be taken to actually mitigate the harms.

(In fact, I'd wager that the computers that we're typing on have caused more harm to people than the occasional joint smoking has. While that gives us an obligation to lobby for policy changes to make computing greener, it doesn't mean we should mothball our laptops.)
posted by klangklangston at 8:08 PM on March 26, 2015 [5 favorites]


See lots of self-justifying comments but the fact is - drugs fuel crime. Maybe you don't like it, but complaining about the lack of options does nothing to modify the fact that when you buy illegal drugs here in the US it fuels murder.

Say what you want - the people are just as dead, and they don't care about your personal freedom. Whether you choose to accept it or not - the bullets in their bodies were purchased with your drug dollars.
posted by lon_star at 8:20 AM on March 27, 2015


This idea that drugs fuel crime is nonsense, it's the insane drug policies which create the black market, the deaths from adulterated substances, the deaths from sharp profiteering and the misery of addicts forced into crime to fuel the resulting exorbitant prices.

Take away the illegality and all of the above stops right away, and furthermore we can begin to help people out of the mess they are in instead of victimising, criminalising and demonising them.

The war on drugs is evil, and the results speak for themselves.
posted by walrus at 4:13 PM on March 27, 2015


"See lots of self-justifying comments but the fact is - drugs fuel crime. "

Try not just seeing them, but also reading them!

"Maybe you don't like it, but complaining about the lack of options does nothing to modify the fact that when you buy illegal drugs here in the US it fuels murder."

Really? When I buy weed from a dispensary, it's fueling murder? How much murder? Like, is it a murder per gram? Per kilo? How about pills? I knew a guy who had a hookup with a dodgy doctor for oxy. Is that a murder per pill? How, exactly, were those folks getting murdered? Where's the causal chain there? Just a free-floating murder daemon, striking down with impunity?

But hell, let's say somebody buys a gram of coke. Let's say that's $50. How many murders is that? Is it more people than who die from preventable auto accidents? Does driving cars fuel murder?

"Say what you want - the people are just as dead, and they don't care about your personal freedom. Whether you choose to accept it or not - the bullets in their bodies were purchased with your drug dollars."

Again, how many bullets are we talking here? Does every bullet kill someone? Do dealers set aside a certain percentage of their profits for bullets? Do they have a bullet jar? Do you think they put a dollar in it every time they sell a dimebag? How does that compare to the number of human-years burning a gallon of gas costs?

When I buy a Biggie CD, how many people am I responsible for murdering? Surely, some dealers have to be encouraged and edified by his music, pushing them to commit crimes they wouldn't have otherwise. How about Coca Cola? Their South American factories have pretty notorious labor records, including implication in the murder of labor activists.

Just trying to get clear on what, exactly, you're saying, since it sounds like a sliver of truth spun out into a vast demagogic fantasy. And since that demagogic fantasy also ends up supporting a policy that gets people murdered, I just want to know how we stack up.
posted by klangklangston at 5:29 PM on March 27, 2015 [1 favorite]


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