Monday, March 30, 2009

Poor, bloody Mexico

Last week I went down to LA to visit family and to see the special exhibit on the Mexican Revolution running at the Autry National Center of the American West.

The exhibit was a fascinating, colorful depiction of the social and cultural impact — on both sides of the border — of the 1910-1920 revolution that convulsed Mexico, killing more than a million people and displacing millions of others (the first wave of massive Mexican immigration into the U.S.).

As my family walked among the George Yepes paintings and film clips of Pancho Villa and Emiliano Zapata, it was impossible to avoid linking the tumult of the Revolution to the drug civil war ravaging the country today.

I have fond memories of camping with my brother in the hills of Baja California, heading down at dawn into a little fishing village, heading out in pangas to fish the reefs. My wife and I would love to do the Copper Canyon tour.

But right now, I just can’t justify the risk of going to Mexico. I know that the violence is mainly confined to certain zones and that other areas remain relatively safe. But the violence is getting worse and Americans make good kidnapping targets. I won’t put my family at that risk.

I don’t know if I’ll ever be able to go there again. Sad.

If you’re interested in reading about the drug trade in Mexico and on the border, Charles Bowden is brilliant, both on the reporting end and as a vivid, almost poetic writer. Sometimes a novel provides as much education about a subject as history or journalism. Don Winslow’s “The Power of the Dog” is a harrowing but absolutely engrossing thriller set during the ’70s and ’80s when the Mexican cartels were setting up their pipeline for Columbian cocaine.

When the Caribbean route into Florida started getting dicey (all that Miami Vice attention), the route into the U.S. shifted to Mexico and a bunch of smalltimers got big really fast.

Now they’re in a death struggle with the Mexican army and among themselves. Mexico is bleeding and on fire and the flames are licking at the U.S.
Just like the bad old days.

Jim Cornelius, Editor


  1. Jim - just imagine how bad it is going to get as Cantrell (and other oil fields) continue to decline in production and the Mexican Government has even less money to take care of its people and attempt to enforce drug laws.


  2. Well remembered Oregonian Colonel Rex Applegate, member of the WW2 OSS and long time consultant to the U.S. government on the subject of Mexico - warned those who would listen about the firestorm Mexico would become.

    If he was listened to by those who sought out his expertise, little action to heed the colonel's warnings were taken.

    The country's spiraling poverty, obese corruption at the highest levels, and inability (without massive amounts of U.S. aid and training)to maintain order, much less peace, sends its people north (few Mexicans seek asylum / improvement in their lives by fleeing south into Guatamala...whose border police shoot first and ask no questions).

    Mexican drug cartel violence rivals that of Columbia's. Unlike Columbia, Mexico and the United States share a common border and this hyper violence is spilling over onto U.S. soil in a frothy red flood of brutality and hubris.

    The Mexican Government is incapable, as is the Columbian Government, of having a meaningful impact on its serious crime issues. The United States must protect its side of the border and the U.S. citizens who are directly affected by a failed southern neighbor whose rich history is, sadly, stained by those who would make Mexico a kleptocracy.