Monday, August 2, 2010

Narcos in the neighborhood

About a week ago, La Jornada, Mexico's main left-leaning paper (think The Nation, but a daily and quite a bit more credible in terms of investigative journalism and with a much larger and more varied readership) published an editorial that again raised the whole "failed state" debate I mentioned previously. The recent massacre of seventeen people in Torreon, Durango, apparently committed by inmates from a local prison who were permitted under the cover of darkness to leave the facility and use state-owned vehicles and the weapons of their own prison guards to carry out the killings raises serious questions about Mexico's penal system and its penetration by the narcos (apparently this kind of thing goes on all the time). In true La Jornada style, the editorial pointed out, quite rightly, that the prison system also suffers from serious problems with human rights abuses, so that the overall perception of the penal system is one that the paper characterized as "extreme weakness." A few days later, the headlines in all of the major papers trumpeted the news of the killing of two major figures in the Sinaloa cartel in neighborhoods uncomfortable close to our soon-to-be home. So while the Mexican state may indeed be on the ropes, it is by no means a complete failure, but as public opinion increasingly leans toward the consensus that the war is futile and endless, I'm just hoping that the gunfire will have abated by the time we hit town.

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