Monday, February 21, 2011
In the last few weeks, Guadalajara has experienced its fist narcoblockades, a grenade attack in a bar on one of the city's main thoroughfares that killed six, a shooting last night in a hotel just down the street from that same bar that killed three, and in addition to the usual murders among low-level gang members, the killing of two lawyers. The first lawyer, the brother of the Secretary General of the municipality of Guadalajara, was carrying a briefcase with approximately US$4,000 when he was executed, while the other was the son of the head of the department of transparency in the municipality of Tonala. There appears to have been some relation between the two, but the press has so far not been able to shed much light on the case. Add the videos, really press releases, sent to El Blog del Narco (this site is not for the faint-hearted and the ads are likewise offensive, so visitors beware) sent by the Cartel Jalisco Nueva Generacion and countered with another clip issued by their rivals, La Resistencia MFG (Milenio Familia Golfo) in which public figures are named and threatened for their complicity with one or the other of said groups, it's been a rough couple of weeks here in Guadalajara. While life goes on as before for most residents, there is a nervousness in the city about what these events signal for its future. All we are lacking is a rash of kidnappings (which will focus on local business people, politicians, government officials, and/or their relatives) and GDL will start to look very much like Monterrey a year or so ago.
Saturday, February 19, 2011
You might think, when first reading the headline that the Mexican army confiscated approximately five tons of marijuana in a small town in northern Jalisco without making a single arrest, that this incident is just another example of the impunity that characterizes this nation's judicial system. But read further, and you will discover that much of the pot was handed over voluntarily by the town's 200 residents. The general in charge of the operation was forced to admit that he could not arrest virtually the entire pueblo, and that given the limited economic opportunities in this region, the practice of growing the drug crop was widespread. These farmers ultimately are making the same kind of rational economic decisions that their counterparts in Colombia, Peru and Bolivia (and many other parts of the world) have made, growing the commercial crop, be it pot, poppy, or coca, that holds the best promise of allowing their families to overcome the vicious poverty of subsistence agriculture. Are they criminals? That's a tough call, given their choices.
Thursday, February 3, 2011
Guadalajara awoke Wednesday morning to the nightmarish news that perhaps seven narcobloqueos and grenade and molotov cocktail attacks had occurred during the previous night. Speculation about the provocations of such actions on the part of the gang known as La Resistencia run the gamut from the extradition of Lobo Valencia to anger at a recent drug bust at the airport or the detention of nearly a dozen members of said gang to the nasty but possibly credible accusation, made by Resistencia gang members themselves, that the government has pursued them while protecting members of a rival cartel. The hastily called meeting of municipal and state leaders on Wednesday morning revealed the extent to which the metropolitan and Jalisciense leadership has been snoozing, on the take, or perhaps just in denial. Yet anyone who can read a newspaper, and certainly those living in the neighborhoods, largely to the south of GDL proper, where the majority of the spiraling number of narco-murders have occurred, could have predicted that such events would come the city's way at any moment. The most revealing moment of the press conference entailed a speaker backtracking on his comment that the various levels of government and neighboring municipalities would now begin to cooperate on a greater level in matters of security. Of course, they had already been coordinating efforts, he quickly corrected himself, although the press and the public might well draw their own conclusions from the degree to which the attacks took the multiple police forces in the ZMG by surprise the other night. And as far as the shock and dismay of the citizens themselves, well, again, one must surmise that they have been snoozing, on the take, or in denial as well. The notable presence of narco-money here in the restaurant and construction businesses amongst others, the widely-held belief that GDL has long been a haven for the families of the narcos themselves, and then the death or capture of various narco-capos within the last year who were known to have maintained the peace in the city would all suggest that GDL could easily follow in Monterrey's footsteps. City and state officials, while easy to blame, cannot reasonably confront such a threat with such paltry resources at their disposal. They must either hope that Resistencia is on the run and weaker than one might think in spite of their Michoacanesque show of force the other night or swallow their pride and call in the feds, which will not be pretty either.