A Wolf At The Door

I keep the wolf from the door, but he calls me up, calls me on the phone,
tells me all the ways that he’s gonna mess me up, steal all my children if I don’t pay the ransom,
but i’ll never see him again, if I squeal to the cops.
No no no no no no no…

–Radiohead “Wolf At The Door (It Girl. Rag Doll)

(Translation to English below the fold, for this topic it feels more natural to “think in spanish.”)

La noticia del secuestro y asesinato de Fernando Martí ha conmocionado a México, y con justa razón. Y vaya que en un país donde los secuestros y la violencia se han vuelto una realidad no solamente para los más ricos, no es fácil generar shock de tal magnitud.

La noticia es, la verdad, tanto enfurecedora como deprimente. Para los que no han oído sobre este caso (posiblemente nadie viviendo en México o que sigua las noticias del país), aquí va un resumen: Un grupo de secuestradores toman a un niño de catorce años, hijo de un rico empresario y exigen una cantidad absurda de dinero para liberarlo. El niño fue capturado junto con dos escoltas. Más tarde los cuerpos de los escoltas son abandonados en un coche, para hacerle ver a la familia que no van a dudar en matar a su hijo si no pagan. Por suerte, uno de los dos escoltas fue simplemente dado por muerto y ha sobrevivido. Habrá que ver que declaraciones hace cuando se recupere. La familia pagó el rescato acordado via un negociador profesional. El simple hecho que exista esta profesión en México es signo que las cosas están terribles. Los secuestradores no cumplen con su palabra y no entregan al niño después que la familia pagó el rescate. Semanas después, el cuerpo es hallado -apestando por la ya avanzada descomposición- en la cajuela de un auto. No hay palabras para expresar lo preocupante que es la situación actual en México donde esto es no sólo posible, sino tristemente menos fuera de lo normal de lo que quisiéramos aceptar.

Como era de esperarse, resulta que policías estan involucrados como posibles secuestradores. En la mayoría de los casos que recuerdo sobre grupos de secuestradores que han sido capturados, siempre hay policías dentro de ellos, por no decir que son mayoritariamente policías o ex-policías. No es de sorprenderse que dadas tales circunstancias, haya en México tal grado de impunidad. ¿Cómo puede haber justicia si los investigadores y los culpables son la misma gente?

Siendo sincero, lo que más me preocupa de momento es que veo problemas de fondo muy serios en México. El problema no es solamente (sin ignorar la gravedad de este crimen, que verdaderamente no es fácil superar en cuanto a su barbarismo), que se ha extorsionado a una familia, y asesinado a dos personas, una de ellas un niño. Aún más preocupante es el clima de impunidad y absoluta ausencia del Estado de Derecho en México en la actualidad. Este crimen es consecuencia de la libertad con la que operan este grupo de animales. De poco sirve el capturar a este grupo si las condiciones están dadas para que otro grupo igual o peor tome su lugar en el futuro próximo.

Hay de momento un sentimiento de unidad nacional muy fuerte contra la inseguridad, lo cual es definitivamente bueno. Debe haber presión sobre el gobierno. La protección de la ciudadanía es una de las tareas más básicas de cualquier gobierno. De poco sirven avances socioeconómicos cuando se tiene una población presa de criminales. En verdad espero que este sea un momento catalítico para la sociedad Mexicana. Tiene que haber cambios significativos y pronto.

Lo que me tiene desesperanzado es que dudo que los cambios toquen a la profundidad requerida. Aunque es algo de lo que todo Mexicano está consciente, me tomó tiempo viviendo fuera de México para darme cuenta la magnitud del problema del respeto a las leyes que está por demás grabado en el ADN nacional. Para mí, éste es el principal problema en México, del que surgen los problemas mas “reales” con que se enfrenta el país en la actualidad: Existe una absoluta y generalizada falta de respeto por la ley.

No hay porqué medir las palabras, en México las leyes son vistas como imposiciones, que sólo los idiotas obedecen al pie de la letra. No puedo pensar en un solo aspecto en que haya un profundo sentimiento de respeto a la ley en México. Y esto permea todos los aspectos de la vida nacional: Elecciones, evasión fiscal, leyes de tránsito, enriquecimiento ilícito de gobernantes y líderes sindicales, sobornos, favoritismo en empleo de personal, etc. No estoy seguro cuáles sean las causas, ni de la evolución de las actitudes del mexicano ante las leyes con el tiempo, pero la situación actual es clara: Las leyes existen para ser quebrantadas. El encontrar la forma de evadir la ley es una de las virtudes más altas a que aspira el mexicano.

Mientras sea lo normal el que se elija quejarse de cómo han subido de precio las “mordidas” por ser parado con aliento alcohólico; en vez de pedir un taxi, contar con un conductor designado, u otra solución al problema de conductores borrachos, será cuestión de tiempo para que se regrese al nivel actual de inseguridad.

Mientras sea lo normal que gente se niegue a hacer negocios a menos de un “moche” que no aparezca en la declaración fiscal, será cuestión de tiempo para que se regrese al nivel actual de inseguridad.

Mientras sea lo normal que no se veal el más mínimo problema en comprar artículos que todo el mundo sabe (y que los vendedores no hacen el menor esfuerzo en ocultar) son ilegales, será cuestión de tiempo para que se regrese al nivel actual de inseguridad.

Mientras sea lo normal que el principal propósito de la declaración fiscal sea el cómo burlar el sistema para no pagar impuestos que la persona sabe debe pagar, será cuestión de tiempo para que se regrese al nivel actual de inseguridad.

Mientras que “a ver cómo nos arreglamos” sea lo primero que la gente piensa cuando se enfrenta con algún problema con alguna autoridad, será cuestión de tiempo para que se regrese al nivel actual de inseguridad.

Mientras que el gobierno y la policía actúe con la mentalidad que las leyes son algo que sólo concierne a los civiles, será cuestión de tiempo para que se regrese al nivel actual de inseguridad.

El desdeño por la ley es un aspecto tan central de la mentalidad mexicana, que en verdad no tengo mucha confianza que las cosas cambien pronto. Mi temor es que sólo cuando las condiciones de vida sean absolutamente terribles, habrá cambio. Y cambio ante situaciones tan graves es difícilmente pacífico y sin consecuencias dañinas.

Espero que la gente tome este momento para reevaluar la perspectiva nacional sobre el tema de la falta de respeto por la ley. No se puede aspirar a bienestar ni paz social cuando es un axioma que el motivo de ser de una ley, es el darle una oportunidad al mexicano de encontrar una forma de evadirla.

Llevo tiempo pensando sobre el problema de la falta de legalidad en México, es una pena que sólo haya organizado mis pensamientos ante una noticia tan trágica como el secuestro y asesinato de Fernando Martí.

Por supuesto que hay otros problemas, y bastante serios, para el país; pero en verdad no veo otro que este tan arraigado a la cultura actual como la actitud preponderante ante las leyes. Por lo mismo, no creo que sea fácil que se dé el cambio de fondo que el país necesita. Esperemos que no tome una crisis peor que la actual.

–Alright, translation. This is gonna be long. Bear with me.–

The news of the kidnapping and murder of Fernando Martí has deservedly shocked Mexico. [Link with news/commentary in english here and here] It is hard to shock a country where kidnappings and violence have become a reality, and not only to the richest.

The news is truly as maddening as it is depressing. For those who haven’t heard about it, here’s a summary: A group kidnapped a fourteen year old kid, the son of a rich businessman, and demanded a ridiculous amount of money for ransom. The boy was captured together with his two bodyguards. Later, the bodies of the bodyguards were left abandoned in a car, to show the family they won’t hesitate to kill their son. Luckily, one of the two bodyguards, who was left for dead by the attackers, was still alive and is now recovering. It will be interesting to see what he has to say. The family pays the ransom which was brokered by a professional negotiator. The mere fact that this profession exists in Mexico is a sign that things are terrible. The kidnappers don’t follow with their end of the deal and the boy is not freed. Weeks later, the boy’s body is found -rotting already- in the trunk of an abandoned car. It’s impossible to put in words how troubling is the current situation in Mexico, where this is event is not only possible, but sadly far less improbable than we’d like to accept.

As it was to be expected, the police seems to be involved in the kidnapping. Most of the cases I can think of  when kidnapping rings have been captured, there’s always policemen involved, to not say they are mostly comprised of cops or former cops. It’s not surprising that given these circumstances, lawlessness is what it is in Mexico. How can there be justice when the prosecutors and the criminals are one and the same?

Being honest, what troubles me the most is that I see a very deep problem in Mexico. The problem is not only (without ignoring the gravity of this crime, which truly would be hard to top in terms of savagery), that a family was extorsioned, and that two people, one of them a kid were murdered in cold blood. Even more worrysome is the enviroment of impunity and utter absence of rule of law in Mexico at the moment. This crime is consequence of the freedom with which this bunch of animals operate. Little good will do capturing these criminals if the situation is such that another group, possibly even worse than the current one, will take its place in the near future.

There is now a very strong feeling of national unity against insecurity, which is certainly good. There needs to be pressure on the government. Protecting the people is one of the most basic tasks of any government. Little good will socioeconomic advances do when the population is at the mercy of criminals. I really hope this moment serves as a catalyst for the mexican society. There have to be meaningful, big changes, and soon.

What has me with little hope is that I doubt that the changes will be as deep as they are needed to be. Even though this is something every mexican is aware of, it took me some time living outside Mexico to realize the magnitude of the problem with people’s respect for the rule of law. It is imprinted in the country’s DNA. For me, this is the main problem for Mexico, from which most of the more “real” problems that affect mexico originate: There is an absolute, and generalized lack of respect for laws.

There’s no use in sugarcoating it, in Mexico laws are seen as impositions, something that only idiots obey fully. I cannot think of a single aspect where there is a deep feeling of respect for laws. This permeates all aspects of life in Mexico: Elections, fiscal evasion, driving, illicit enrichment by government and union leaders, bribes, favoritism in hiring, etc. I am not sure what are the causes, nor of the evolution of the attitudes towards laws in time, but the current situation is clear: Laws only exist to be broken. Finding ways to evade laws is one of the highest virtues that a mexican can aspire to.

As long as complaining about how expensive bribing police offers has become is the norm, instead of getting a taxi cab, having a designated driver, or some other solution to drunk drivink, it’s  only a matter of time before we get back to the current levels of insecurity.

As long as it’s the norm that people refuse to do business unless there’s a bribe that won’t appear on their tax forms, it’s only a matter of time before we get back to the current levels of insecurity.

As long as it’s the norm that there’s no problem seen behind buying goods that everybody knows are illegal (and which the sellers make no effort in hiding), it’s only a matter of time before we get back to the current levels of insecurity.

As long as it’s the norm that the main purpose of filing your tax return is to find ways to trick the system to not pay the taxes you know you owe, it’s only a matter of time before we get back to the current levels of insecurity.

As long as “let’s see how we can work it out” [A common euphemism for initiating the process of bribing] is the first thought in people’s minds when they are dealing with authority, it’s only a matter of time before we get back to the current levels of insecurity.

As long as government and police act thinking that laws are something that only applies to civilians, it is only a matter of time before we get back to the current levels of insecurity.

Dismisiveness towards laws are such a central aspect to the mexican psyche, that I really lack confidence that things will change soon. My fear is that only when living conditions are truly terrible, will things change. And change under those circumstances is hardly peaceful and without harmful consequences.

I hope people take this moment to reexamine the national attitude towards respect for laws. One cannot aspire to well being nor social peace when it is an axiom that laws only exist to grant the mexican an oportunity to find a way around it.

I’ve been thinking about this for a while, it is a shame that only when confronted by a tragedy such as the kidnapping of Fernando Martí, I sat down and organized my thoughts on the matter.

Of course there are other, very serious problems for the country; but I do not see any other that is as ingrained to the current culture as the mainstream attitude towards laws. Because of this, I don’t think it will be easy that the deep changes that the country needs will take place. Let’s hope it doesn’t take a crisis worse than the one we have now.

[My apologies for the akward translation, I didn’t want to sit down and rewrite the post in english, so I did a more or less literal translation]

Advertisements

3 Responses

  1. Excellent post. These cultural attitudes you bring up, hownso they relate to the history of Mexico?

  2. First, thank you for your well thought-out commentary on this horrific tragedy. What you pin-pointed as a cultural mindset which has spawned this kind of violence, can not be easily refuted. It will be less easily denied by anyone else when a “critical mass” of people from that culture (on both sides of the border) is determined to take whatever steps are necessary to provoke real systemic change. Of course, such change must be evident institutionally–but it MUST begin individually to be permanent.

    As a minority (African American), I can appreciate how utterly difficult this is to own up to as a people. One reason is that we (Mexicans, African Americans, etc…), as people groups–have been historically victimized by external forces directly or indirectly outside our sphere of control. Because of many real and perceived wrongs, it is TOO convenient to blame external factors as THE source of all of our current problems.

    Nevertheless, many of those forces have, in fact, shaped our own popular and collective cultures/psyches–negatively. Often, these negative elements become coalesced with the positive or benign ones to the point that we are unwilling to critique ANY element of our culture: to do so is to be seen by many of that culture as a “personal” attack, or an act of treason. But, those destructive cultural components must be confronted and renounced. If we continue to deny the so called “minor” ways we tolerate such attitudes and practices, each of us will be individually responsible for perpetuating the deterioration and ultimate destruction of our own people.

    What has happened in Mexico is not only a grim warning for Mexicans–but a chilling lesson on the consequences of not condemning and turning from the sins of one’s culture.

  3. Rule of law is a major concern. Major concern!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: