Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Who Do We Blame?


Those of you who are my friends on Facebook have likely seen the image above. For the rest of you, let me explain. My very dear friends and ex-neighbours in Patzcuaro recently suffered one of the worst experiences possible for any family. Their  15 year old nephew and his friend disappeared from a mall in Guadalajara. Tragically their bodies were recovered several days later.

This is a story heard all too often, not only in Mexico, but in every country in the world. What I would like to address here is not so much the events themselves but our reactions to them. Today another dear friend of mine shared on Facebook, a very interesting and insightful blog post discussing the abduction of the two boys, from a blog entitled La Política Circense.

The post asks us to consider the possibility that we should take social responsibility for heinous acts such as these and questions the actions ( or non-actions ) of the government in it’s responses to these situations.
The author of the post says that in response to this situation there are two general opinions. On the one hand there is indignation, accusation, grief and sadness. On the other there is justification. He “was a narco”, and that, in some way makes the crime “expected”, dehumanized. In our minds we see that the assassination was a narco mandate which has become all too common, and if it is narco related we have no control. We just keep our heads down and say ”poor little things”, “how terrible for the families”.

It’s a good excuse isn’t it? “Ohhhhhh, he must have been involved in drugs”.  The author goes on to ask “ How is it that we allow crimes like this to become normalized?” “When did it become normal that thugs with guns can snatch away the lives of 15 year boys?” “Who’s fault is that?” he asks.

He feels that the government is shielding itself under “fue producto del crimen del Narco” , “it was the proceeds of narco crime”, and he wonders if we, as a society are doing the same thing. Because we feel we can’t do anything against the drug cartels, have we reached a point where we say, well it’s no one’s fault, these things happen? As though they were accidents?

Todos somos responsables de la muerte de estos chicos. Somos responsables de la muerte de todas las víctimas del narcotráfico. Hemos, deliberadamente, permitido que las cosas se salieran de control. Tenemos policías que no sirven. Esperamos que papá Gobierno llegue a solucionarnos las vidas: ¿secuestran a dos chavales en una plaza? Pedimos cámaras de seguridad. Como si la construcción de un mejor país se hiciera con cámaras de seguridad y no con la propagación de valores de comunidad, de protesta, de transparencia, de cooperación.

I have added the passage above as it is very heartfelt and profound. I will translate as best I can. “ We are responsible for the deaths of those boys. We are responsible for the deaths of all the victims of drug trafficking. We have deliberately allowed matters to get out of control. We have police that do not serve. We wait for Father Government to solve the problems of our lives. Kidnap two boys from a plaza? We ask for security cameras. Like a better country might be built with security cameras and not the spreading of community values, protest, transparency and cooperation.” 

He goes on to say that we are responsible for our lives as they are because we do not embrace those values. That we are conformists and individualists. That we see these atrocities and the ineffective efforts of the government to control them, and we do nothing. We get angry with those who “rock the boat”, exercising their rights to protest. We put our individuality before the community, always.

This is interesting to me, as I have noticed a huge tendency among Mexicans to say “ni modo”, what can you do? I’m not referring to drug cartels here, but to life in general. “Si es la voluntad de Dios”, if it’s God’s will. However, don’t we all really do that, or something similar? Take the easy way out? I’m curious if the blog author’s feeling is a non-Mexican attitude, a young Mexican attitude or maybe more people in general are inclined this way but don’t voice their feelings. Or maybe they just don’t voice them to gringos. Or maybe he's a zealot.
Food for thought.


  1. This is a very difficult topic. But difficulty does not make it someone else's problem. I was talking with an American friend the other day who announced gleefully that if we ignore crime in American ghettos, America's rate of violence is almost European. My response was: "So what? The people who live in those ghettos are as American as the two of us." He just shrugged.

    No one seems to care about these issues until it happens to a neighbor or someone in their family. Americans could not have cared less about gun violence until a group of white kids were shot. Then the public played its little Princess Diana passion play until something else came along to divert our attention.

    Our community recently saw two young men executed -- probably by the cartels. And everyone simply seems paralyzed. Maybe it will take enraged mothers to stop this madness. That is what happened in Northern Ireland.

    But silence is not going to change anything.

  2. I agree with you in that the longer we remain quiet the more confident those that are perpetrating the crimes are becoming.

    However what really intrigued me about this blog post was the attitude of the author, a Mexican, about how to deal with crime in Mexico. His attitude is far more aggressive than absolutely anyone else I have talked to about this subject. I am curious if he is alone in his feelings or if there are others with similar ideas about how to deal this issue. I left a link at the bottom of my post, did you read the blog post?

  3. Perhaps he/she has lived outside Mexico and has returned and is appalled and incensed by the lack of control the government and local police have over the narco invasion.

    1. Definitely a possibility. I hadn't considered that.

  4. Unfortunately, not many Mexicans or Gingros seem to really care about these crimes. I applaud you for trying to raise their awareness to these injustices.

    The problem I see is is that people who live in Mexico choose to ignore their unpleasant surroundings. They are in denial—both Gingros and Mexicans. When we lived in Patzcuaro Mexico and expressed our concerns about this issue, people acted like we were the ones out of touch with reality. They acted like we were making a mountain out of a molehill. Our son was being followed, pursued, and threatened every time he left our compound, and asked for protection money. As a result, it became quite uncomfortable for us to continue living there. Even when we left, we did not feel comfortable discussing this with others. They didn't want to know. They wanted to believe that their paradise still existed. And so it is, to this day. Most still don't want to know. I hope your message will ring true for those in need of knowing the truth.
    Susan Joyce

  5. I agree that many people choose to ignore this situation and pretend that it doesn't exist Susan. I'm not sure that I could be happy living like that.

    However, what I was actually commenting on mostly was the attitude of the gentleman that wrote the blog post to which I was referring. The attitude of wanting to gather people together to try to improve the situation is one that we don't often see.

    I don't know if you visited the link that I left at the bottom of my post, but if so, you would see that he is making an effort to inspire people to work together. He says that united we can make a difference. In my understanding this is a somewhat uncommon ideology in current day Mexico.