To paraphrase one observer of Albanians, “Mexico is not a society with corruption; Mexico is a corrupt society.”  Mexico has been undergoing a social crisis since the end of the Partido Revolutionario Institucional’s 71-year monopoly on political power.  Gone is the state’s patronage of competing interests, populism that succeeded by co-opting all opponents.  The coffers have run dry, and a culture that has long been raised to take, not make—to steal, not deal—is finding itself ill adapted to the modern world.

Recently, Mexican news editorials cried “racism!” lambasting Californians for daring to elect a governor who protects their interests.  “Mexicans built that country,” claimed one commentator on a leading nightly news program.  “We fed your cattle, harvested your crops, washed your dishes.  You owe your wealth to us.”

He failed to mention the illegal immigrants who have bankrupted California’s social services, the jobs they have taken away from Americans, the billions of dollars repatriated annually to Mexico, and the extensive crime inflicted on Americans.

The Mexican nation suffers a pathological contradiction in self-perception, a reverse Napoleonic complex of sorts.  They perceive themselves as grander than the statistics tell—in culture, geostrategic position, and socioeconomic and infrastructure development.  This overinflated self-image masks an inferiority complex, used to justify noncompliance with internationally accepted norms of behavior or contractual obligations.  Mexicans claim exemption from conventional obligations and standards: “Hey, this isn’t the United States: This is Mexico.  If you don’t like how we do things here, go home.”  Too often wont to fault their successful international competitors, Mexican have a willful lack of innovation and integrity that lies at the root of the failures they attribute to others.

Globalism has forced Mexican society to confront its inadequacies, which has helped undermine traditional Mexican values and customs.  One Mexican psychiatrist opined that “this has caused a generalized social neurosis,” which has exacerbated social tensions, manifested in common displays of aggression.  Accelerating to prevent someone from entering highway traffic is now the norm.  “Mi casa es tu casa” is a home in disorder.

Perhaps the roots of such abject mediocrity and apathy lie in Mexico’s history of Spanish conquest.  But is an historical claim to victimhood really a legitimate excuse for today’s failures?  When victimhood becomes identity, indifference becomes accepted.  Until Mexicans throw off their psychological shackles and change their culture rather than their figurehead, national impoverishment will remain their burden.

Mexicans “waste 100 times more energy finding excuses than getting the job done” (as Milko Manchevski opined of his native Macedonia).  When the line that separates criminal and civil society is absent, however, social life is not possible.

Transparency International notes that Mexicans distrust the police and security forces more than they do any other institution, and the reasons are not ambiguous.  A U.S. State Department Country Report on Human Rights Practices notes: “Corruption is widespread within police ranks and a growing problem for the military.  Military personnel and police officers [continue] to commit serious human rights abuses.”  Robert S. Leiken, commenting in Mexico: The Crisis Next Door on the reasons for public-private criminal collusion, sees a resolution to the dilemma as improbable:

[T]o get a police job . . . one has to bribe one’s way in . . . an officer can usually gain not only a steady income from graft, but also immunity for past and future crimes . . . Officers do occasionally get discharged for malfeasance . . . [but] work can usually be found in another jurisdiction or . . . in innumerable separate police forces . . . [O]ne can always turn to the criminal domain.  Ties already forged with the underworld, and with other working officers, plus knowledge of criminal procedures, make fine felons of cashiered police.

As to why mass firings are not feasible, Leiken quoted one official’s response “[That would only] put an uncontrolled army of criminals on the street.”

“[M]exico,” Leiken writes, “is a democracy without the rule of law.”  The state of Morelos is one of the worst examples of official criminality in the country.  Former President Ernesto Zedillo personally intervened in May 1998, stating at a lunch with society figures:

We know the task is nothing simple, because, regrettably, Morelos has become known for extremely grave problems, starting with problems of insecurity and injustice.  There cannot be economic progress or social growth if we cannot count on a clear State of Law.  And, unfortunately, that hasn’t happened here in the State of Morelos.

Zedillo added that, “Sadly, Morelos has become—and we know that now—the base for narcotraffickers.  Morelos has become—as sadly and painfully we know now—the base for kidnapping gangs and [violent] assailants.”

Zedillo was under enormous pressure from international human-rights organizations and governments to resolve the issue of an officially sponsored kidnapping ring, run by former Morelos police officer Daniel Arizmendi Lopez and involving the police anti-kidnapping unit with the collusion of the Treasury Department, judges, State Justice Police, Judicial Police, local bankers and businessmen, and lawyers, all under the protection of Gov. Jorge Carillo Olea.  Arizmendi’s tactics included progressively amputating his hostage’s body parts, until ransom was paid or the victim was tortured to death.

U.S. Military Intelligence at Fort Bragg reported that the Morelos State Prosecutor’s Office admitted that “Morelos is the land of kidnapping” and that 80 percent of the crimes in the state remain unpunished.  Arizmendi was finally captured and sent to prison as the “sacrificial lamb” for his part in the crimes, yet most police and public officials involved remain free, some still in their official positions.

The kidnapping spate of the late 1990’s has slowed considerably, yet Morelos remains a central hub for narcotraffickers.  In an August 8, 2003 article in Reforma, Gov. Sergio Estrada denied that local police are protecting narcotraffickers—despite testimony from an imprisoned police officer.  Estrada stated that the Attorney General’s Police are the ones responsible for investigating links between officials and criminals “[and] it’s just unproven speculations.”  For a fare, taxi drivers take visitors to see the opulent homes of known narcotraffickers, who remain at liberty.  Small wonder that half of the world’s drug cartels are Mexican.

A U.S. military-intelligence report entitled “Challenges to Security Forces in the Third Millennium” states that “Mexico [is ranked] the third most violent country in the world in terms of homicides per capita.  Mexico’s homicide rate is three times that of the U.S.”  In what has been called “Mexico’s national disgrace,” approximately 500 young women have been brutally raped, tortured, and murdered in the frontier town of Ciudad Juarez over the past ten years.  Their remains have usually been dumped in the desert, their bodies cut open, organs removed, and their hollow abdominal cavity filled with trash or sand.  Amnesty International notes:

Many of the women were abducted, held captive for several days and subjected to humiliation, torture and the most horrific sexual violence before dying, most as a result of asphyxiation caused by strangulation or from being beaten.

The sighting of men in 4×4’s kidnapping girls and women in poor neighborhoods, and the grisly dumping of mutilated bodies (some times as many as eight together), has elicited no substantive response from local, state, or federal authorities.  The administration of Vicente Fox Quesada has appointed special representatives, while going to great lengths to blame state and local authorities in Chihuahua.  Anticorruption state’s attorney Carlos Castresana has described the impunity and lack of political will to resolve the crimes as an “institutional collapse and a failure of the integrity of the Mexican justice system.”

Theories abound in Mexico regarding the perpetrators of these serial killings, from extraterrestrials to satanic cults to organ traffickers to powerful and well-connected men holding orgies.  Many of the victims have come from shantytowns that, according to one report (El Universal, “Tracking bones of the Dead in Juarez,” August 4, 2003) are built on land owned by the wealthiest families in Ciudad Juarez: Pedro Zaragoza Fuentes, Alfredo Urias, Oscar Cantu, and the Lugo family.

Of course, Mexicans could never accept that their society is sufficiently dysfunctional to spawn such barbarities, so the culprits must be from El Norte.  The Mexican Attorney General’s Office (PGR) opened a new line of investigation into the killings, implicating American soldiers, who allegedly cross the border to hunt humans.  Yet Attorney General Rafael Macedo and Deputy Attorney General Carlos Vega have offered no evidence to back up the allegations.  As a footnote, they added that the PGR continues to examine the theory that the attackers could be from the Mexican side.

A U.N. report on the Juarez killings (The Situation of the Rights of Women in Ciudad Juarez, 2002) noted that

some of the officials responsible for investigation and prosecution began employing a discourse that in effect blamed the victim for the crime . . . the response of the relevant officials to the victims’ family members ranged from indifference to hostility.

(Other media quoted Chihuahua Attorney General Arturo Gonzalez Rascon as the source of this policy.)  The macho culture of Northern Mexicans, many of whom resent the financial independence women have acquired through maquiladora employment, has been cited as one factor.  The U.N. report also added that

The lack of due diligence to clarify and punish such crimes, and to prevent their repetition reflects that they are not perceived as a serious problem.  The impunity in which such crimes are then left sends the message that such violence is tolerated, thereby fueling its perpetuation.

Some Mexicans describe the current state of society as “a barrel of crabs: when one climbs up, the others grab him and pull him down.”  Moreover, they opine, when Mexicans have an opportunity either to benefit or to prevent someone else from doing so, many would choose the latter.  For the Mexican male, ego reigns supreme—king of the rubbish heap, proudly sinking the ship to spite the sea.  Pride in failure is a national virtue.

Perhaps the most telling incident of Mexico’s current state of lawlessness and official impunity is the state’s investigation into the death of Digna Ochoa, a human-rights campaigner who had taken on the powers that be.  Amnesty International’s 2002 report stated:

On 19 October, Digna Ochoa, a human rights lawyer who had worked with the Centro de Derechos Humanos “Miguel Agustin Pro Juarez” Human Rights Center (PRODH), was shot and killed in her office in Mexico City.  A death threat was left next to her body warning members of the PRODH that they would face the same fate.  Digna Ochoa had worked on high-profile cases in which members of the military and Attorney General’s office were accused of serious human rights violations.

The same week, five other human-rights activists in Mexico City received death threats.

Twenty-one months after the murder of Ochoa, the Mexico City attorney general of justice ruled her death—by two bullets—a suicide.  Media reports circulated the government’s conclusion that she was emotionally unstable and had a history of psychiatric problems.  In the official story, she wrote the death threat herself, knelt on the floor facing a couch, then shot herself first in the femur and then in the head.

Americans must ask themselves if they want to maintain the diplomatic facade that our countries are “partners and amigos.”  Mexico’s ambassador to the United Nations, Adolfo A. Zinser, was recently recalled for stating publicly that the United States has looked at Mexico “as its back patio.”  National media lambasted him for offering an opinion contrary to Mexico’s official policy of “friendship and cooperation” with the United States.

For Mexicans to imply that they are our sociocultural equals, however, is a rather long jump from the dysfunctional reality of their society.  Stupid is as stupid does; if Mexicans wish to behave as Untermenschen, they should expect to be treated accordingly.

Four months after this article was originally penned, the Morelos state government of Sergio Estrada Cajigal Ramirez (of the PAN/Partido Accion Nacional/National Action Party) faces the possibility of total collapse, because of official connections with the Juarez cartel of narcotraffickers.  PAN candidates (including President Vicente Fox) rose to power in the 2000 elections on a platform of ending corruption, but their actions have given the lie to their rhetoric.

On April 6, the Mexican Attorney General’s Police arrested Morelos Police Chief Jose Agustin Montiel Lopez and sub-director Raul Cortes Galindo and charged them with heading a protection ring for the Juarez cartel.  Montiel and Cortes protected twice-weekly flights of drugs from Colombia to state and regional airports in Morelos and provided the transshipments with Ministerial Police escorts on the interstate toll road.  The video surveillance cameras at the toll plazas turned off when the convoys went through.

Estrada Cajigal denied links with narcotraffickers and involvement in the circle of corruption around him, but former Ministerial Police officers Idelfonso Ortiz Alatorre and Marco Enrique Yepez Uribe, now imprisoned, testified that Estrada Cajigal was a virtual employee of the Juarez cartel and that State’s Attorney for Justice Guillermo Tenorio Avila was a key figure in arranging the “settling of debts” between federal and local officials and narcotraffickers.  They and other witnesses have further declared that Governor Estrada Cajigal is romantically involved with Nadia Patricia Esparragoza, daughter of Juan Jose Esparragoza Morenos, one of the Juarez cartel jefes.  The PGR stated that Nadia Esparragoza is the “key link” between public officials of Estrada Cajigal’s administration and the Juarez cartel.  (Nadia Esparragoza enjoyed Ministerial Police escorts in Morelos.)  Another critical link is the official police protection of Anibal Carillo, cousin of Juarez cartel boss Vicente Carillo Leyva, revealed in the testimony of Agustin Montiel and former commander Alberto Pliego Fuentes, now both imprisoned.

On April 12, Governor Estrada Cajigal ordered the disarmament and removal of the entire force of Ministerial Police and their replacement by Federal Preventative Police, forces of the Mexican army, and new police-academy graduates.

On April 14, ex-State’s Attorney for Justice Alejandro Hernandez Arjona was arrested for his involvement in the assassination of drug dealer Benjamin Gomez, allegedly ordered by Governor Estrada Cajigal.

As the political crisis unfolded, State’s Attorney Tenorio Avila resigned on April 17 as demanded by the state Congress.  Estrada Cajigal’s “strong man,” Morelos State General Secretary of Government Eduardo Becerra Perez, followed suit two days later.

On April 21, the PGR reopened an investigation into Estrada Cajigal’s possible involvement in the murder of Gomez and of ex-coordinator of the Ministerial Police, Luis Alain Pano Vega.

The evidence against Estrada Cajigal goes beyond political affiliations, directly involving family as well.  Estrada Cajigal’s ex-father-in-law, Enrique Barting Diaz, director of the Tetlama Airport, and brother-in-law Gerardo Gomez de la Borbolla have been implicated in the narcotrafficking scandal by allowing drug flights to land on protected runways, according to witness testimony.  Morelos State Secretary of Government Eduardo Becerra—a former auto-repair shop owner like Estrada Cajigal—and former Becerra employee Gomez de la Borbolla have also been implicated in a car-theft ring that stole luxury cars to trade in Central America for cocaine.  As David Aponte of El Universal writes (“The File of the Governor’s Brother-in-Law,” April 22):

The Morelos Government never went deeper [in investigating] the links between Gomez de la Borbolla and . . . [Jaurez cartel boss Carillo Leyva’s cousin] Anibal.  Montiel never arrested [Anibal Carillo] despite a rap sheet for fraud since 1994.  Everything stayed in the family, between friends, among the protected.

The Morelos state Congress proposed to try Governor Estrada Cajigal, which was nearly assured until the April 22 defection (ostensibly after the receipt of $200,000, according to his former party colleagues) to the PAN of PRD representative Juan Nolasco Sanchez, a swing vote that altered the balance of legislative power.