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Dispatch / The Mexican Drug War / February 26, 2009

But I’m getting a little bit sidetracked here. I recall reading recently something about Americans talking about the need for Mexico to legalize drugs to stop the violence. Well, I don’t know. To me, it’s Kayser Soze, not real, so it has no point. Even the Mexican president can okay it, like Fox did during the last Administration. But America can “not recommend it,” like Bush did to Fox. And the proposal dies. Just like that. So there is really no point in talking about it, I think. It’s just a fantasy of an Amsterdam-like legalization. And like any fantasy, one can only dream. But it would be a winner with the tourism board, I’ll bet you that.

But coming back to reality and the whole travel advisory topic, I remember reading a spot-on analysis that said kidnapping of foreigners is rare because tourists usually spend so little time on the ground that they don’t give kidnappers a chance to collect reliable intel. They can’t tell how much someone is worth and so it doesn’t make any business sense. The narcos are good businessmen, see. Very conservative, in many ways. They don’t like to take risks if they don’t know the odds.

But let me be honest. There’s a couple of points about America’s take on Mexico’s Drug War that make me wish our people did start kidnapping your tourists for real and torturing them real nice if their families don’t offer up a juicy reward.

You know that one of Mexico`s main sources of income is tourism, right? Well, you know what happens to tourism when you issue scary travel warnings every six months that basically tell Americans that if they go to Mexico they will be tortured, mutilated, raped and shot, in no specific order? You guessed it. No one comes around. And no one gets paid.

This is what your Washington politicians don’t seem to get, or don’t want to. You’re just pushing us in the other direction, dumbasses. Because other than tourism, people have only one other work option around here: the drug biz.

It’s sad when your supposedly closest ally is so moronic, punishing you for the problems it itself is creating. But hey, it makes me feel a whole lot better when my fellow Mexicanos give you gringos the finger while roaring through the border, smuggling tons and tons of drugs right under your noses and then flipping it for a nice profit. It’s tit-for-tat.

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  • 1. aleke  |  February 27th, 2009 at 3:23 am

    cool, i’m learnin alot mate.
    but about the tourism, ain’t not gonna be no tourism in mexico once the great depression 2: civil war edition hits, drug war and travel warnings or no.

  • 2. Neilius  |  February 27th, 2009 at 6:05 am

    I completely agree with your assessment of the state departments paranoid warnings. At least there is the small comfort that its not just Mexico that is fucked over by this nonsense. I would wager that at any given time, half of the world is on the “warning” list. Sucks for you, but on the bright side it keeps timorous assholes from converging upon and spoiling every last country in the world.

    Regarding you guys running across the border, I say bring more coke while your at it, the price is too fucking high. I have nothing against people sneaking across the border. I do however dislike the pusillanimous American policy which encourages this. If I had my way, anyone running across the border in either direction would be shot. This is the proper way to enforce borders, and law in general.

    Once in Ukraine I was trying to sneak across the border into Romania. I figured it would be fairly simple to bribe some local to row me across the swamp separating the two counties, but no one would, even though I offered a substantial reward. I soon figured out why. Apparently there is a problem with gun running and drug trafficing from Ukraine into Romania, and on to the EU. Thus when the border guards see anyone attempting to cross the border illegally they simply open fire on them. I guess they must be fairly good shots, as according to the local fishermen, no one dares attempt the crossing anymore, at least not in daylight.

    Now that I think of it, that’s a brilliant idea. Contract out border patrol to ex Russian military, and see how many people get across.

  • 3. mx?  |  February 27th, 2009 at 7:18 am

    Then you would have ex russian military changing sides and working with the narcos.
    It happens.

  • 4. Tyler Bass  |  February 27th, 2009 at 10:50 am

    I think you are making too much of the State Department’s warnings, at least in the bigger picture, the written warnings notwithstanding.

    At the height of the operation a couple of days or so ago, I recall Spokesman Robert Wood saying that he thinks traveling to Mexico is a great idea and he brings his own kids there. And Wood’s briefings are way less obscure than the postings; sometimes, they even make the cable news shows!

  • 5. Joe Blow  |  February 27th, 2009 at 11:44 am

    I always laugh when I hear people talk down the Iran-Contra scandal. I try to tell people it was just like paying a local Guardsman to steal M16s from the amoury, and then taking them down to mexico and trading them for drugs. Bring the drugs back, convert to cash, pay some G.I to steal some more weapons, ooh ooh get some grenades…

    So I guess the spirit of Ronnie lives on along the border…

  • 6. Brazilian Guy  |  February 27th, 2009 at 1:42 pm

    Alright, I’m going to call BS on The Exiled. This writing style looks A LOT like The War Nerd. The guy even goes on about Mumbai, for god’s sake.

    Dear Exiled Team, why don’t you come clean that you retired the “Gary Beecher” character and created this “Pancho Montana” guy? Why the smoke and mirrors? I mean, I came here basically to read the War Nerd, so why don’t you just stop wasting my time and tell that you retired the column?

  • 7. captain america  |  February 27th, 2009 at 6:22 pm

    may your wishes not come true…at least the ones about torturing, raping, and murdering us for having a stupid government.

  • 8. MR WILLIAMS  |  February 27th, 2009 at 7:08 pm

    What about that tourist they capped on the Copper Canyon train a few years back? Cartels 1, Lonely Planet 0.

    I just live off my pets: mi perico, mi gallo y mi chiva.

  • 9. Harv  |  February 27th, 2009 at 8:48 pm

    i wonder if they’ve started using IEDs on army patrols yet

  • 10. Neilius  |  February 27th, 2009 at 8:49 pm

    “Then you would have ex russian military changing sides and working with the narcos.”

    Good point.

  • 11. pedrito  |  February 28th, 2009 at 6:02 am

    Most likely, State Dept is discouraging travel so the few dollars Americans have left they spend in the country. After all, the USA is broke. As for “pushing us in the other direction”, what direction do you think Americans are being pushed in after Wall Street stole everyones money, savings, pension, house etc? Mexican life is no more shit than American. Why not come and be a tourist in Utah….we need any money we can get. We’ll teach you some crappy Jesus hymns.

  • 12. mx?  |  February 28th, 2009 at 7:08 am

    haha personally I just like gallos;)

  • 13. kotek besar  |  February 28th, 2009 at 8:59 am

    Small unit action is a good thing to the extent that it keeps spring breakers away from Cancun.

  • 14. trewrtz6  |  February 28th, 2009 at 10:23 am

    I’m almost completely sure these columns are not written by someone actually living in Mexico, or by a Mexican at all.
    First off, his English is too good, second, how come his sadistic taste and writing style matches so perfectly with the rest of the Exiled’s cannibalistic commentary, and third (and most importantly) there is no way a real Mexican who lives in this living hell he describes in these articles would be able to glee over all that in such a carefree and jocular way.

  • 15. captain america  |  February 28th, 2009 at 11:09 am

    pedrito: i chalk it up to the way that, if there’s even a 1 in 1,000,000 chance of someone getting hurt, you have to issue an advisory or recall. otherwise you risk a pricey lawsuit (he says after just finishing his box of recalled protein bars…what does salmonella feel like, anyway?).

    trewrtz6: good point. although on the other hand, consider the exile’s reputation for integrity. do you really see exile staffers just making stuff up or altering someone’s words to better fit in with their world view? seems hard to believe to me.

    maybe the guy just spent a few years in the states. could be enough time to learn detached irony and moral relativism, as long as you hang with the right crowd.

  • 16. Chema Pino Suarez  |  February 28th, 2009 at 11:49 am

    The fact is that Mexico is not a living hell. Shit I was there a few months a go. If your not in the drug game you really don’t have to worry about shit; in that respect Pancho is spot on. Most Mexicans are really apathetic to the drug war because it usually doesn’t involve civilians getting shot; 94% of everyone that has been killed has been in the drug game.

    Cities in Mexico look nothing like a Robert Rodriguez movie (For the record ‘Ese guey me la pela; pinche pocho pendejo)
    I also must ad that Monterrey is one Mexico’s and Latin America’s most cosmopolitan cities and it was only until recently (4-5 years) that drug violence began to hit the city on a large scale.

    Is my family in Mexico gleeing over this not really; but it is making for some really good television.

    Someone out there is claiming that Pancho one of the Exileonline’s many ghost writers; perhaps. However, I have to add that ghost writer or not this guy has a mastery of slang used in Mexico that no gringo without contacts or Mexican friends could have.

  • 17. trewrtz6  |  February 28th, 2009 at 1:04 pm

    I wasn’t claiming that Mexico is a living hell. (I’ve never even been there, I live in Europe.)
    What I was saying is that what is described in these columns does sound pretty hellish – at least to me. It’s hard for me to believe that someone lives right next door to these massacres and can write about it in such a completely detached and gleeful tone.
    (which BTW fits in a bit too perfectly with the rest of the reporting that’s conveyed by this site)

    but then, I might underestimate the levels of cruelty and cynicism one can reach.

    I have to say though that the worldview touted by these reports (“Mexicans love killing each other, they’re just that way” and so on) is not just repulsive, but also obviously false, and consequently UNINTERESTING and silly, after some time. (the same applies for war nerd)

  • 18. captain america  |  February 28th, 2009 at 5:14 pm

    chema has one thing right. that is:

    mexico=a damn nice country to be in

    nice weather, some of the best food in the world, gorgeous beaches, and friendly people who are generally patient with foreigners who don’t speak their language well (nothing like americans and russians). basically, one of the coolest places on the planet.

    i haven’t been back for a while, though. it’s been a lack of money and time for the last few years, but now all this drug violence stuff has me worried too.

    still, i give more weight to the opinion of a good friend’s mexican wife who refuses to go home to toluca now for fear that someone who knows her husband is american will kidnap her or her kids. it’s hard to judge the situation from up here north of the border, but if there’s any doubt, why risk it?

  • 19. Legal Tender  |  March 1st, 2009 at 5:17 am

    @ trewrtz6

    You got ir right when you said “I might underestimate the levels of cruelty and cynicism one can reach” due to European living conditions being so different.

    I people that have visited Mexico say it is a nice place because they don’t have to, you know, live there.

    I lived there for a few years and I got sick to my stomach with all the corruption and violence.

    I know the relationship between civilians and police in say, the US, is tense to say the least but it really can’t compare to what it is like in Mexico.

    The first time you have your house broken into or are mugged in the streets (perhaps one of what Pancho calls “express” kidnappings) and are naive enough to go to the police station to report the crime only to find the criminal sitting behind one of the desks, your perspective will change. Ah, priceless.

    It’s no surprise that people are apathetic. It makes no difference if you engage the problem (except you may get in trouble).

    Let me be cleat about one thing. You can only have it good in Mexico if you are wealthy. As simple as that. Even then, the only thing that happens is you quickly become a target. So nice.

    While it is true that Mexico is no Mogadishu, what kind of mentality is it that makes you think things “are not too bad” or “not as bad as they make them out to be” when you have fucking gun fights in your city streets?

  • 20. trewrtz6  |  March 1st, 2009 at 6:39 am

    “While it is true that Mexico is no Mogadishu, what kind of mentality is it that makes you think things “are not too bad” or “not as bad as they make them out to be” when you have fucking gun fights in your city streets?”

    but I din’t say it wasn’t bad or anything like that. I imagine Mexico is pretty hard to take exactly because of the violence and also because of the ocean of deep poverty spotted with islands of perverse and conspicuous forms of wealth. (guarded mansions and so on)
    What I said was: I find it hard to imagine that someone whol lives there can make jokes about it in this kind of tone. I’m not saying it’s impossible but pretty hard for me to grasp. that’s all.
    if these columns are really authored by a mexican who watches gun-fights from his window, then I find it even uglier. and there’s nothing hilarious about it either, it’s just perverse and stupid.
    so long.

  • 21. aleke  |  March 1st, 2009 at 7:00 pm

    trewrtz6, this is simple. Yasha was born Russian, grew up Russian, and moved to America. Then he moved back, into the hellish nihilist landscape of 90s Russia. Do you think he’s not authentic?

    Just compare 2009 Mexico to 90s Russia. I would say they’re relatively on an even keel of violence, except the violence in Russia wasn’t solely focused on the drug war.

    Maybe you really should just see the world for what it is. Leave your clean, social democratic paradise and the absurdity of the Enlightenment melts away like the fatty artifice it is. I should say know a little about living like that, I was born in Russia.

    Actually, the way the world is going, maybe you’ll get to see a little of that cold hellish truth in your European country. At least you’ll have grown up in “interesting times.”

  • 22. captain america  |  March 1st, 2009 at 8:34 pm

    well said, aleke. this is why i’m constantly telling people they should feel lucky to live in the US and that things here are pretty good, at least compared to the rest of the world.

    i’d add some stuff about how the founding fathers (of the US) were geniuses and how grateful all americans should be for the freedoms they enjoy, but then, i’m gay so i cant be all positive about this stuff, you know?

  • 23. mx?  |  March 1st, 2009 at 8:45 pm

    Its easier to deal with the drug war with detachment and cynicism, youll go crazy if you dont, for god sakes, the whole cartel drug war reads like a goddamn saw marathon.

    Plus the mexican has always dealt with death with humour, like during the celebrations for the day of the death.
    Its a CULTURAL thing, but Americans dont seem to grasp that concept, thats their thing.

  • 24. captain america  |  March 1st, 2009 at 11:12 pm

    not “all” positive, if you insist. still, really, it’s great to be a gay american. or at least, it can be, if you make it great.

    yeah, i know, you resent the fact that i’m unironically happy in america.

    again, if i were you, i’d try to get off the drugs. avoid patronizing sex slaves, too (the horror of that world and the knowledge of your complicity in it rubs off on you, no matter how hard and detached you pretend to be). or not, find your own way. you’re free and responsible for your fate, as much as you hate knowing that.

  • 25. trewrtz6  |  March 2nd, 2009 at 9:52 am

    actually, I live in Eastern Europe, not in one of those “social democratic paradise”-states (unfortunately), so off the mark there.
    as for “authenticity”, that’s not the issue here. these “mexican” columns seem a bit fishy to me, because their sytle is too reminiscnet of other exiled reports, but my main point is this: you can focus all your energy into turning yourself into a cynical cold-hearted monster, who finds it “funny” or “authentic”, to glee over corpses lying around in your own city or the misery of Russian women pushed into prostitution…but ultimately the question arises: is that the best you can do with yourself?
    As in everything else, I guess you can acquire some sort of virtuosity even in this kind of cannibalistic humour, but, as someone remarked once (Donald Hebb, I think) “if it’s not worth doing, it’s not worth doing well.”
    and that’s just the problem with the whole outlook of this site.

    the other thing is that the “theory” that’s conjured up to back up this whole attitude (like “Colombians like to kill”, “Mexicans find it funny to be taken hostage”, or “Europeans are tired old pussies”, “humans are predators, that’s just the way we are”) is obviously and painfully false and silly.
    IS there much of a point of trying to hold on to this trivial, childish silliness?

  • 26. aleke  |  March 2nd, 2009 at 5:20 pm

    I just disagree. As far as social psychology goes, there is hardly a strong case for a positive outlook on humanity. I’m not trying to make a value judgement, morality doesn’t apply to human nature. Just as it doesn’t apply to any other mammal’s nature. You may think it is childish and silly to think so “cynically,” but it’s the only response to the labyrinth world of human cruelty which the Milgram experiments and Marquis de Sade just skim over. Sorry that you find it in bad taste.

  • 27. Anonymous  |  March 3rd, 2009 at 7:33 am

    Mexican life is more shit than American.

    Americans not grasping concepts is a cultural thing… I like that. I’m going to remember that line. People anywhere who’ve dealt with a lot of death anywhere joke about it, though; Iraqis and Colombians and Lebanese, for example, as well as Mexicans.

    The exile’s many columnists make a compelling argument that people everywhere are predators and do love killing each other. People everywhere do love charity and mercy and peace and quiet too, though.

    Not all prostitution is horrifying or sex slavery, although some is, and the exile staff seems to have stopped trailed off with their whore hopping, although maybe they’re still at it and just not writing about it.

    Reading and writing about the ugly interesting parts of the world is worth doing, and worth doing well, because it teaches us how these things are prevented and started and ended, and inspires us to try preventing and ending them. If I wanted to read about the pretty boring parts of the world, I’d read Hollywood or sports news.

    For that matter, the exile is a lot cleaner than it used to be. Whore-R stories stopped. Brecher stopped writing about loving BDSM porn where the men torture the women. People get tired and sane as they age, voluntarily or not.

    The problem that interests me is how to turn rough spots like Mexico into clean social democratic “paradises” like Amsterdam. Of course, my suspicion is that it requires starting and winning revolutions, and that it’s much easier just to immigrate to existing nice places, and immigrate again if things get hot, although if everyone tried to do that then the nice places would all just vanish one by one.

  • 28. captain america  |  March 3rd, 2009 at 6:42 pm

    “Not all prostitution is horrifying or sex slavery, although some is, and the exile staff seems to have stopped trailed off with their whore hopping, although maybe they’re still at it and just not writing about it.”

    in an article a while back, ames explicitly expressed his remorselessness after doing a ukrainian sex slave, this after telling her that he was buying her time simply to get her reaction to “lilya 4ever” a movie about (naturally) sexual slavery.

    as for the others, even if they’ve suddenly started to feel bad about patronising women forced into prostitution, they’re unlikely to admit it. it would detract from the hard and callous image they try to project.

  • 29. Wofl  |  March 4th, 2009 at 11:04 am

    Mexico is a shithole. It’s full of violence, poverty and fail.

    Know where a better place is than being in Mexico? Anyplace.

    Stop trying to make your home sound better than it is. It’s not. Your people are pussies, your government is full of shit, you have no money, you have nothing to benefit the rest of the world, except for tacos.

  • 30. mx?  |  March 5th, 2009 at 10:17 pm

    and what do yo have wofl?

    Your probably from some self-righteous western country who are too stupid to notice that their goverments are as full as shit, or are much worse than ours.

    Take the bush administration which borders on criminality.

    And Id still rather live in my shithole, with our great beaches, hot women, and tacos of course.

  • 31. Kotek Besar  |  March 8th, 2009 at 6:26 am

    I’d be more worried about being kidnapped for ransom.

  • 32. non-govt us citizen  |  November 17th, 2009 at 12:16 pm

    “There’s a couple of points about America’s take on Mexico’s Drug War that make me wish our people did start kidnapping your tourists for real and torturing them real nice if their families don’t offer up a juicy reward.”

    Well, that about nullified any respect for you I had built up from reading your previous articles. Wanting to punish citizen tourists (whose biggest crime is an obligatory tax payment to an omnipotent govt) all b/c of your unbridled hatred of policy as set by the elitist bureaucrats?

    and oh! how such a reaction to said policy would increase tourism to mexico exponentially! way to go! brash? no way. you’re brilliant!

    maybe those state dept warnings were more valid than you think, as they appear to be protecting us from the likes of YOU.

  • 33. pinchesnarcos  |  January 1st, 2010 at 3:23 pm

    mexico is hell on earth, i have family across the border and every week there are gun fights, kidnappings and murders. cops are all corrupt and the military are assholes. people get hassled by the cops the narcos and the soldiers. face it, these are the end of times people. shit’s only getting worse. i remember when you could go shop across the border and not have to worry about some fucking thug kidnapping you for ransom. im a mexican and you wouldn’t catch me dead in mexico now.

  • 34. Jordi Çenteño  |  August 21st, 2010 at 5:17 pm

    I stopped reading when you say violence is not aimed at civilians.

    You innocent fuck, we wish. The levels of violence have gotten out of control, some towns are virtually ghost towns by now. These narcos don’t give a flying fuck about who they kill. Entire night parties with innocent young students just having fun have ended in massacres because of thrill kills orchestrated by these narcos.

    It’s easy for you to say it because you don’t have to live in. I’m actually leaving this shithole soon and moving to Europe.

  • 35. brad  |  February 27th, 2012 at 1:11 pm

    i almost believe everything you said, but whats with all this bullshit about Iranians and Palestinians, i thought “Palestine” doesn’t exist, you must be one of those Zionist Jews who spread propaganda’s all over the web, your not different than those cartels you piece of shit

  • 36. Jibbo  |  July 10th, 2013 at 5:32 am

    Well I just got back from a business trip to Northern Mexico, an alarm went off in the facility and everyone was told to get the F out, the cartells rammed a vehicle thru the security fence, ran over a women and peppered the entire front of the building. The sneak you through the back roads by van and rediculous speed, the police a crooked and shit and will swindle you for all you are worth so always have at least $100 on yourself. At a building down from where I was working they found 20 bodies of young people that they killed and stoled there organs for the black market. I have visited Mexico many times and it all depends on where you go. Use your common sense if you go.

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