Monday, June 18, 2007
When Rules Are Broken in Mexico and Elsewhere
By Carlos Luken
A new page was scripted last week in Mexico’s nonstop saga of violence as Mario Cesar Gutierrez, a congressman
from the northern state of Nuevo Leon, was assassinated mafia style as he left the state congress building.
After a tsunami of violence hit the nation, resulting in hundreds of gang related murders that spilled over to many
innocent victims, gruesome beheadings of police officers and countless kidnappings and disappearances, few people thought
anything could surprise the already shell-shocked Mexican population. But having a sitting politician join the ranks of the
thousands of victims of organized crime was outrageous.
Or was it?
In 1986, at the age of 20, Gutierrez was apprehended for possessing with intent to sell 12 kilos of marihuana, valued
then at $1 million pesos. He subsequently rose through the ranks of the Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI), and became
an affluent and murky political figure selected as a state congressman after a losing 2006 bid to gain a federal seat.
Many now ask, how does a former pusher obtain such political preference? Well … duh!
Until recently most world governments subsisted by recognizing their internal legal or illegal
power groups, and endeavoring to bring them together into accommodating workable relationships.
Accommodating conflicting forces and interests was never a moral issue; it was seldom kosher
or democratic. It was simply an expedient mathematical equation that collected the greatest number of groups, empowering them
in order to spawn a sheltered workable environment in which all ultimately benefited.
Understandably these associations were governed by generally accepted unwritten rules that controlled
their activities and limited their territories.
To conserve control, regimes made arrangements with political opponents, radicals, guerrillas
and even criminals.
However this process harbored a fundamental flaw. It was rigid and disregarded dynamic human
conditions. Acceptable alliances changed with swings in collective needs, human values or customs. When they did adjustments
were mandatory, as chaos ensued and dictated that a new set of rules be drawn.
This process was universal, and historic European, Middle Eastern and Asian societies were early
examples. They were followed by the 20th century United States, and recently Latin American and African nations have suffered
the consequences of changing alliances as the appeasement of revolutionary forces and organized crime became undesirable.
Political analysts believe that Mexico’s drug cartel wars and generalized violence erupted mainly because of
the removal of the political corruption adhesive that bonded rival criminal mobs in an unlikely peace within accepted territorial
boundaries. For many years it was alleged that federal and state government officials, during the seven-decade PRI rule, would
offer protection and territorial integrity to organized crime gangs in exchange for financial gain and peacefulness.
Once narcotics trade mushroomed into an uncontrollable global crisis, the existence of the pacts
became international and national embarrassments. In Mexico the aged PRI began losing power, and a new breed of politicians
from all parties gained authority and disdained the arrangements, and drug cartels were let loose to seek their own accommodations.
Initially alliances were hurriedly made and territories defined, but once the incredible profits were realized cartels became
insatiable and went after each other, turning the country into a war zone.
It’s easy and reassuring to criticize Mexico’s tribulations. It is also hypocritical.
There is hardly a nation that can cast the first stone.
The European Community’s appeasement of Middle Eastern belligerence in order to safeguard
its own interests; China’s gigantic slave employment, and wholesale environmental pollution, for the sake of economic
growth; the U.S. reluctance to use its sophisticated electronic intelligence technology to curtail drug cartel smuggling and
distribution, instead of focusing efforts on preventing access to powerless migrants who are being illegally recruited to
work as part of a convenient economic strategy; or the international community’s
schizophrenic acknowledgement and denial of Venezuela’s modern day Mussolini,
Hugo Chavez, and his blatant efforts to destabilize Latin America, are only some examples of today’s universal hypocrisy.
The world has witnessed amazing events in recent decades; humanity has progressed beyond the
wildest imagination of last century’s statesmen. Globalization has taken a much broader dimension than its original
Lilliputian economic significance, but aside from the European Union’s confused survival most national governmental
and international organizations are still conducting business with the last century’s methods. They have stubbornly
ignored the many profound and significant transformations that have, in Thomas Friedman’s terminology, “Flattened
And now a complete renovation of written and unwritten rules is needed, to help realize social,
cultural, educational, environmental, scientific and peaceful coexistence and development.
Carlos Luken, a MexiData.info columnist, is a Mexico-based businessman and consultant. He can
be reached via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.