Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Famous last words...

Osiel Cardenas Guillen, the head of the Gulf cartel, recently pleaded guilty in a US court. He got 25 years. These were his last words...

"I apologize to my country, Mexico, to the United States of America, my family, to my wife especially, my children, for all the mistakes I made. I feel that this time that I have spent in jail, I have reflected and I've realized the so ill behavior that I was maintaining, and truthfully, I am remorseful.I also apologize to all of the people that I hurt directly and indirectly. That's all, your honor."

Seriously, that's all? This guy, a man who murdered or ordered the murder of maybe thousands and sent thousands of others off to jail because they worked for him, is "remorseful"? This guy, who once threatened an FBI and DEA agent (‘You fucking gringos. This is my town, so get the fuck out of here before I kill you,’ he told them in Matamoros)? This guy, who has a stone cold killer's look that is so deep in his eyes that it appears his soul has completely disappeared?

I believe anyone has the right to repent and go good. I also believe that drug traffickers are not inherently bad people. (Although they certainly have a bad way of conducting business.) They are businesspeople, struggling to survive in a brutal world where laws don't apply.

I guess what I'm saying is that I'd have preferred a more honest admission of guilt from Cardenas Guillen. When the US judge shamed him by mentioning children, pregnant women and other innocents the narco has employed and effectively sentenced to a life behind bars or worse, I would have preferred he say: "Look, your honor, with all due respect, you and I live in two different worlds. In my world, we survive by fear, killing and exploitation. This is the reality of my world. In your world, you have law and order, meritocracy, and chances to start over. In my world, an apology gets you killed."

I've spoken to several drug trafficker prisoners here in Mexico, and they all expressed a remorse not unlike Cardenas Guillen's. They all admit they've taken the "wrong" path in life. They all express a willingness to go straight once they get out of prison. They all know deep down – and I know, too – that most of them won't, and that they're lying. But their faces can't hide the truth – their anguish, anxiety and conflict is obvious to the point that they appear tortured.

I would have liked to see Cardenas Guillen's face during the sentencing. I doubt it revealed any emotion or reality whatsoever.

PS - In the transcript of the sentencing, the judge makes an interesting freudian slip. Instead of saying "God judges you," she says "Judge judges [you]." Mistaking yourself for god now, are you?

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