Wednesday, June 1, 2011

What's new and what's not

Back in Mexico, I'm hearing again that the cartels might be coming to Mexico City. I'm also hearing a few other scare stories that are being passed off as "new."

1) The Sinaloan narco-corrido ban is not all that new a thing. As far back as 1998, authorities have tried to ban narco-corridos. First reported effort was in Chihuahua, the effort failed.

2) As early as 2008, El Universal has run stories addressing the fear that narcos are "surrounding" the capital. Indeed, they have the capital surrounded. But that doesn't mean they want the capital for anything but a place to hide. Chapo and the Beltran Leyva brothers used to call Mexico City "el humo" (the smoke) because it offered anonymity that one couldn't find elsewhere. But they don't really want to take over turf here, in large part because the police force is so strong (and present – there are about 70,000 cops in the DF) but also because the city has well-established gangs that are hard to break into. Tepito, for instance, is considered a no-go area for drug traffickers. They can make deals with the local guys, and pay them to do work, but it's menial. Lastly, Mexico City is neither a major distribution nor transport center for trafficking – only important thing about it strategically is the airport.

3) The Mexican government says catching Chapo is a "priority." I'll believe it when I see it.

4) Mexico is not a failed state. It has one of the strongest economies in the world, job creation was nearly a record last year, FDI is up. Mexico certainly has serious problems, but it's not on the verge of collapse. Guatemala, on the other hand, might just be.

To be continued...

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