Thursday, February 27, 2014

Hold Your Applause

El Chapo was arrested on Saturday. Some of you probably don't even know who that is and couldn't give two shits, but if you live in the Americas or Europe, you should and you should.

Joaquín Guzmán Loera aka El Chapo (Shorty) is a Mexican drug lord who was so successful in drug trade that he has been ranked on Forbes magazine's list of the most powerful people in the world every year since 2009. He was the head of the Sinaloan drug cartel which imports more cocaine, meth, heroin and marijuana into the US than any other cartel in the world.

Not only do I try to steer clear of discussing the cartels for my safety but I tend to avoid drug-war coverage in the media for my own sanity. In 2010, at the height of the violence in Juárez, it was difficult to convince myself that I was safe when I was getting a running report of the day's homicides every evening on the news. So I stopped watching the news and just read selectively online. But the news of El Chapo's arrest could not be avoided. I first heard about it while scrolling my Twitter feed on Saturday morning. Twitter is my go-to news source on the weekends because NPR comes in all fuzzy on Gordo's old boom box and like I said, I'm not really a fan of televised news anymore. There is was, plain as day.


@AP
BREAKING: US official: Sinaloa drug chief 'Chapo' Guzman arrested by US, Mexican authorities in Mexico.

Hold your applause.

I am not happy with his arrest and I am not sorry to say so. The Mexican and American governments want to thrust their clasped hands in the air on the podium as the crowd cheers for their victory. Screw that.

My initial reaction is to feel that it's only a matter of time before someone else takes his place, and this may mean little more than a new slew of bloody turf wars for Mexico to deal with. Border cities in particular. I do not doubt that there is a plan already put into place in the event of his capture, but take a minute to think about that.

Let's say you work for a company that has a plan set in place in the event that your boss is out ill. Let's say all of the daily duties have been assigned and everyone knows what they are supposed to do. Does everyone follow the plan? Probably not. One guy doesn't like the tasks he was assigned but never mentioned it before because he never thought he'd actually have to do them. Another guy really likes your boss but isn't a big fan of the person who's in charge today so he's just going to go work to the beat of his own drum. And then you've got the guy who thinks he's been under-appreciated this whole time and should have been given more responsibilities from the get-go so he's going to take matters into his own hands.

Are you following me here?

Someone else will put on Chapo's twisted business suit faster than we can count to 3 and there's going to be plenty of disagreements throughout the drug world in the process. And violence will escalate once again. It's a hard pill for me to swallow considering my querido Juaritos is just starting to put the pieces back together from the last war. Although I suppose that war never really did end.

I saw journalists and politicians on Twitter praising the DEA and Mexican officials for this arrest. They were calling it a "win" against the drug war. But if you ask me, this wasn't a win.

A win would be redistributing tax dollars and making improvements to the educational system in Mexico by providing free public prepa so that all children have the chance to get a quality education. A win would be the US ending prohibition and shutting off the demand for other countries to import narcotics illegally. A win would be setting up job placement programs for young men and women so that they have career opportunities and aren't compelled to join the cartel or immigrate to the US illegally out of financial desperation.

This arrest was many things, but it wasn't a win.

22 comments:

  1. Shannon... just another wife in exileFebruary 27, 2014 at 11:04 PM

    I agree 100%. I too live in a border town and when I heard the news I sat down on the couch and told my husband I think I am going to throw up. There can be nothing good come of this.... pray for Mexico.

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    1. Shannon, not sure which border town you live in but how have the last couple of weeks been in your neck of the woods? The streets have been oddly calm here. I can't help but wonder how long that will last?

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  2. Cynically, I always think when something this big happens that it is a diversion tactic staged by government (any). However, I get where you are coming from, this is not a win for "the people" but then I do not believe that "the people" actually matter to that big cartel we all call government (any). Stay safe....

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    1. I'm the same way. I can't help but assume that there was a political strategy of some sort behind his capture... Stay safe as well amiga.

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  3. Well said, Emily. I'm in Col. Los Alamos. Seeing your post via Debbie N. It would good to meet you while I'm visiting from Califas. Take care, Carlos

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    1. Thanks. I love to meet new people so just shoot me an email. :)

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  4. Its not just border towns either. My friends and family in Culicacan and other parts of Sinaloa (his home state) are definitely scared. I am there at least twice a year for a few weeks or a month, and my family there has always felt safe. El Chapo kept a tight rein on his people there, meaning that individuals not involved in his trade didn't worry about their safety. He also in many ways was a benefactor of the area. Not to play him up as a great guy or anything, but especially when the alternative is Zeta- style insane violence and a huge turf war, I'd take el chapo any day. He is the lesser of two evils by far. Most people I know in Culiacan regard him as an old school godfather type, yeah, you don't want to fuck with him, but he's not gonna go out of his way to hurt you either.
    So I completely agree with you. A power vacuum will is created by his removal that will create chaos and open the door to leaders with more ruthless methods. and as well as the border towns, his areas of influence will be greatly impacted, like Sinaloa and Baja Sur y norte. I'll have yall in my prayers.

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    1. I completely agree. This is not just a safety issue for border towns, and not even just for Mexico. This affects way more people than most would like to admit. I hope your friends and family stay safe. Thanks for the well wishes.

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  5. Agreed. I have always focused more on the demand portion of the issue. It doesnt matter WHO is wewring the twisted suit, since the truth is that as long as there is a demand someone will step up to the plate (doing whatever necessary) to supply said need. As you said, now we get to witness possible bloodshed (more) over territory disputes and inner fighting amoungst current or wanna be Chapo replacements. Does this mean less drugs on the streets of America? Absolutely not. Sorry.
    And besides all that, everyone i know thinks the whole thing is a hoax, someone told me he opened a ranch (with cows and everything) in Oklahoma (of all places?) and is being protected by the DEA ,CIA , all the abbreviated organizations out there. Elvis probably also lives on his ranch. :/

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    1. There are some pretty far-fetched theories out there. But honestly, some of them are half-believable. You never know what powerful people and governments are up to.

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  6. Well said, Emily. I could not agree more. I'm not a drug user (though I guess beer and coffee are drugs) but I have long felt that we in the US waste so much money on this "war on drugs" when in reality, we could offer free stays at the Betty Ford Clinic for anyone society deemed addicted if we just spent that money differently. Until we make the moving of drugs less profitable, the cartels will be in business, and the name on the bosses door won't matter.

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    1. I completely agree. There are far better things to be pumping billions of dollars into other than this so-called war on drugs. Rehabilitation would definitely be a good one.

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  7. 2 words for you..AMEN SISTER!

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  8. I guess my only cred for having an opinion is that I live in New Mexico. What troubles me is that if you don't advocate catching him then he gets to continue being King and murdering to his heart's content who he wants when he wants. Leaving Hitler in place because his surviving henchmen would be dangerous wouldn't have been a solution. Surely. I do love your blog, read it faithfully and wish you and hubby all the best.

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    1. I get where you are coming from but comparing El Chapo with Hitler just doesn't make sense. El Chapo was the head of an organization that is providing a product that is in high demand. Hitler was selling an idea. I'm over-simplifying here but I hope you get my point. There was no demand for Hitler's idea in the big picture of the world which is why he had no true successor. There is a demand for drugs in this world and arresting Chapo does nothing to squash that demand. There are countless drug lords who can and will continue in his footsteps and arresting him has no impact on the quantity of drugs flowing out of Mexico.

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  9. Absolutely true, Em. The day after I got to Mazatlan, a friend from Baja messaged me to ask if it was influencing my visit. I had to hear it from BAJA and there I am in Mazatlan! It was like a carnival; people getting their photos taken in front of the condo, t.v. crews, etc. Nothing will change and it is all stupid publicity but now we get to watch and see how he will make his next escape. LOL. The Sinaloa cartel is the strongest and you know all was in place for something like this happening. Bet Chapo doesn't have to live in a cell with scorpions and the smell of piss!

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  10. I completely agree with you on this and when I express this opinion people look at me like I am nuts. I also lived in Juarez with my family for a while and I so enjoy your blog def will suggest it to others

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