2011 July 31 Sunday
Mitt Romney's Relatives In Dangerous Mexico
Mitt Romney's ancestors fled to Mexico for some years back in the 19th century. A Washington Post article takes a look at the few dozen Romneys that still remain in Colonia Juarez Mexico. A third of the population of 500 are traced back to the United States. The violence in Mexico is a present danger to the Romney clan and other Mormons of Colonia Juarez.
Meredith Romney was opening the gate to his sprawling cattle ranch in the Sierra Madre mountains two years ago when he was ambushed by three men in ski masks. They clubbed him with their pistol butts, put a hood over his head and stuffed him in the back of a sport-utility vehicle as his wife and grandson looked on. Then they drove him deep into the mountains.
“They told me, ‘We’ve been watching you for a month,’ ” Meredith said.
He was marched down a canyon and tied up in a cave for three days, until the family paid an undisclosed sum to get him back. “I just figured my time was up,” Meredith said, shaking his head. “I later found out they’d kidnapped 18 people and killed 14 of them.”
Corrupt local officials who shake down honest businesses and who are in cahoots with big criminal gangs. Scared people.
The kids are kept in-doors much more and they all travel much less.
“We’re sort of like sitting ducks down here, but nobody wants to leave,” said Jeff Romney, whose friend, a local ceramic artist, was kidnapped, tortured and killed recently; he was found with his genitals severed and stuffed in his mouth. This month was the first time in a year that Jeff had driven from El Paso to see his parents
Another Washington Post piece looks at how the rising violence in Mexico is cutting the flow of illegal aliens from Central America headed to the United States. They get kidnapped, robbed, raped, killed. The article has details.
The soaring number of attacks on migrants in Mexico, and the widely dispersed news of their barbarity, is discouraging many Central Americans from even attempting the trip to the United States, according to immigration officials, human rights advocates and the travelers themselves.
Illegal drug flows thru Mexico are a large part (but not the only part) of the problem. If the US is going to continue to keep recreational drugs illegal (and I think parents and grandparents will continue to demand this) the US government ought to try much harder to stop that flow. The US ought to build a formidable barrier along the entire US border with Mexico. This will help insulate us from the violence and reduce the drug flow. It will also decrease the amount of violence in northern Mexico. This should be combined with heavy searching of cargo traveling across the border to cut the land-based drug flow. If the north of Mexico ceases to be a useful drug movement staging ground then it will become a relatively less violent place. We'll also benefit from a smaller number of impoverished people in the US than would otherwise be the case.
By Randall Parker at 2011 July 31 06:14 PM
"The soaring number of attacks on migrants in Mexico, and the widely dispersed news of their barbarity, is discouraging many Central Americans from even attempting the trip to the United States, according to immigration officials, human rights advocates and the travelers themselves."
Sounds good to me.
A paid militia by the right-winged organizations in USA,operating in Mexico to stop the income of immigrants to the United States? sounds logical to me. In the middle of the violence in the country, there's always a space to make ends meet!
Randall, if one decides to interdict drug flows to the United States from South and Central America via Mexico by erecting one or more barriers, it seems the regions near Coatzacoalcos and Juchitan de Zaragoza are the places to do it.
"The US ought to build a formidable barrier along the entire US border with Mexico. This will help insulate us from the violence and reduce the drug flow. It will also decrease the amount of violence in northern Mexico."
It would also be that rare government jobs program that actually increases quality of life.
"A paid militia by the right-winged organizations in USA,operating in Mexico to stop the income of immigrants to the United States? sounds logical to me. In the middle of the violence in the country, there's always a space to make ends meet!"
Sounds right to me
What I don't understand is why these cartels such as the Zetas are doing all of this violence in the first place. Except for the fact that the product they are transporting and selling is illegal, these cartels are like any other business in that their purpose is to make money. "Express" kidnappings (kidnapping for ransom) can make money. However, this kidnapping as well as the torture/killing of illegal migrants does not strike me as a profitable enterprise at all. Kidnapping illegal migrants is stupid because they are poor. They and their families have no money to pay for ransom. Also, it attracts unwanted attention of law enforcements, governments, and the international community at large. Why would you want this bullshit if you're running a criminal organization?
If I were running one of these cartels, I would certainly kill anyone in the organization that got out of line, or any outsider who threatened the organization (and of course I would kill "rats"). However, I certainly would not kill those who had nothing to do with it, certainly no migrant workers or busloads of strangers. I would run it a lot like the Cali Cartel of Columbia, who kept a relatively low profile, but made shiploads of money. Even the Medellin cartel was never this much out of control. Sure, they car-bombed politicians and military officials who threatened their business. But they never targeted random strangers. The M.O. of these cartels and their senseless violence, particularly that of the Zetas, makes no sense at all from a profitability standpoint.
@Abelard: I suspect the extreme violence can be regarded as a cheap (for the perpetrator) way to gain credibility as a crazy, violent, threatening dude. Same for a whole group of violent criminals; it's a way to try to both deter aggression and increase the odds of getting paid if you do take a hostage that's valuable. Of course, it's also possible that trying to analyze them as rational actors is a mistake and that they really are just randomly evil.
In any case I find it interesting that the hostage-taking by Somali pirates is much more civilized than that by these kidnappers. I expect the fact that the insurance companies are more disciplined and rational negotiators than the average relative of someone kidnapped in Mexico has a lot to do with it. They supposedly won't talk to you (as a Somali pirate) if you have ever deliberately killed a hostage, even if it's not one of theirs.
You raise a great question: Why are the Zetas so violent? Also, how much of the kidnapping and killing is done by one of the cartels or just by freelancers? Maybe guys get paid to be killers by a cartel and then they become immune from the police and they act violent in other situations that are not work-related?
I do not understand Mexican society well enough to explain this. Obviously, we have examples of other organized crime groups that are much more controlled about their violence.
It's not just about the money. It's about the desire to have power. Carrying
out assasinations and bombings in an unrestrained manner demonstrates that they're
more powerful than the government. It also serves as a recruiting tool for macho young men without
much in scruples.
Yes, it unneccesarily antagonizes people. It also feeds the ego of some very unrestrained, testosterone
addled alpha males that enjoy the spectacle. These guys enjoy the thrill of being feared by the public
and respected by young male homeboy population They also assume, probably correctly, that the Mexican public
is too fatalistic to do anything except put up with the violence and that the bueracrats/police/politcians
can be bought off.
People aren't always rational. My guess is that Mexico, being a society with a low mean IQ and a tradition
of romanticizing la revolution, is a pretty good place to be for a cartel organization.
Everything you said is true about Columbia as well. Yet, none of the Colombian cartels acted as the Mexican cartels, particularly the Zetas, do today. Of the Colombian cartels, the Medellin group was, by far, the most violent. They were notorious for car-bombing law enforcement, military officers, and judges who went up against them. They had quite a reputation for such violence. Yet, they never engaged in the kind of grotesque random violence against migrant workers or villagers that the Zetas do routinely. Additionally, all of the Colombian cartels made huge amounts of money. There has to be some other explanation.
Here's the comment deleted earlier:
The WaPo article states that Kent Romney donated to Mitt's previous campaigns. I wonder if Kent is a US citizen - donations by foreigners to US political campaigns are illegal.
"I do not understand Mexican society well enough to explain this. Obviously, we have examples of other organized crime groups that are much more controlled about their violence."
Drug trade is a very important economic activity for Mexico and much of Latin America. Presidents have benefitted from it. Many campaigns for office -govenors, mayors, presidents- have been supported by this economic activity and "companies" or carteles, just like oil and soda companies have helped American presidents into power. Trying to get rid of drug cartels in Latin America is like trying to get rid of oil companies in the U.S.
Besides many of this drug lords are very religious and they exercise this violence "in God's name". So when you believe you are the tool of Divine Will, your thirst for blood and cruelty becomes that of the Crusades and the Inquisition.
Remember the newly formed Mexican cartel "the Knight Templars"?