Mexican Standoff

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Rufus F.

Rufus is an American curmudgeon in Canada. He has a PhD in History, sings in a garage rock band, and does a bunch of other stuff.

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69 Responses

  1. Avatar James Hanley says:

    the President Enrique Peña Nieto is calling for calm

    Sure, why should anyone get excited about a massacre of young people? El Presidente should cadge a line from Obama and ask these people to look forward, not backward.

    At least a lot of folks are out of their seats of political power now–let’s just hope their replacements are actually a change of type, and not just a change of face.Report

    • Avatar LeeEsq in reply to James Hanley says:

      Its standard political speech for lets not let things get out of hand. There isn’t an elected politician in the world, at least any responsible one, that would call for anger and violence.Report

      • Avatar Damon in reply to LeeEsq says:

        You could also rephrase it to it’s real meaning: “Please everyone calm down so we can get back to the graft and corruption that’s at the root of this crisis!”Report

      • Avatar James Hanley in reply to LeeEsq says:

        Lee, I agree, and that’s what I’m mocking. I’m not the type to lightly call for revolution, but when your government is handing people over to be tortured by another governm….errr, killed by drug gangs, it just might be time.Report

      • Avatar North in reply to LeeEsq says:

        Correct me if I’m mistaken Proff but didn’t Obama come in and stop most of that policy? The torturing and the handing off for torture?Report

      • Avatar James Hanley in reply to LeeEsq says:

        Maybe. It’s hard to know with secret activities. But I wasn’t thinking so much of Obama as just that certain government actions justify–in my opinion–armed revolution. If you can end the actions without violence, that’s obviously better. There seems little hope of that in Mexico, and I’m not as optimistic about the U.S. as I’d like to be.Report

      • Avatar zic in reply to LeeEsq says:

        but when your government is handing people over to be tortured by another governm….errr, killed by drug gangs, it just might be time.

        And who was handing people over to be tortured? One of the concerns I have here is that we put all this stuff we call government into a single basket. But was this the Mexican Federal government? I ask because it often does seem to matter — it wasn’t Federal agents acting out of proportion in Ferguson; it was local government. (I grant it often is the federal level; you don’t need to remind me of this.) But in most cases, it’s worth unpacking the ‘who did bad thing,’ and ‘who has authority to confront bad thing,’ and I’m pushing back on the all government in the same basket because it makes the whole process much more difficult.Report

      • Avatar Jaybird in reply to LeeEsq says:

        There’s an article about it here.

        Apparently, Obama hasn’t stopped with the rendition.

        Not that he deserves criticism for not stopping with it. I mean, Bush did it first.Report

      • Avatar Chris in reply to LeeEsq says:

        And it’s not like Obama, or any American president in recent memory, has been much of a help to Mexico.

        Regardless of where the guns come from, we know where the drugs go.Report

      • Avatar LeeEsq in reply to LeeEsq says:

        James Hanley, thats the most troubling thing about this. The deep involvement between the Mexican government and the cartels. Any group in Mexico that is wants to deal with the cartels is going to also have to fight against many parts of the Mexican government.

        The Mexicans really shouldn’t look to the United States for examples of how to deal with the cartels. For the Mexicans the most appropriate example of how to fight the cartels comes from Italy and their campaign against the various organized crime organizations. The Mafia and company were deeply entwined with the Italian establishment but the Italian government eventually managed to find a good way to crack down on organize crime. The Mexican cartels are larger and more violent than Italy’s organized gangs but Italy’s solution could still be scaled up.Report

      • Avatar Rufus F. in reply to LeeEsq says:

        To jump back a bit, that’s almost exactly the same thing that I said to a friend the other night. I studied way too much history to romanticize revolution… but in this case it really seems needed.Report

      • Avatar Chris in reply to LeeEsq says:

        Will, very violenetly.

        Or rather, the mafia was in the midst of a civil war and a war against the Italian government that ultimately resulted in mass prosecution in which the mafia turned on itself. Didn’t get rid of the mafia, of course, but it was a huge step in showing that the government wasn’t entirely in its pocket.Report

      • Avatar Chris in reply to LeeEsq says:

        Also, from what I can tell, there were always anti-mafia factions within the Italian government (perhaps regional? I know the mafia’s control of the country’s territory was nowhere near as complete as the cartels’ in Mexico). These factions weren’t really able to threaten the mafia, however, until the mafia weakened itself and turned much of the populace against it through extreme and constant violence over years.

        The cartels in Mexico, though they have been fighting each other constantly for years now, have only gotten stronger and stronger as a whole. The cartels in Mexico are a sort of lesson in institutional Darwinism: they only control the amount of territory they are strong enough to control, because the moment they are weakened, other cartels will begin to take over areas they control until their territory is whittled down to a size they can defend. The cartels that control territory are only stronger for their conflicts. What’s more, they demonstrate the power of market forces in directing violence: if there are areas in which they remain relatively non-violent, it is only because it profits them to do so (e.g., the resort towns on the coasts, where they have a pretty strong presence, but remain relatively peaceful because they almost certainly profit from the tourist business in one way or another). Whever they are violent (e.g., in the north), it is because the violence is a means to making money.Report

      • Avatar LeeEsq in reply to LeeEsq says:

        The Italian judiciary also invented a type of trial called a Maxi-trial that allowed them to prosecute dozens or hundreds of mafioso at a time to save court resources.

        Like Chris said, the Mafia and other organized crime gangs in Italy were not as entrenched as the Mexican cartels. They were mainly located in the South. Northern and central Italy were comparatively free of the Mafia. The Italian establishment was also less deeply intertwined with organized crime and enough politicians and officials were able to strike when the opportunity arouse.Report

      • Avatar Glyph in reply to LeeEsq says:

        There may also be issues of scale that made the Italian mafia (comparatively) easier to handle. Mexico dwarfs Italy in both population and area. Population matters in terms of how people many are on each ‘side’, and area matters in that there are more places that are geographically remote/inaccessible, for the cartels to use as strongholds.Report

      • Avatar Burt Likko in reply to LeeEsq says:

        It also helps that in Italy, if the trial results in an acquittal, the government can start over again and again until it gets the result it wants. I don’t know if that’s an option in Mexico.Report

      • Avatar Chris in reply to LeeEsq says:

        Italy also doesn’t have the areas that are difficult (if not nearly impossible) to access with any sort of force, and with incredibly poor infrastructure and government involvement. Much of Meixco is more rural than anything in Europe for a very long time.Report

      • Avatar Rufus F. in reply to LeeEsq says:

        My only knowledge of the mafia comes from living in a big mafia city (second biggest in Canada after Montreal) and knowing lots of Italians whose families *might* or *might not* have once been mafia- but, not now! Nobody is now! (cough) Anyway, it seems like what reduced a lot of the mafia activity here were two things- 1. they killed each other off or 2. they found easier ways to go legit. The business climate improved quite a bit in the last few decades. I’ve worked in restaurants where it was just understood that, sure, they used to be, but that was a long time ago. Unless you need somebody, cause they can get you somebody…
        In other words, as long as the payoffs are higher for being legit, there’s no need to take the alternate route to prestige or money. It’s hard to see that happening in Mexico for a while.Report

      • Avatar Chris in reply to LeeEsq says:

        The war and mass trial and imprisonment so weakened the mafia that they are arguably no longer the most powerful organized crime syndicate in Italy. The ‘ndrangheta control the a large portion of the drug trade not only in Italy, but the rest of Europe, and have taken over parts of southern Italy at a level not that far below that of the cartels in parts of Mexico (emphasis mine):

        If it were not part of Italy, Calabria would be a failed state. The ‘Ndrangheta organized crime syndicate controls vast portions of its territory and economy, and accounts for at least three percent of Italy’s GDP (probably much more) through drug trafficking, extortion and usury. Law enforcement is severely hampered by a lack of both sources and resources. Calabrians have a reputation as a distant, difficult people, and their politicians are widely viewed as ineffective. Much of the region’s industry collapsed over a decade ago, leaving environmental and economic ruin. The region comes in last place in nearly every category of national economic assessments. Most of the politicians we met with on a recent visit were fatalistic, of the opinion that there was little that could be done to stop the region’s downward economic spiral or the stranglehold of the ‘Ndrangheta. A few others disingenuously suggested that organized crime is no longer a problem. Nearly every interlocutor complained that the region lacks a civil society. Amid the doom and gloom, there are a few positive signs, nearly all from young people. This most problematical of Italy’s regions will continue to be a drag on the country until the national government devotes the necessary attention and resources to solving these thorny problems.

        The ‘ndrangheta also have close relationships with drug cartels in Latin America, so the problems in Italy are not unrelated to the problems on this side of the Atlantic.Report

    • Avatar Chris in reply to James Hanley says:

      The problem in Mexico is in part that there is nothing politicians could do. I mean, I suppose if the entire political establishment, from the local to the federal level, along with the police and the military, were completely overhauled and purged overnight, you might be able to create real change, but only after an extended, bloody war (one which, it should be noted, the government has been fighting, if selectively, for some time now).

      As it is now, the problem is that anyone who might go into politics, or journalism, or the military, or the police, understands that to push back too hard agains the cartels is pretty close to a death sentence, and perhaps not just for them but for their families as well. It’s not for nothing that the police’s paramilitary forces, and in some cases the military, hide their faces in any action against the cartels.Report

      • Avatar Jaybird in reply to Chris says:

        I wonder if we might someday find that some of the cartel’s money wandered into the re-election coffers of the biggest drug warriors.

        To be honest, it’ll actually surprise me if we don’t find that that happened.Report

      • Avatar Chris in reply to Chris says:

        The cartels don’t have to give money to get the policies that benefit them the most. We provide those free of charge. Though you’re probably right, if we traced cartel money, we’d almost certainly find it in the campaign accounts of many American politicians at all levels.Report

      • Avatar Rufus F. in reply to Chris says:

        I’ve been reading a *lot* of 1920s newspapers for this book I’m working on and one of the most interesting articles I dug up was one from New York to the effect that, since prohibition had been in effect for a few years, the police found that alcohol use was unchanged, but narcotics use had tripled.Report

      • Avatar Rufus F. in reply to Chris says:

        But, further to your point, this is why I find the whole situation so desperate. I want to say lock up all the politicians and cartel members, and then, well, you have to lock up the police too, and….Report

    • Avatar Glyph in reply to James Hanley says:

      “This is supposed to be a happy occasion! Let’s not bicker and argue about who killed who.”Report

  2. Avatar LeeEsq says:

    The one thing that the American government can do is not remove undocumented aliens back to Mexico. Sending people back to Mexico under these circumstances is a deeply immoral thing to do.Report

    • Avatar Damon in reply to LeeEsq says:

      That’s not OUR frickin problem. You want in here, do it the legal correct way. We are not a haven for your f’ed up society. Fix it there, don’t flee here.Report

      • Avatar Kim in reply to Damon says:

        Damon,
        Shall I give you a link to some child labor-produced glassware? You can support them staying there, rather than coming here.
        I can even give you recommendations as to which ones will produce more burn scars or less on the children.

        … they’re orphans.Report

      • Avatar LeeEsq in reply to Damon says:

        American appetites and policies are causing a lot of the chaos in Mexico, so yes its our freaking problem.Report

      • Avatar Jesse Ewiak in reply to Damon says:

        If you’re an unskilled laborer from Mexico, there is no way to enter America legally. There’s not even a “line” to get into.Report

      • Avatar Glyph in reply to Damon says:

        @damon – @leeesq is right. If you accept that Prohibition is the engine largely driving this mess, well…we built that.Report

      • Avatar James Hanley in reply to Damon says:

        Come one, @damon, join me in believing in liberty for all people, not just those we grudgingly extend it to. Tight borders are just a form of cartelization and rent-seeking, my friend.Report

      • Avatar Damon in reply to Damon says:

        @kim

        Not in the market for glassware atm, but thanks.
        @leeesq @glyph

        It’s not our problem to solve by letting them in here. We solve the problem by ending prohibition. But even if WE caused it with our ravenous drug desire, it’s not our responsibility to taken in refugees UNLESS we decide to, and we’ve decided not to do so so far.Report

      • Avatar Glyph in reply to Damon says:

        @damon I think “our ravenous drug desire” undersells our complicity in this mess. It’s not just (or even mostly) our “desire”; it’s our Prohibition, and our strongly pushing Mexico (and the rest of the world) to go along with that Prohibition.

        That is, our *actions* caused this.

        Is it your position that that places no obligation on us at all, to try to help people displaced by something we are largely responsible for?

        I mean, obviously we should dismantle Prohibition.

        But if in the meantime people are fleeing the kind of place where decapitated heads are rolling in the streets, and our policies helped set that in motion…Report

      • Avatar Damon in reply to Damon says:

        @james-hanley

        Open borders is pretty much the only major point I differ from full hard core Libertarians. You want liberty in your country. Work for it. Then you won’t need to come here. 🙂Report

      • Avatar James Hanley in reply to Damon says:

        Damon,

        At least there’s one point on which I out-libertarian you. I henceforth declare that “the” defining point for true libertarianism.Report

      • Avatar Damon in reply to Damon says:

        @glyph

        Sure, it’s our foreign policy. Not disputing that.

        “Is it your position that that places no obligation on us at all, to try to help people displaced by something we are largely responsible for?” Try to help, perhaps not. But allow people into our country because of it? No. Under that model, we should be letting in most of the world since we’ve managed to screw up large tracks of it.Report

      • Avatar Damon in reply to Damon says:

        @james-hanley

        Game over man, game over. You win! 🙂Report

      • Avatar j r in reply to Damon says:

        We are not a haven for your f’ed up society.

        Historically, that is exactly what America is.Report

      • Avatar Glyph in reply to Damon says:

        @damon – see, this is why I don’t always fit in, even amongst the political misfits.

        I kinda feel like if we forced our neighbor to do all his cooking with gasoline and matches, and he burned his house down, we maybe oughta let him stay in our garage or something.Report

      • Avatar James Hanley in reply to Damon says:

        Our ancestors were kicked out of some of the best countries in the world!Report

      • Avatar j r in reply to Damon says:

        @damon by the way, the real response to your statement is who exactly is the “we” in your conception of things.

        I am an American and I am about as pro-immigration as it gets. If I want to hire a non-American citizen, rent him an apartment, conduct in trade with him, who are you to tell me that I cannot.

        Posing this as an us vs them matter presupposes a whole bunch of support and moral authority that just is not there.Report

      • Avatar Jesse Ewiak in reply to Damon says:

        +1 to what @j-r said.

        Being the place to go if your country is f’d up, systematically biased against your ethnicity or religious group, and so on, is how we became a nation of 330 million people.

        I mean, to my own past, I’m pretty nobody named Ewiak was on the Mayflower.Report

      • Avatar j r in reply to Damon says:

        By the way, that line is so perfect that I keep thinking up other responses. And eff it, I’m going to use them.

        We are not a haven for your f’ed up society.

        – translated from the original CherokeeReport

      • Avatar j r in reply to Damon says:

        We are not a haven for your f’ed up society.

        – paraphrased from remarks made by Benjamin Franklin on why we must oppose the current wave of Germanic immigrationReport

      • Avatar j r in reply to Damon says:

        We are not a haven for your f’ed up society.

        – as relied by an associate of Samuel Gompers on why he supported the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882Report

      • Avatar James Hanley in reply to Damon says:

        We are not a haven for your f’ed up society.

        Every country in the world in 1938 to German Jews.Report

      • Avatar Citizen in reply to Damon says:

        Y’all do know that if we bring in more statists than anti-statist, Damon wins the trophy.

        And there is an outside chance that in the race to the bottom immigration only amounts to navigating around more carcasses on the route to the water hole.Report

      • Avatar j r in reply to Damon says:

        Y’all do know that if we bring in more statists than anti-statist, Damon wins the trophy.

        Only if the categories “statist” and “anti-statist” have any actual validity as political taxonomy; if those categories have some statistically valid correlation with a person’s country of origin; and if those categories are so robust that they remain immune to change over years and over generations.

        But yeah, if all that is the case, then maybe you guys have a point.Report

      • Avatar LeeEsq in reply to Damon says:

        @citizen, are you actually arguing that its perfectly fine not to help people simply because they might be “statist” rather than “anti-statist” or more precisely hold beliefs about government that only a few well-off white men hold?Report

      • Avatar Damon in reply to Damon says:

        @jr

        “We” are Americans. Citizens or those folks who can vote in this country. We get to decide this. We’ve have not had a real immigration debate and decision in a very long time. It’s generally ignored by the presidential candidates. No doubt that’s because politicians try to avoid work, hard decisions, and anything that might not get them re-elected. Oh, and “we” doesn’t include unilateral presidential directives, not that the republicans have been any good either…..Report

      • Avatar Murali in reply to Damon says:

        @damon

        its pretty rich of you to invoke a “we” and “us” in this case when you are such a thoroughgoing individualist elsewhere.Report

      • Avatar Mike Schilling in reply to Damon says:

        We are not a haven for your f’ed up society.

        What the Native Americans should have said to the Pilgrims.Report

      • Avatar Stillwater in reply to Damon says:

        Individualistic populism? (I dunno, but nice observation Murali.)

        I remember reading a story in The Papers a while ago (during the metrosexual wave) about how m-dudes were inspired to get near identical haircuts because, and this was supported by quotations, each of them thought getting *that type* of haircut affirmed their individuality.Report

      • Avatar Jaybird in reply to Damon says:

        What’s the justification for telling people that they can’t live and/or work here, again?

        I might be able to understand the whole “you can’t come here and immediately get on welfare” argument, I suppose… but I don’t understand telling someone that they can’t come here and be upstanding members of the society.

        I mean, forcing these people to hang out with and perhaps even become criminals will work about as well as Prohibition did.Report

      • Avatar Murali in reply to Damon says:

        @stillwater

        Report

      • Avatar Citizen in reply to Damon says:

        @ Jaybird
        “What’s the justification for telling people that they can’t live and/or work here, again?”

        “That no person who disbelieves in or who is opposed to all organized government,”

        Something a few well-off white men created.Report

      • Avatar Rufus F. in reply to Damon says:

        Shoot, I just got a genuine snakeskin jacket when I wanted a symbol of my individuality and my belief in personal freedom.Report

      • Avatar Glyph in reply to Damon says:

        PLEASE tell me your snakeskin jacket has a Gadsden on the back. That’d be super-ironic.Report

      • Avatar Damon in reply to Damon says:

        @murali
        As I told James, it’s one of the few issues I differ from Libertarians on. Yep, I’m a man of contradictions.

        As to what Jaybird asks”mm “What’s the justification for telling people that they can’t live and/or work here, again?” That would be: “because we said so”. Foreigners don’t get to decide who we, as americans, decide who can come into our country.Report

    • Avatar Mark Thompson in reply to LeeEsq says:

      @leeesq Since this is, as I recall, your area of expertise, what kind of effect would these events have on the ability of Mexican immigrants to seek political asylum in the US?Report

      • Avatar LeeEsq in reply to Mark Thompson says:

        To get political asylum, you need to establish past persecution or a well-founded fear of future persecution on account of political opinion, race, nationality, religion, or member in a particular social group.

        A persecutor need not be a government official. Private people or groups that a government can not or will not control can be persecutors.

        Many young people from Central America and their lawyers try to argue for asylum on the basis of particular social group.

        The success of the application depends a lot on the officials hearing the case. Official policy doesn’t look that kindly on giving asylum because of rampant crime but some immigration judges are more sympathetic than others.Report

      • @leeesq Thanks. What role would government complicity in the rampant crime play?Report

      • Avatar LeeEsq in reply to Mark Thompson says:

        Government complicity would fall under the government unwilling to control the persecutors.Report

  3. Avatar Murali says:

    @damon

    Down here

    If you are so worried about foreign statists voting (though it is entirely unclear whether they are any more statist than your home-grown ones) then you should be okay if they came in as guest workers and permanent residents. i.e. they could work here, pay taxes here, but not have the right to vote. It seems like a decent compromise. You don’t impede freedom of contract and movement and the people who come in don’t get to vote away other people’s freedoms. Would you go for that?Report

    • Avatar Damon in reply to Murali says:

      @murali

      I’d like to correct your assumption that I’m worried about “foreign statists”. I’m not. The entire issue for me is the illegality of the entry and that there are no effective limits. Frankly, if we, as a society, decided to only allow in rich chinese women, aged 50-55, who promised to donate 1m dollars to the national zoo, I’d be fine with that, because that’s what WE decided. We have the right to set the terms of foreigners entering our country, how many, and for how long they can stay.

      I would agree to your compromise on one condition. That being that we also can specify the maximum number that can be enter in a year and/or a maximum in country at one time.Report