Monday, November 23, 2009

Beltrones' Past

Looking at the old NY Times article that questioned the integrity of one the 2012 presidential hopefuls, and of Mexico's most powerful politicians.


jd said...

I have no knowledge at all of the history here, but your mention of the possibility that one of MFB's enemies (even el mismisimo Senor de los Cielos) could have set him up seems via misinformation to US officials is a good point. Matt Yglesias often talks about this in relation to our Pakistan and Iraq policies: local interests have way more information about their situations than we do, allowing them to play us while pretending to be of assistance in terms of information sharing. Given that we also know that the record of US intel and political analysis along the border is, um, underwhelming, this would seem like a pretty easy play for someone looking for a smear that will last as long as the intertubes.

Separately, your mention of the various articles about Mexico in the US media reminds me that I half disagree with you about the Atlantic piece. It clearly leaves the door too far open for someone to read it and summarize as "the Mexican Army is an organized drug gang," but that's not what I decided to take from it. Most of the information covered in the piece has been written up in other places, by everyone from El Uni to Human Rights Watch. The Emilio Gutierrez story is well chronicled, and Gustavo de la Rosa isn't exactly an anonymous source. Basically, Chihuahua is the place where developments most easily lend themselves to an interpretation of conspiracy due to the very poor behavior by the military and extreme opacity/obstinacy in its attitude toward external/civilian scrutiny. Not to mention the basic fact that both human rights abuses and violence have indeed gotten significantly worse following the initial lull after the Army rolled into Juarez, with almost total impunity save the rare arrest of a sicario who applies the Wee-Bay gambit. You can't write a piece about violence in Chihuahua without discussion of these things. I do understand your frustration, but I thought it did a good job of counteracting the soldiers v. gangs frame that really has been the basic distillation of Mexico's situation and bringing home the point that it is really hard to tell what's happening when no one speak out freely.

The problems you note, however, are why I said I wished it was longer. What I thought was happening was that he was presenting the shadows re the military, and that he'd then turn to the political side, or the low-level narco side, or a different locale like Monterrey or Michoacan where the dynamics are different and give a taste of that. But no, it just stopped. What I'm saying is that in and of itself, sure, somewhat over the top, but I think it would have made a fine first chapter in a longer examination.

pc said...

The Mexican army as a drug gang line from the article I actually wrote in reference to the Bowden piece. I thought Caputo was more responsible about hedging that claim a little bit. Whatever, the truth is it's impossible to write a flawless piece about Mexican drugs, it's like writing the Great American novel. Too much material, too broad.

A drug story that combined a long look at Chihuahua with a long look at Monterrey would be really cool. It would probably need about 7000 words, which is a bit long, but would offer a more complete picture. Or better yet the Wire-like HBO series on the Mexican drug trade we talked about a few months ago. That could be really cool if it was done right.

The "Wee-Bay gambit" should be taught in criminal justice classes, if it isn't already. Great term.

jd said...

Yeah, seeing as I live in NYC, it's clearly my duty to convince HBO that this is the natural sequel to the Sopranos and Wire. Next time I run into the network mavens at a cocktail party, it's on. May have to wait til next summer's Hamptons season though, sorry.

I see your post about Loret de Mola above. His note today makes me wonder if Tamaulipas might not be in the running for the non-Chihuahua setting. Lacks Monterrey's elite element, but the Juarez vs. Nuevo Laredo hook is pretty solid.

pc said...

I hadnt seen that piece from Loret, wow that's quite an opening. Definitely helps explain the lack of violence there.

As for the HBO exec meetings, that's fair, we'll wait for your Hamptons schedule. I like Tamaulipas. Monterrey can just make cameos.