Monday, March 29, 2010

Fernández on Tijuana

There are examples of things being done better: one of them is Tijuana. Of course drug trafficking hasn't been ended in that city. But the simple comparison of life today with what happened several months ago is notable, but it hasn't been registered by society because the authorities haven't wanted to exhibit it. Nothing is simpler than launching a provocation to "demonstrate" that those advances aren't true.

What's happened in Tijuana? A few things: the municipal government of Jorge Hank Rhon left office; a thorough project of cleaning up the policy was carried out; the state and municipal government got involved; the federation sent military, police, and federal forces that worked with a unified local command and dealt out extremely tough blows to the organized crime groups in the region. There is no other remedy or exit: the same must happen in Ciudad Juárez and Reynosa, Nuevo Laredo and Matamoros, to change the reality and the perception, break or mitigate the stagnation.
This is all the more striking because the city's biggest narco was arrested in January, which typically means warfare between the underlings. One thing that I think has been truly absent from the debate over Juárez (and elsewhere) is an explanation of why exactly Calderón's policy didn't tamp down violence, beyond broadsides against the use of the army. This column doesn't really dive into the specific differences between the policy in Tijuana and elsewhere, but it's a step in that direction. Although my worry is that the differences in government policy between Tijuana and elsewhere aren't that significant, and the reasons for the decline in violence in the former are due more than anything to dynamics at play within the criminal world, over which the government has little direct control.


malcolm beith said...

it's interesting how commentators like to blame Hank Rhon for the troubles in Tijuana. As much as the guy may reek of corruption/sleaze, his administration was no better or worse than any other in TJ. he at the very least had some community-building programs, and helped out the poor more than previous mayors. the city started its real collapse in the late 90s, when the Arellano Felix brothers destroyed all semblance of security.
as for Tijuana being better off now, i agree, and definitely don't put it down to the army strategy; i believe the theory that Chapo's taken over, and that his dominance there allows for stability.

pc said...

Yeah I thought that was underdeveloped also. No doubt that Hank Rhon is a scummy guy, but he gets more attention that another dirty pols just because he's so flamboyant about it. Beyond his obnoxiousness, maybe he was that much worse than all of the other Tijuana mayors, but no one's really made that case. The striking thing about Tijuana is that el Teo got arrested two months ago now and nothing has happened. That's pretty odd.

The Real Tijuana said...

Jesús Blancornelas's analysis was that the PAN has sided with the cartels of Juárez and Sinaloa while the PRI sided with CAF (Cártel Arellano-Félix). His conclusion is plausible, if not only because it represents a half a century of research but also because it is consistent with current events. Crimes simply go unresolved in Juárez and the wave of violence that Tijuana experienced occurred when the PRI and the CAF sat in the mayor's chair.

It is not just commentators who credit Hank Rhon for Tijuana's present condition: most of us who live here concur. He ran for office on the promise that his connections to the CAF would ensure our security! During his administration, his personal entourage engaged regularly in armed confrontations with our state police. Municipal police became so corrupt that they robbed citizens and tourists in broad daylight – and this is what turned Avenida Revolución into a ghost town, not WHTI – his cops even bragged about that. When he left power, he cleaned out City Hall including carpets, desks, and computers. He left us with so few trash trucks that collection, which used to be twice weekly, had to be suspended completely for several months; even now the new trucks are available only once a week. Our last wave of violence, of unconscionable proportions, occurred between the last two elections, when the PRI lost throughout the state and Hank Rhon was denied the governorship.

As for helping our poor, the only thing that comes to mind was him going to Maclovio Rojas (our poorest neighborhood) in his US$800,000 car to hand out tortas in exchange for votes.

Even Jerry Sanders would have made a better mayor.

pc said...

TRT thanks for the comment from on the ground. Id not heard that about him cleaning out the municipal office, certainly fits with the profile.

The Real Tijuana said...

Our city hall is not a simple municipal office like you saw in La ley de Herodes. It is a block square and three stories tall. There are still parts where the flooring is plain concrete but, on the bright side, they now have a very modern computer network.

What Hank Rhon did to City Hall is the least of our worries, though, and was most likely mere spitefulness on his part.

Inasmuch as don Gancho uses this blog to deal with politics, we may as well mention that Hank Rhon does not appear to have the power he once did. His control in our state used to be almost complete, what with being a good friend of Salinas de Gortari and with his connection to the CAF and with his being the favorite parishioner of Cardinal Sandoval of Jalisco (aquí empieza la patria y aquí empezó su birete) but many powerful members of the PRI have broken ranks since Hank Rhon became mayor. Even though their lives were threatened for having done so.

We have another mayoral election in the offing. Hank Rhon can't run but he tried to put his wife up for the job. Funny story about IEPCBC
(the local IFE) regulations that doesn't fit in a blog comment. Upshot is that La Pantalla de Hank will most likely not be on the ticket this year. At least, let's hope not.

When Hank was in power, his bodyguard Jorge Vera threatened to shoot people when he wanted their parking space. Even discharged his pistol in order to park his car. That's not just not naco, that's not just part of "the profile", it's simply not acceptable. Within living memory, this sort of abuse has not been countenanced in Tijuana. Authority used to be abused for what was believed to be the greater good. This is simply the arrogance of a narcojunior. Childish, petulant, dangerous, and now with three million citizens at risk. Not acceptable.

Making the case against Hank Rhon is not something that fits within any blog comment. It belongs in an averiguación previa. But neither should EdoMex be apologizing for him. After all, here in Tijuana we have our own ideas about Peña Nieto even though you still have no cause to answer to us in that regard. Let's hope you never do.