Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Everyone a Target for Extortion

A Church spokesman said that different parishes across the country have been subject to extortion by organized crime, and that "every bishop has his record" of payments made and the like. This isn't the first time we've heard of priests being extorted, and it's indicative of a larger move by Mexican criminal gangs toward extortion in the past five years.

For regular Mexicans, this broad swing toward extortion is one of the most pernicious developments of the Calderón era. It's bad enough for big companies and wealthy individuals to have to devote a greater share of their income on personal security because of kidnapping fears, but in many regions extortion is a de facto tax on success (and one that is imposed as regularly and with more authority than the legitimate government taxes), as well as an inhibitor of entrepreneurship. And it's not just big money-cow businesses that suffer, but also for small, family-owned tortillerías and the like.

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