Monday, November 1, 2010


This line from a Post piece on Patricia González's brother's kidnapping and videotaped confession jumps out:
Gonzalez's kidnapping and his forced video "confession," with its similarities to the propaganda produced by terrorists, represent a stark escalation in a drug war that has left 30,000 dead over the past four years. The warring cartels often accuse government officials of corruption but rarely in such al-Qaeda-style videos.
The second sentence refutes the first. The only thing even marginally new about this was the fact that the guys are dressed up in fatigues and holding assault rifles. Everything else you see has been going on for years. An anti-kidnapping cop in Torreón was taped crying, beaten, and confessing every illicit relationship and smuggling maneuver in the region back in 2007, and though jarring, it was nothing new even then. La Barbie videotaped the execution of a bunch of Zetas and uploaded to Youtube in 2005. Nothing in this most recent video outstrips that.

Not to make too much of what is essentially a small point, but this isn't an escalation in any real sense of the word, and to say that it is strikes me as misleading and alarmist. Two frustrating things about the coverage of Mexico in the American media is the relentless focus on crime at the expense of everything else going on in the nation, and the need to constantly describe things as unprecedentedly bad. Things may be bad, but it's not every episode is the worst thing to ever befall Mexico and Mexicans. I recognize that reporters want to find a new way to tell a rather repetitive story, but the proper way to deal with this isn't to make things seem ever worse.

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