Monday, May 21, 2007

Oaxaca, Mexico: nationwide wave of violence has arrived here

UPDATED: Scroll down.

At least it looks like it has arrived. Now, if you live in Huatulco or Puerto Escondido you've seen, heard or read about several knock-down drag-out shootouts in those resort towns, so you're bound to be less than impressed with this breathless report. However, for the rest of us living peacefully and meandering around the almost daily roadblocks thrown up by one protesting group or another, the outright spillage of lifesblood in the streets has been rather rare. No more.

Saturday, in Huatulco, an AFI agent was gunned down in a hail of bullets from fully automatic AR 15's and AK 47's as he arrived at his office (I thought those weapons were illegal here -- oh yeah, only the assassins carry such weapons -- the agent was armed with his trusty .38 revolver). The AFI is sort of like our FBI . . . sort of.

Today, in Acatlan, the state's sugar cane field and refinery union leader was gunned down, again with AK 47's and AR 15's (I thought those weapons were illegal here -- oh yeah, only the assassins carry such weapons -- Timoteo Gutiérrez Castro was armed with his trusty pocket knife).

Also today, just a mile or so outside of town, the PRD's leader in Ejutla de Crespo, Félix Cruz Barrita, was shot to death as he approached Oaxaca City in his car. No word yet on the weapons of choice by the murderers but it would be a safe bet that they were far more heavily armed than he. UPDATE: Police now say that, based upon testimony from family members, this murder was probably a "crime of passion".

One could surmise that the death of the AFI agent was ordered and carried out by organized crime figures (read narcotics) while the death of the PRD's Félix Cruz Barrita was ordered and carried out by organized crime figures (read the PRI) and the death of Cañero union leader Timoteo Gutiérrez Castro was likewise ordered and carried out by organized crime figures (read sugar magnates).

So it's here, the gun violence, that is. The state's government and the federal government as well are wholly incapable of protecting the citizens from death by lead projectile. Since guns are just about completely illegal here, the citizens have no way to protect themselves either.

I thought it quite funny when Freddy Alcantera, the head of the hotel and restaurant association here, was complaining bitterly about the US State Department's renewal of its advisory to avoid Oaxaca like the plague. The updated advisory was issued, unfortunately, the same day as the massacre at Virginia Tech. Freddy mumbled something about Oaxaca being more secure than American universities.

The thing Freddy doesn't understand is that the killings at VT were an anomaly. Such a thing is unlikely to be repeated in our lifetimes or even the lifetimes of our children. Meanwhile, gangland style executions and assassinations are occurring in Mexico at the rate of about 20 per day.

El Universal had calculated, as of about two weeks ago, that gangland style assassinations, executions and shootouts had claimed about 1000 lives so far this year -- and that didn't include Mexico City or Mexico State figures. Those are the two largest entities, respectively, in the country. Exactly why Universal's figures did not include the DF nor Mexico State figures is unclear. It may be that the PRD governments are better at hiding these incidents than are the PAN or the PRI. I dunno.

In any event, the citizens are beginning to pay the price for the decades long abolition of firearms in Mexico which helped to guarantee the PRI's PRI-eminence. And these are the same citizens who faithfully voted the PRI into power decade after decade.

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Cross posted at Pale Horse Galleries

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