In Mexico, if we paid attention, we’d see that the feeling was different. And that may be the best news to come from south of the border in years.
In cities and towns across Mexico, the 200th anniversary of their independence was celebrated with the same pride and joy that you’d expect from any people, anywhere. Mexicans are no different from anyone else in their national pride and love of country. The fact that a very small group of criminals and political thugs make life dangerous and miserable for many Mexicans is not reason enough to dampen their spirit.
A case in point: coverage of gangland violence is nonexistent in Mexico. Journalists have been killed for reporting on the drug trade and its murderous effects. Reporters have been silenced for fear of reprisals. And yet ordinary Mexican citizens have been using social media, Twitter specifically, to report on the violence, send danger alerts and keep in touch with family and friends. I’ve been reading their posts daily with a sense of compassion and awe.
I have no doubt that the human spirit will prevail. Despite the U.S.’ voracious appetite for illicit drugs that fuels and motivates the drug trade; despite the unrestricted sale of U.S. assault weapons to drug operatives in Mexico; and despite the fact that the governments of the U.S. and Mexico seem unwilling to come together in a meaningful way to solve the narco-problem, I believe in the decency, will and pride of the Mexican people.
We’ve had more then 200 years of history with our southern neighbors. Our economies, families, politics and destinies are intertwined, they always have been. Everything we do as a nation affects Mexico and everything that happens there resonates here.
Even when Mexico celebrates despite its troubles (or maybe even because of them), we are affected. Isn’t it logical to expect that the optimism and resilience of the Mexican people, not so much their institutions, will eventually prevail over all that accosts them? We would expect no less from ourselves.
From people to people, in celebration of a momentous bicentenario, we should do no less than stand shoulder to shoulder, in defiance of the problems we share. We should apply a concerted effort, each with their own governments and institutions, to attack narco-violence and its causes.
The violence that runs rampant in northern Mexican cities is a direct consequence of illicit drug consumption in the U.S., and of the sale of weapons to the drug cartels. In Mexico, corruption and weakness in all levels of government enable the problem.
At the celebration of Mexico’s 200th anniversary we would do well admit these things and start to work toward change.