Skip to content

Simple justice

8 February 2009

Although the author assumes United States models were used to reform Mexican court procedure (which were based on successful Chilean and Italian reforms), the Los Angeles Times article on how the new court is working in Chihuahua is well worth reading.

The LA Times has better Mexico coverage than most U.S. media, but — like all U.S. media — begins wth the premise that life is “better” when Mexicans become more like us (or U.S.) Don’t get me wrong… I think the legal reforms were extremely overdue… and am glad to see what could be a really wonky subject handled in a readable fashion.  But look at the  really terrible  way the story is indexed by the search engine, and the sub-head on the story.


The murder trial looked at in the article did involve some sort of stimulants (“intentional vehicular manslaughter” and “driving while intoxicated” would have been the U.S. equivalent charges) it has absolutely nothing to do with “drugs” or the U.S. appetite for narcotics. Nor, for that matter, does it have much to do with “Mexico under siege”. The writers did mention that some people worry the new court procedures are too lenient on law breakers (the same complaints you hear about courts everywhere) including narco-hitmen, but a country “under siege” isn’t making deliberate justice system delivery reforms.

It’s disappointing to see that even a “mainstream media” source that generally has very good Mexican coverage (and at least acknowledges the existence of Latin America) is so locked into simplistic, formula thinking.

When I started the Mex Files — or rather re-started them (having started as e-mails to friends and relations) — it was because of my frustration with the lack of information about Mexico in the media, and the unwillingness of people North of the Border to look at Mexico outside of very narrow “categories of misunderstanding” : narcotics, vacations and quaint folk customs.

All are important, but so is the “normal” Mexico… a country that, despite a few pockets of violence on the U.S. border (90% of the narco-murders are in three communities:  Tijuana and Juarez, both directly on the U.S. border, and Cuilican, where the gangsters have been fighting for control of their organization) is hardly a “failed state.”

Nor, are the narcotics traders — the U.S. reaction to the gangsters, the U.S. attitude towards narcotics, U.S. gun laws, and U.S. narcotics users’ culpability in the pockets of slaughter — the only thing to write about.

I hope to write on the analogy of the Calderon administration’s “war on drug dealers” and the Bush Administration’s War on Terror (both are expanding, nebulous “wars” that could be argued were launched against the wrong “enemy” and are means of shoring up dubious electoral presidencies… etc.) .  But, I will be very busy for the next several weeks, and want to chew this over before I post.

One Comment leave one →
  1. otto permalink
    8 February 2009 4:52 pm

    Good stuff as usual.

    Funnily enough I was mulling over a related theme this morning. A dozen (quite literally twelve) separate readers had sent me the news story about Rafael Correa kicking out a low-level US diplo from Ecuador (cos he was obviouly meddling in local affairs).

    It was kind-of-a-story, but hardly anything that will worsen nation to nation relations. But the reaction of readers to OH SHOCK a USA story was telling. Nobody gives a damn about a real chewy story such as (insert favourite from any LatAm nation here) because it doesn’t involve “us”.

    As for the failed state malarkey, you can smell the neocon public opinion massage oil from here. How’s that concrete monstrosity coming on, anyway?

Leave a reply, but please stick to the topic

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s