Monday, September 27, 2010

Look the other way: violence in Mexico today

Personal perception
A little over a year ago a family member living in the USA asked me about violence in Mexico and was wondering if he should cancel his trip here.  I was angered by his question, angered and outraged.  I gave him statistics about how it was more dangerous to be in certain cities in the States and in the end he didn't cancel his trip.  His questions made me think about how Mexico is being presented in the media in the USA and the rest of the world.  Living in the center of the country, far removed from the border cities of Cuidad Juarez and Tijuana, we are still exposed to murders, dicapitations, and violent encounters between narcos & military patrols.  We stay home on festive holidays like this past 15th of September, avoiding large crowds and people.  Two years ago explosions at Morelia's traditional "el grito" in a downtown street sent the city into panic.  Today I feel we Morelianos are more cautious, avoiding going out late at night etc.  yet I feel as if, at the same time, we are somehow looking the other way.  The violence in our city and state continues but it always seemed to be reported with some kind of spin on it.  Whether it is state run media or private media reporting, things always seem to be fault or responsibilty of the federal government.  This, in my opinion, is collective amnesia.  Mexican society allowed for this reality to be what is today. After all, who voted for the elected officials? Who allowed narcos to set up supply lines and operate? Drug trafficking and violence is nothing new to Mexico.  Drug trafficking has been the bread and butter of many Mexican politicians, officials and families for many, many years.  Perhaps this averting of our collective eyes is more a self-preservation mechanisim than out right denail.  It is an interesting topic of study for a cultural anthropoligist I would say.  
Independent Media
Interviews like this one from Democracy Now ( force me to reflect on these issues.  Putting responsibility and politics asside, what strikes me the most is how all of us, children, adults, every member of society, have to incorporate these acts of violence into our daily lives and continue life the best way we can.  I am not so visceral now when someone outside Mexico asks about violence. My answers are always more along the line of "yes there is violence...but what can I do besides carry on with my life and protect those I love as best I can?"  The truth is: what other options do we have?