Mexican Meltdown

When Democracy Blows Up

I failed to find anything inspiring today, other than this nice picture of fireworks. So here goes with the bummer stuff. Today is election day in 14 of Mexico's 31 states. Twelve states will try to elect governors. Things aren't going well.

Last Monday, the man favored to win the governor's seat in Tamaulipas, just south of the Texas border on the Gulf Coast, was killed in an ambush on his campaign car. His brother has replaced him in the election. A mayoral candidate in the same state was shot dead in May. Over 550 electoral officials have resigned. In the state of Sinaloa, on the West Coast of Mexico just off the southern tip of Baja, the campaign headquarters of a candidate for governor were attacked with bombs this week. Nearly 23,000 people have been killed since Mexican President Calderón launched a military crackdown on organized crime over three years ago.

On Thursday, 21 people were shot dead in a battle between rival drug gangs in the state of Sonora, about 12 miles over the border from Arizona, "along a known trafficking route for drugs and illegal immigrants."

What we are seeing in the last couple of years is a much more gruesome kind of killing, beheadings, dismembering, hanging corpses up on highway overpasses, all of that, with messages left by the cartels, all of that to send a message, either to the law enforcement authorities, who would go after them, or to their rivals or to the local government. . . . [W]e're starting to see some Mexicans even talking about, well, maybe it would be better just to make a deal with some of the cartels. . . . A lot of candidates have just stopped campaigning.

The most amazing thing to me is that the news reports generally add that this is the worst violence in Mexican elections "since 1994." Gosh, has it been that long since the last collapse of civilization? Also, I've just about given up trying to figure what might distinguish one Mexican party from another, since concepts like "right" and "left" seem to have lost all meaning down there. Per the Wall Street Journal, the current trend in distinguishing between Mexican parties is to focus on the number of voters who would never consider voting for them:

A survey by the Mitofsky polling group showed the PRI is now the country's "least rejected" political party, with only 19% of Mexicans saying they would never vote for it. Some 30% said they would never vote for the PAN [Calderón's "conservative" party], and 38% would shun the leftist Party of the Democratic Revolution, which has been hurt by internal divisions and a hard-left faction that has turned off middle-class voters.

This is what it means when we let inmates take over the asylum. Happy Fourth!

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