Tuesday, January 18

The mexican volcano

If there is a country where large macroeconomic figures produce a mirage, it is Mexico. The 15th country in GDP in the world, just behind Spain. An industrial, mining, agricultural and tourist powerhouse. The seventh most visited in the world. The tenth most populous. With an unemployment of just 4%. With debt and inflation under control.

What then goes wrong in Mexico? Anyone with minimal knowledge of the country knows the answer. I worked there, for half a year, in 2004. Starting a chain of local newspapers in various cities. I was in Torreón, Campeche, Culiacán, Hermosillo, Mérida and Cancun. And I discovered the three reasons that make Mexico a social volcano. The enormous poverty and inequality, that of a country with 70 million poor people, 56% of the population. Violence, especially that of the narco. Institutional, systemic and structural corruption.

I landed in Culiacán, capital of Sinaloa, on September 11, 2004. It is a famous date in the city. That day, a group of hit men sent by Chapo Guzmán assassinated a rival boss, Rodolfo Carrillo. That day the great war between the Sinaloa cartel and the Juárez cartel began. But the fact that most caught my attention, that September 11, was another very revealing detail: that the chief of the bodyguards of the murdered drug trafficker was also the city’s chief of police. This is how Culiacán works. A place where, just two years ago, the Army detained the son of Chapo Guzmán and, a few hours later, had to release him, under the threat of the drug traffickers of executing the relatives of the military.

In Hermosillo, the newspaper he worked for decided to stop reporting on drug traffickers after one of its journalists was killed. It is not an isolated incident. Every year in Mexico, a dozen journalists are killed. It is the country in the world with the most deaths in the press, above Syria, Iraq or Afghanistan.

I was in Cancun for more than a month, but I did not set foot on the beach. He worked in the city that tourists never visit, where the people who serve in the big hotels live. They are always half-finished neighborhoods. The families buy a foot of the house: a concrete structure. They live on the ground floor and are confident that later, with some savings, they will be able to build the second floor. That dream is not always achieved. And the beams of the houses, like scrapes towards the sky, remain as a symbol of a failure: of the future that never came.

That frustrated future, that expectation still unbuilt, is the mandate of Andrés Manuel López Obrador, who gave hope to so many losers in history: the victims of some elites who live, at his expense, very very well. I came back to Mexico two years ago. I attended as a journalist the inauguration of López Obrador. That day I experienced the most histrionic and tense parliamentary plenary session that I have ever seen in any other congress. And also the enormous illusion of millions of people on the street, who saw in AMLO the hope of a historical change. A transformation full of contradictions, that has crossed with a pandemic and that has not yet managed to take off.

The monographic issue of elDiario.es magazine try to explain this volcano. That of a country overwhelming, passionate and, at times, cruel.


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