Tuesday, September 14, 2010

_Murder City_ by Charles Bowden

This was the scariest book I've every read, and that's saying something after reading The Corner last year. But I called that one the saddest book I'd read.

This book makes graphic the simply vast number of people who are being murdered in Mexico in general, and in Juarez in particular. There were many striking things about what Bowden says in this book, but here are a few that stuck out for me:

  • People like to say that it's just drug cartel people killing each other, but in fact people of every description are being killed.
  • Cops are being killed. But then you learn that lots and lots of cops are compromised. Now, imagine trying to be a clean cop in that environment.
  • The US gives money to the Mexican army to fight the drug war. The Mexican army goes around shooting and beating cops. And collects drug money.
  • Really, the police and army are just another gang fighting for the drug money.
  • But people don't just get killed for drugs. There's a thriving and industrialized kidnapping business. A gang will keep maybe a dozen people in a house while they bleed their family of money. No one goes to the cops; the gangs are tightly connected to the cops, or ARE the cops. Nearly all kidnap victims are killed.
  • I kept fantasizing about "what if the US legalized drugs, ending the market for Mexican drugs." However, Mexico now has a lucrative local drug market, and lots of people who solve their problems by killing. There'll be no quick answer to this problem, though surely ending the US drug money would help.
  • Top cartel folks have state police as bodyguards
  • The folks doing the murdering don't really know who it is that is giving them orders.
  • The army has always been used to beat down the people, in Mexico. Imagine the US government today sending a few thousand army troops to pacify a US city.
  • If you deliver drugs, you make some money...but if it goes bad and you lose the drugs, you are charged retail price of the drugs,.... an impossible amount....so you suddenly owe more than you can pay...so you get killed. This is GOING to happen to you eventually.

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