September 17 1998, Thursday
ate last night (while Kim and I lay sleeping in our beds in the aftermath of our trip Rosarito, Mexico) in the town of Ensenada (the next town to the south along the Mexican Pacific coast) 19 people (men, women & children) were roused from their beds, lined up in their residential compound and massacred execution-style. On the national news it's being said that this massacre was drug-related, as if to justify the brutality. Mexico is a brutal country, and there are many components to this brutality. There's the brutality of the border with the United States, which isolates the brutality of Mexico from the safety-obsessed tranquility of our nation. Then there's the reality of Americans' need for illegal drugs to cope with the psychological demands of our society. This breeds a new brutality: the criminal networks that supply these drugs, rooted in Mexico where the law is too weak and uninterested to do much about them. In the absence of sufficient suppression, these networks rise to the status economic institutions, but being in Mexico, they duke things out in a uniquely brutal Mexican fashion.
One of my local San Diego correspondents, JohnnyX, on reading my description of the border fence, found it necessary to defend it:
Oh, about that wall. It's funny, but people who don't live here think it is a terrible thing. That's because they can go home to England, or Minnesota, or wherever. The Mexicans that are real determined to get across do. All the time. But an unlimited border crossing would invite serious trouble. We've had trouble in the past with gangs coming across to steal vehicles and take them back to Mexico, and that was the police! (no shit, there was a problem a couple years ago, with Mexican police officers stealing American cars, and then using them on the Mexican side as official police vehicles.)
I never said the wall wasn't necessary; sometimes you have to be brutal to survive. I was struck more by the apparent need for the brutality than the brutality itself.
Johnny was also upset to note that Kim and I had never bothered to get Mexican auto insurance before driving into Mexico. We knew we were taking a risk, but we had no idea how much of a risk. According to Johnny,
Being caught without autoinsurance in Mexico is a serious felony, far more serious than in the US. If you are stopped by a Federale (national police) and don't provide proof of insurance, you're in big trouble. If you get in a minor fender-bender, and the cops come by, and they see you are an American with no Mexican insurance, you are fucked with a HUGE capital F. For example, under Mexican law, if you have no insurance, you will be taken to _jail_ and held there until the case is _settled in full_!! (i.e. the other guy takes it to the body shop, gets it fixed, you pay the bill in full, and THEN you get to get out of jail. You're gonna have to trust your pal Jonny on this, but La Mesa prison is one of the most horrid places on Earth, particularly if you are an American.
So next time we're going to get insurance before driving in Mexico. Or else we'll park on the American side and walk over. Then, of course, there are always bicycles.
pissed away much of the day here in the Cabana while Kim was out doing other things. In the evening we got involved in another of our musings-spawned conflicts. She's upset I say things in here before bringing them up with her and, when I'm not doing that, I'm making her out to be a bitchy yuppie. This tension isn't new to me, of course, but somehow I never seem to figure out how to do this thing right: make it interesting without upsetting people.
'd been wanting to explore San Diego, but our conflict went on until late and then Kim had to go to a yoga class over on the corner of Mountain View and Adams. To make peace with her, I was agreeable when she wanted me to walk Sophie with her to the yoga place, then walk Sophie home, then pick up Kim in an hour. My schedule was suddenly so regimented that there was nothing I could really do back at the cabana except drink vodkatea and watch soap operas on a Spanish-language Tijuana teevee station. Mexican television has some interesting differences from its American counterpart. There are advertisements for cigarettes, lots of beautiful white people and no images of black people except in a few ads recycled by American corporations.
Kim's class ran late, so I sat out in the Volvo on Mtn. View being reminded of all the vaguely yuppified redneck mothers who wait in their idling pickups at the ends of their long driveways so their overweight children don't have to walk all the way from their schoolbuses back to their houses. But when Kim returned, she knew I'd been annoyed by the wait, and just her acknowledging my feelings on the issue made it all seem worthwhile.
We didn't end up going out tonight as originally planned.
one year ago
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