Tag Archives: Aristegui

Mexico’s drug cartels and the death of a poet’s son

3 Apr

Last Monday, police made yet another gruesome discovery along the margins of the Cuernavaca-Acapulco highway – the bodies of seven young people, including that of a woman. Among the dead was 24-year-old Juan Sicilia, son of a well-known Mexican poet named Javier Sicilia.

As so often is the case with these mysterious deaths, it isn’t clear why Juan Sicilia was targeted, but I can’t help but wonder if it is because his father writes a column in magazine, Processo – Mexico’s only serious magazine, and only truly coherent source of information about the country’s drug cartels and their connections.

Everyone in Mexico, I feel, must be getting sick and tired of so much violence, so much disgrace. The shadows in which thousands of murderers operate and the complete disinterest of authorities in bringing the guilty to justice never seem to change. These deaths are just another tragic story, another opportunity to wonder how their families must be feeling, and when or how all of this will ever end. Mexico has become a nation, as Javier Sicilia himself put it, “with a rotten heart.”

These murders come just as Britain’s Observer has published a long and detailed piece about the Wachovia, a US bank now owned by Wells Fargo, and its shameless laundering of billions of drug cartel profits – the kind of cash that helps pay for the cruel deaths of criminal competitors and innocent bystanders alike.

The article (a must-read) quotes federal prosecutor Jeffrey Sloman saying “Wachovia’s blatant disregard for our banking laws gave international cocaine cartels a virtual carte blanche to finance their operations.” It also points out how the bank, which got a $25 billion bailout from the tax-payer, paid a total fine that “was less than 2% of the bank’s $12.3bn profit for 2009.” Equally shocking is the amount of money Wachovia processed – almost $379 billion, about a third of Mexico’s entire GDP.

The murders also inspired my husband to write his column for an academic weekly called U2000 about the darkening prospects for Mexico’s youth. He teaches at a public his university, his students “the ones who have had the rare opportunity (in a country that leaves the majority of its youth out of the school system) to grow, to learn, to read other texts (neither those of the media, nor the cartels’ mantas and posters, nor the television news read out in that ambiguous tone pretending sympathy but that just ends up sounding idiotic) about what the human soul signifies, and how great is the capacity of men and women to realize projects and actions – transcendent ideas that, rather than leaving us ashamed, fill us with pleasure and pride.

Instead university and the society it mirrors kill our young people, stigmatize them, marginalize them, exclude them, impede them from arriving, impede them from working, close off the paths of the future, murder their hopes, their poetic sensibility and creativity, and condemn them to frustration, powerlessness and the hate that a society with decades of impunity and corruption generates.”

The poet too has spoken in public about his son’s death, saying that he will not write again.