But as my friend, Pancho said to me yesterday, “No one is talking about it [anymore].”

So day before yesterday at 9:30 pm, two policemen were killed and one was seriously wounded in what should have been a routine traffic stop 8 blocks to the northwest from my house on the road leading out towards El Rincon. And I learned this morning that on that same Monday there were two other people killed in a gunfight a couple of kilometers south of town.

And to think it was just after the big shootout at Los Cruces – only something like 6-9 months ago – when everyone here finally thought the war was over. Maybe because that was the gun battle to end all gun battles.

The likes of which haven’t been seen since The Lincoln County War of 1878.

It took place 4 kilometers to the northeast from my house at the principal highway crossroads leading to Guadalajara. The battle started at 7 am and went on for 2 long hours. Needless to say it was witnessed by many (many) people. Everyone was involved: the Jalisco cartel, the Michoacan cartel, the Federales, the vigilantes, and at least one branch of the armed forces.

When it was all said and done, 25 men were dead on the scene and a large unreported number were wounded. The bad guys from Jalisco won and – as it turned out – peace reigned, but only briefly.

Why has the violence returned? Well, it seems the Jalisco bad guys (in public conversations here we don’t use the group names) weren’t content with their little victory over our bunch of bad guys here in northern Michoacan. Oh no, it seems they have a much larger plan for domination.

And why is this little city so important that so many people get murdered here? Maybe because it sits a mere 30 miles from the Jalisco state line and as such is one of the principal gateways into Michoacan. And the city itself I’ve also been told is contentious for private reasons.

When is the violence going to stop? The most logical and improbable solution would be to somehow magically curtail the consumption habits of its northern neighbor, the United States. The logic being, you can’t sell what nobody wants. But the fact is too many Americans need drugs to cope with their shitty jobs and their shitty lives.

So then there is the Medellin solution. That Colombian city reclaimed itself – booted out the drugs and the violence – by offering its people truly better alternatives. They made education more accessible. Improved public transit from the poor neighborhoods to better paying jobs in the city center. They even added libraries to low income areas. The Medellin solution is not as costly as one might think.

Malcom Gladwell in his book ‘Outliers’ noted that many street dealers in the US for example still lived at home with mom. Why? He ran the numbers and discovered that when every expense was accounted for, the average low level drug dealer wasn’t earning much more than minimum wage. And he discovered that the guy running the crew wasn’t much better off. It was only much further up in the food chain where the real money was being made.

So following Medellin’s example: providing access to better jobs, aiding with education, and improving infrastructure all generally add up to improving people’s day to day lives as well as aiding their long term futures. All in very mappable, measurable and pragmatic ways.

But maybe that makes too much sense. I say that because it seems that politicians don’t seem at all interested unless votes or special interest group dollars are at stake. Or funding enormous sums of money to build airplanes that can’t fly. On Capitol Hill and over at the Pentagon that’s all seriously important shit.

PS – That last statement calls to mind a thought. The US spends something like $600B on military intelligence and defense. Yet during 9/11, the once seemingly impregnable fortress of doom – the Pentagon – took a direct hit.

This ironically kind of proves out something the famous modern military strategist Colonel John Boyd had remarked on much earlier – late 80s or early ’90s – ‘that the Pentagon wasn’t in the business of defense so much as it was in the business of the procurement of large (and expensive) weapons systems.’

So here we have the US’s chief defense agency; thousands of admirals and generals all together holding more stars than the Milky Way galaxy, and they couldn’t as much manage to scrape together the where for all to even defend themselves.

And what could possibly have been on their plates more important than protecting the home base? Buying more drones? Maybe ordering up yet more of those marginally operational F-35s?

Whatever. It all resulted in such a complete break down of stewardship.

PPS – And how fittingly embarrassing to get bitch slapped by a bunch of guys who could only scrape but a few riyals together.

Advertisements