sábado, 1 de junio de 2013

The guardians of the nation

by Edgar Pina
(Translated by David Brookbank)

Every day or, more likely, every week, those disciplined soldiers of the Mexican National Army, deployed at the Benjamin Hill Check Point in Sonora, find in passenger buses traveling from south to north, suitcases, bags, ice chests and little packages filled with a variety of drugs.

Depending on the substance and the quantity, the suspect -- who could be any passenger selected at the judgment of the uniformed character doing the search -- is subjected to detention and an overwhelming accusation of drug trafficking in which the accused is presented with a horror film (complete with the prosecuting attorneys, police, judges, jailers and convicts) which ends, after a back and forth between threats and friendly levity, in a request for payment, a fine, an extortion, a bribe which, no matter how burdensome it might be, seems like a marvelous solution to the detained.

Nearly one hundred percent of cases, for certain, are resolved in this manner.

The experience of Yanira Maldonado and her husband Gary ended differently. Their appearance, their lifestyle, their nationality, their backgrounds and, above all else, their proven innocence, brought about their just release, leaving the jealous guardians of the well-being of the citizenry (Americans, primarily) in the ridiculous situation of having accused an innocent, while the true perpetrator, if in fact there was one, got off free of charges and responsibility.

The social cost of maintaining this farce of war on drug trafficking is enormous. And I am not referring only to the cost of buildings, installations, vehicles, technology, food, fuel, wages for troops and officers, but rather to the even greater delays, losses and inconveniences suffered by hundreds of vehicles transporting people and merchandise that inevitably must (as we must) pass through these check points.

But at the same time that this scheme multiples across various points of the Mexican republic, a huge number of routes operate day and night, from south to north, by land, sea and air, transporting enormous tons of drugs, which enter, not surprisingly, into North America, to supply the vice, the vices, of millions -- yes, they are millions -- of US consumers.

Perhaps futurologists could help us speculate on future scenarios on a continent where the consumption is in the north and a good part of the production is in the south. The legalization of marijuana in various US states for medical uses, as well as for "so-called" medical uses, and the proliferation of and growth of production facilities -- with engineered species and everything else -- the length and width of the geography of the land of Uncle Sam, are important components of the scenario to come, but it isn't easy to imagine it in its complexity

Accordingly, realize that no amount of precaution is too much when you travel by bus, shuttle van or private car since you will have to face these individuals, generally malevolent, on the roadways, individuals who in the best of cases will only interrogate you as to your identity, occupation and the sort of material you are transporting. 

These -- who we support with our taxes -- are the guardians of the nation and all the rest of us are guilty, until we can prove that we are innocent.

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