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Blog Carnival: Mexico – Is Mexican Society Violent by Nature?

This post is part of our special coverage Mexico's Drug War.

In this third part of the summary for our Blog Carnival: Mexico – Citizenry, Violence and Blogs, we showcase posts that reflect on whether Mexican society is violent by nature.

Violence is a phenomenon with multiple manifestations –from armed clashes to verbal abuse– that are influenced by culture. But who establishes the variables that measure if violence has become a ‘natural’ part of society? Perhaps we should look at the fact that people seem to no longer be surprised or astonished with news about one murder, but they do react when they hear about the murder of hundreds. On the other hand, there seems to be a “fascination” with violent characters; a sort of game that legitimizes violence in a context in which people no longer trust the government.

In this summary we also include the posts investigating or showing the influence of violence on different expressions of popular Mexican contemporary art.

Construyamos la paz con justicia. Del usuario de Flickr Indira.cornelio http://www.flickr.com/photos/47667051@N02/5705165226/in/set-72157627297986574/ Usada con permiso del autor.

Build peace with justice. By Flickr user Indira.cornelio user. Used with permission.

Is Mexican society violent by nature?

There is much talk about Mexico being a violent country. Juan Ramon Anaya, from the blog deutschlango, seems to agree with this at some extent: he titled his post “Mexico, an armed movement every 100 years” [es].

Cada vez que leo sobre los asesinatos resultado de la cruzada contra el narco emprendida por nuestro Felipe “corazón de” Calderón, no puedo quitarme de la cabeza la tesis de que todo fue un error y que simplemente se le salió de las manos, y que ahora estamos pagando todos los mexicanos, incluso sus allegados (recordemos el “accidente” de Muriño, secretario de Gobernación). Quizás sea el destino que llevamos en nuestra historia pues cada siglo se desata un movimiento armado : la independencia de 1810, la revolución de 1910 y ahora la lucha de Calderon de 2010.

Every time I read about murders caused by the war against drugs carried out by our Felipe “heartfelt” Calderon, I can't get it off my mind that everything was a mistake and it just got out of control. Now we, the Mexican people, are paying for this, even the president's allies (remember Muriño's –the government secretary– “accident”). Maybe our historic fate leads us to this, since every century an armed movement takes place: 1819 independence, 1910 revolution, and now Calderon's fight of 2010.

Ariel Martinez Flores, from the blog Amblalluna, focues [es] on another aspect of Mexican society that is causing violence: corruption.

Hubo un candidato a la presidencia de la República que acuñó la frase “La solución somos todos”, pero el mexicano común, el hombre de la calle decía jocoso e ingenioso: la corrupción somos todos” y esa generalización del fenómeno, fue el terreno fértil para el crecimiento de los grandes corporativos de la producción y distribución de drogas que a la sombra de la corrupción y la consecuente impunidad, crecieron y crecieron protegidos por funcionarios de todos los rangos y áreas del estado, hasta que llegó un momento en que ése estado se encontró en grave peligro de perder el control del país y no tuvo más alternativa que tratar de frenar a sus socios que amenazaban con quedarse con todo el negocio.

There was a presidential candidate that coined the phrase “ We are all the solution”, but an ordinary Mexican, a man cleverly and hilariously  said: We are all corruption. This generalization marked the path towards the growth of big production and drug distribution companies; they grew and grew in the shadow of corruption and impunity, protected by government employees from all ranks and positions. Then there was a moment in which the state was at a serious risk of losing control of the country and it did not have any other choice than to try to stop its partners who were threatening with taking over the business.

Rosalia Guerrero, from the blog Enluranada also refers [es] to this issue, looking at day to day occurrences like piracy and crime:

Yo no sé ustedes, pero yo no quiero financiar a la delincuencia, por que la piratería hoy en día es una industria grande en la cual los que están detrás de no son los vendedores que nos reciben los 10 pesos por el disco sino la delincuencia organizada, que ocupara ese dinero no sólo para más discos sino para armas, balas y generación de narcóticos. Este es el punto de reflexión de esta columna, ¿Quieres financiar a los delincuentes? Por lo tanto ¿Hasta cuando seguiremos justificando nuestras acciones incorrectas?

I don't know about you, but I do not want to finance delinquency. Piracy is a huge industry with many people behind it. It is not about sellers who receive 10 pesos for the CD, but about organized crime that will use that money not just for copying more records, but for weapons, bullets and drugs. This is the main reflection of this post: do you want to finance crime? How long are we going to justify our wrongdoings?

Ian Keller, from the blog Tlacotzontli, does not agree with the idea that Mexico is inherently violent. He affirms [es] that the past cannot be judged using the current standard, and that violence is not about nationalities.

este es un problema de la humanidad quitando diferencias de credo, de nacionalidad, de sexo o preferencias y para muestra vale solo un botón. ¿Recuerdan el ataque en Noruega, un país llamado del primer mundo, habitado por la gente más civilizada? Un fulano con problemas mentales severos se gestó en ese país a pesar de sus más altos valores sociales. Creo yo que la única forma de erradicar esta violencia es educar con valores a nuestros hijos, […] hablo de aquellos que nos hacen ser temerosos de Dios, de ese temor que inculca el respeto y obliga a hacer lo correcto por convicción propia; de hacer el bien y evitar el mal; de amar a los demás y tratarlos como nos gustarían que nos trataran. El mundo será diferente si en verdad trabajamos en depurar toda esa maldad que vemos en las noticias, en las películas, y en las novelas mexicanas.

This is a problem of mankind, no matter the gender, nationality, beliefs or sexual orientation. Do you remember the attack in Norway, a ‘first world’ country, with the most civilized population in the world? A person suffering serious mental disorders grew up in that country in spite of its great social values. I think the only way to eradicate violence is teaching our children […] I am talking about those who make us fear God, that fear leads us to respect and forces us to do the right because of our belief; doing good and avoiding evil; loving others and treating them as we would like to be treated. The world would be different if we truly worked on cleansing the evil we see in the news, in movies, in Mexican soap operas.
Mayo 8 marcho por la paz. Del facebook de Indira Cornelio, con su permiso.

May 8th, I march for peace. By Indira Cornelio, used with permission.

Art, literature and music

Enrique Figueroa Anaya, from the blog Asfalto Tecnicolor, published a short story for the Carnival called “La Pasarela“[es]. It is about women affected by violence, sometimes in an indirect way.

On the subject of creative writing, Ernesto Priego published a post [es] in #SinLugar about poetry and violence, where he comments on the impact that violence has had in his writing process, and states:

México sufre diferentes tipos de violencia, que van de los más “sutiles” o transparentes y por lo tanto no siempre notados (por ideológicos, expresados en prácticas y actitudes culturales, usos de lenguaje, etc.) a lo más directos (feminicidio permanente, la guerra contra los drogas, crimen e inseguridad urbanas, etc.).

Mexico suffers from different types of violence, from transparent or more subtle violence that is not always noticed (for instance, ideological violence that is conveyed in culture, language, etc) to the most direct violence (femicides, the war against drugs, urban crime and insecurity, etc.).

Art allow people to denounce or talk about violent events they have experienced. Art is also a form of resistance. Jorge Tellez talks about this in “Words of Violence” [es] in #Sinlugar, where he mentions some initiatives that intend to portray reality through poetry and photography:

En México se dice que “ya estamos hasta la madre” de casi todo lo que importuna. Estamos hasta la madre de la contaminación, de los baches, del tráfico, de la selección, de la política, de la corrupción, […] Un claro ejemplo de esto es la campaña Alguien tenía que decirlo, cuyo propósito es el de documentar fotográficamente irregularidades que los habitantes de la ciudad de México viven diariamente, mediante la denominación de cada problema antecedido por la palabra “pinche”: Pinche bache, pinche tráfico, […] pinche violencia. […] Sí, de acuerdo: pinches drogas, pinche narcotráfico, […] pero ninguna de estas palabras supera el valor denotativo de nuestra indignación. Por eso iniciativas como la de 100 mil poetas por el cambio aparecen este 2011 para darle un nuevo valor a la palabra y devolverle la connotación perdida.

In Mexico we say that we are “fed up” with all our problems. We are sick of pollution, pot holes, traffic, the national football team, politics, corruption, […] A great example of this is the campaign “Alguien tenía que decirlo” [es] (someone had to say it), which aims to document through photographs the problems that citizens in Mexico go through every day by using the word pinche (horrible): pinche pot hole […], pinche traffic , […], pinche violence, […]  and yes, of course, pinches drugs, pinche drug trafficking, but none of those words clearly depict our anger. Therefore, initiatives like “100 mil poetas por el cambio” (100 thousand poets for change”) have appeared in order to grant new meaning to the word and get its real connotation back.

Enrique Figueroa also shared images in two posts for the Carnival. The first one is called “Interferencia” (Interference), with a picture by Alejandro Briseño showing crosses in memory of murdered women contrasted with political propaganda. The second post, called “Silencio incómodo” [es] (Uncomfortable silence) shows a picture by Jorge Alberto Mendoza, and Enrique explains why he chose this title:

(esta) imagen se me hizo representativa de lo que se vive en muchos sitios de México. La llamé ‘Silencio incómodo’ porque no se me ocurre otra forma para expresar lo que sentimos cuando vemos, escuchamos o leemos, sobre algún suceso violento que estremece a nuestro país.

This image represents what people experience in many parts of Mexico. I called it ‘Uncomfortable silence’ because I cannot think of any other way to express what we feel when we see, listen to or read about a violent event that shakes up our country.

Ernesto Priego also talks about the worldwide presence of the subject of Mexican violence in comics, and ironically about “The silence of the [Mexican] comic” [es].

Como lector de cómics, defenderé siempre el potencial del medio para contar todo tipo de historias, pero como mexicano me preocupa que hasta ahora sea sólo la visión foránea y primermundista la que determine los discursos sobre la violencia mexicana. […] Los franceses obtienen becas para publicar un hermoso libro sobre Juárez, pero los mexicanos de Juárez quieren publicar en Estados Unidos y hacer películas y vender figuras de acción. […] La excepción que conozco al gran vacío narrativo en forma de cómic sobre la violencia en México es el trabajo de Édgar Clément.

As a reader of comics, I will always defend its capacity to tell all kinds of stories, but as a Mexican I'm worried that so far just a foreign and first world vision determines the discourses on Mexican violence […] The French get a scholarship to publish a beautiful book about Juarez, but Mexicans from Juarez want to publish comics in the U.S and make movies and sell action figures. […]  I just know of one exception from the narrative comic gap about violence in Mexico: Edgar Clément's work.

On the subject of music, Enrique Figueroa chose [es] several songs by Los Tigres del Norte, a Mexican band that tends to include a lot of social content in their lyrics. Enrique tells us that he chose this music because,

la música que acompaña a los mexicanos expulsados, aquellos que como bien dicen los Tigres del Norte, “mientras los ricos se van para el extranjero para esconder su dinero y por Europa pasear, los mexicanos que venimos de mojados casi todo se lo enviamos a los que quedan allá”.

it is the music that accompanies the expelled Mexicans, those of us that as Los Tigres del Norte say, “while the rich travel abroad to hide their money and go to Europe on vacation, Mexicans who come [to the U.S.] illegally send most of our things to those ones who are still there”.

Enrique also talks about cinema. In his post “Los Invisibles” (The Invisible) [es] he links to a recently awarded documentary about Mexican migration with the same name.

This post is part of our special coverage Mexico's Drug War.

Editor’s note: Due to the article's length we have decided to publish this summary in several parts. You can read the first and second installments. This is the third part, and tomorrow we will publish the fourth.

2 comments

  • […] length we have decided to publish this summary in several parts. Here are the first, second, and third installments. We will soon publish the fifth and final summary. Written by Juan Arellano […]

  • Guest

    What I as an American would like to know is that if Mexican society is in fact “inherently violent by nature” is it good for us to have open borders with such a violent people. And yes, I dont agree with America’s drug policies either or with the drug war in general, but at the same time an American smoking a joint is a lot different than one of Mexico’s seemingly unlimited supply of violent criminals cutting their enemies head off.

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