Mexico is beyond my comprehension. Perhaps the mistake is to expect an approximation through rational means. It’s impossible to understand it. How to in understand the evil, cruelty and degradation that characterize this present moment the whole country? I do not like moral judgments, but circumstances strongly invite to make them. Or maybe when I say evil, cruelty, degradation, I’m just rying to express my horror rather than stating a moral view: a horror that emerges from the guts rather than from the judgement. And of course it is not just for a moment: it happened before and will happen again and again. Yes, I know, centuries of corruption, poverty, inequality, authoritarism and oppression. But the historical perspective is not enough to explain it. There’s something else I do not understand. Something metaphysical. To born in Mexico is already karma, said an astrologer. But esoterism is not enough.
With a growing wave of violence, President Felipe Calderon (who is in part responsible due to his poor strategy in what he called “war against the narco”) drawed a line and asked the media not to alarm the society. But about what else can we talk? : so titled very aptly the Mexican artist Teresa Margolles her last exhibition at the Venice Biennale. A brutally pertinent installation, made from materials that the artist collected at crime scenes mainly related with drugs: the floors of the ancient Venetian palace were “washed” with a mixture of water and blood from the victims (sometimes turn killers), murderers’ messages embroidered in gold on canvas soaked in blood (in reference to the “narco-blanket”) were hung on the walls, and ostentatious narco-style jewelry, made of gold and glass chips (as if they were diamonds) from broken windshields in the shootings were shown. The installation is almost an illegal work, because she works with materials that are police and forensic evidences. Materials, whose collection by the artist implies the corruption of government officials. Certainly a very accurate image of Mexico in its paradoxical symbolic literality, which deeply angered the federal government.
Margolles installation works with fear and body-anxiety, and invites everybody to think twice about them, almost as a provocation. Is not fear an effective control mechanism, finally? We have all experienced a striking example after September 11th’s attacks: nowadays, trying to introduce a bottle of water on a plane makes a suspect from you. A bottle of water! We live in an era of wide-spreaded paranoia: said that, I do not intend to say that the danger is not real. But the truth is that I hate each day airports even more, because they are now a performance of fear and control. And I hate to feel controlled.
That’s why I don’t know what to think anymore, what to ask, what to demand, what to propose in terrible situations as one appeared a few days ago: 72 Latin American migrants were killed by the Zetas (a group of hitmen associated with drugs). So do Los Zetas operate. Among their activities, kidnapping immigrants from Central and South America who try to reach the United States through Mexico, looking for a job. Where on Earth killing at once 72 people is something that could be made with impunity? The first thing that comes from the guts, is to require order and control to the authorities. Then my own desire scares me. Totalitarism and many State crimes have emerged from the same popular demand. Not to mention the corruption, complicity and criminality of the Mexican “law enforcement”… And the truth is, that this “war against drugs” there have been many civilian casualties, innocent people killed by the bullets of the army or the police. As Liliana Felipe-s song says: “You have to decide / Who would you prefer to kill you: / a terrorist / or your own government, to save you / from the terrorist ….”
Of course we should legalize drugs. And of course, talking about a “war against drugs” in Mexico is full of hypocresy: the money earned from dealing with drugs is one of national economy’s biggest supports. Politicians and authorities: if you really want to do something, you should start by reading The Naked Lunch by William Burroughs.
Meanwhile, a dear friend, the poet Maria Rivera, recently proposed at her facebook a sort of sabotage or civil protest: she invites recreational drug consumers to stop buying their candy until violence levels fall. A boycott as any other boycott to any other product, which attacked a principle we consider valuable. Because own complicity plays here a role too.I imagine a bizarre place where all my abstinent friends with eyes popping out of their heads are marching through the streets shouting slogans like “Until the end of the thriller / I’m not buying from my dealer!” Maybe. Who knows. I don’t know it anymore.
© Luis Felipe Fabre
Ralph del Valle