“The victims don’t seem like real people”

“The victims don’t seem like real people”

First published December 2nd 2014 at theeuropean-magazine.com\r\n

“We like to kill” wrote university professor Sergio Aguayo only a few months before the abduction of 43 Students in the city of Iguala made headlines world wide. Alice Kohn sat down with him to talk about the culture of violence in Mexico.

\r\nThe European: Mr. Aguayo, for years you have conducted research and written about the violence in Mexico. Now the subject has received new attention around the world after the kidnapping of 43 students in Iguala. How has Mexico become such breeding ground for brutality?\r\nAguayo: Mainly for geopolitical reasons. When you look at a map of the Caribbean, you see that Mexico lies at the epicenter of the illegal trafficking of drugs, humans, weapons, and money. When, in the 1990s, the Columbian drug cartels were targeted and the flight paths over the Caribbean shut down, it was only natural for the drug trade and organized violence to shift over to Mexico.\r\n\r\nThe European: But there were also factors within Mexico. In one of your articles, which you titled “We like to kill”, you talked about the influence of violence on Mexican culture. How is it expressed?\r\nAguayo: The culture of violence in Mexico has a lot in common with its counterparts in the USA, Brazil, and Central America. In Mexico’s case there is also the strong influence of ritualized death worship that existed in the pre-Columbian cultures, which finds its expression today in the Narcocorridos. The Narcocorridos comprise a fascinating music genre due to the way it has developed.\r\n(Note: Narcocorridos are folklore ballads sung in praise of the drug cartels. Often these songs, which glorify violence, are commissioned by the drug lords themselves.)\r\n\r\nThe European: And this “culture of violence” has led to the people of Mexico tacitly accepting the presence of the cartels?\r\nAguayo: Recently under my guidance, a survey on the negative social capital of the drug cartels was carried out. In it, we determined that the population in the State of Sinaloa finds violence completely normal and acceptable. But this was not the case in the other five states we examined.\r\n(Note: The State of Sinaloa is home to Mexico’s most powerful criminal organization, the Sinaloa-Cartel.)\r\n

“Calderón has never taken responsibility”

\r\nThe European: Do you believe that the abduction of 43 students in Iguala and the following protests represent a turning point in Mexico’s association with violence and organized crime?\r\nAguayo: The turning point can only be seen from an outside perspective. I think it’s still too early to tell if these protests are going to be different from those of the past.\r\n\r\nThe European: Just recently demonstrators have set fire to the regional parliament building in the State of Guerrero. The current protests seem to be directed against the political system. Can they bring about a change to the political mentality?\r\nAguayo: It’s hard to say. The whole thing is progressing down two different paths. One must combat the culture of violence with a culture of peace, and a culture of peace must be created by the society itself. A part of this culture of peace must come from the knowledge of what has occurred.\r\n\r\nThe European: This includes an explanation about happened to the victims in Iguala…\r\nAguayo: The government under Felipe Calderón has done everything in its power to keep the information about this humanitarian tragedy from the public. It was only in August 2010 that official figures on executions connected to organized crime were published for the first time. In January 2011, this flow of information dried out again. This is intended to imply that nothing happens. Calderón said in his speech that the fight against organized crime would cost human lives. By withholding information, the victims don’t seem like real people, and the perpetrators are seen only as people doing their jobs. Calderón has never taken responsibility for the victims.\r\n\r\n 

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