Mexico lost its ability to be surprised by its own chaotic nature probably, oh, a few generations ago, but the start of 2009 is seriously pushing the limits on our tolerance for wacky atrocities. So far: Televisa in Monterrey was attacked. Federal authorities detained the police chief of Cancun in connection with the killing of a retired general. El Pozolero coolly admitted to disintegrating at least 300 corpses for his narcos bosses in Tijuana. In Reynosa, a reporter was caught in the cross-fire of a gun battle. And just on Sunday night, the Chihuahua governor's convoy came under attack, resulting in one death.
Things have gotten so surreal, absurd, and downright twisted, that now the cartels themselves are believed to be organizing street protests to "denounce" the military, saying its anti-narco operations in hot zones in the north are unwanted. Imagery of popular street protests against the Mexican military certainly do nothing to help the president's counter-offensive against declarations that his country is a "failed state." If in fact the protests are manufactured by the criminals, the sheer subversion, defiance, and psychic disorder of the whole charade says it all.
The state is doing the best it can to sustain its control. But could something else be happening to Mexico right now? A different, more abstract kind of break-down? If the military hadn't entered the war against the narcos, the Secretary of Economy said in Paris last week, by now we'd have a "narcopresidente." Chilling, but ... by now?
Yet Felipe Calderon insists we march on. On Thursday, he labeled cartel-organized street protests as "cowardice." It was national Military Day. In the next day's paper La Jornada led with Calderon's statements -- and a photograph of schoolchildren gleefully playing with unloaded automatic weapons at the Military Zone in Tijuana.