Battle For La Mesa

tijuanaOff and on. Once a week maybe more I’ve been having a hard time sleeping lately. I’ve been having nightmares. Sometimes I lose touch with reality. I’m extremely sensitive to the world around me in good ways and bad. I’m happier than I’ve been in awhile. Changes are about. Some public and some private. Good and evil mixed into one. Life is full of grey.

901am is succeeding beyond my wildest dreams. The future holds something even bigger. Sometimes when I think of new media, I think of life documenting it as simple as we can. Blogging as life happens. Real people. But what happens when real people can’t tell their story because technology is not available to them.

A few days ago Mexican Military seized Tijuana from the drug overlords and their protectors (city police). To many this was viewed as a success. To others its a start. The truth is the ones who have been imprisoned falsely are probably sitting behind bars to poor to find freedom, and the ones who are the most guilty are the ones who are free.

Interestingly enough I read this news and was not suprised:

The local Tijuana force was not prevented from going on duty Friday, but police commanders refused to let their officers out onto the streets unarmed after federal agents confiscated their weapons. The firearms are being examined for irregularities and signs of use in unsolved crimes.

The arms will be returned, federal spokespersons said Friday, but the local cops may be integrated into state police patrols soon, said Tijuana officials. It was significant, however, that the first major action in the federal organized crime crackdown known as “Operation Tijuana” was aimed at the city police structure.

I hold no ill feelings for the police. I hold no ill for anyone involved in all the crap that went on. I hold no ill will for anyone. Life is life. Shit happens we move on. We breathe in. We breathe out. Martial Law exists in Tijuana now. All for the better IMO. Life will continue for the poor, and the rich. Corruption will not fade away until more than the drugs are rooted out. Greed itself must be rooted out, and the poor must be set free from the prisons and then maybe the system will change.

For 20 plus years a little known American woman has been fighting this war. She has given up everything in hopes of setting men and women free. She’s risked heaven and hell to save a few lonely souls. I’m sure she’s saved mine a few times a few lonely nights not to long ago.

Cracking down on the police will help. But its not the solution. I read this in an email sent to me. And I’m in agreement.

I am no great fan of the Tijuana police. (I was arrested twice and attacked, choked from behind by several, on a major downtown avenue, while working on a story about their brutality against street kids.)

They are, nevertheless, for the most part, just working-class, honest men (and a very few women) who are struggling to support their families. Rather than take over the Tijuana city hall from the politicians, the true crooks who line their pockets with bribes from developers and other “cartels” while the city’s infrastructure, like its sewer system, deteriorates; Calderon attacks those at the bottom – the police person on the beat, who struggles without a living wage.

In my barrio, Colonia Obrera, a policeman walks around each month, knocking on doors, collecting donations from property owners to pay his salary. In front of the many fenced and gated homes near the beach, he stands outside, mournfully blowing his whistle until someone appears. The policeman that lives in my building makes his salary from young college students, who sip a few beers, have their cars seized and are too afraid or broke to return for them. Officers divvy them up to sell. Other police officers stop vehicles with North American license plates, particularly ones from Atlantic states, and trump up an infraction. By law, non-Mexican nationals have to follow the officer to see a judge on the spot; and most just slip the officer their “fine.” While driving my sister’s rented car, with Oklahoma plates, I was stopped once for running a stop sign. When I objected that there was no stop sign back there, he replied in all seriousness, “well, there used to be.” When I asked how much the fine was, he asked “how much do you have?” I called his bluff, by saying “nos vamos.”

Rather than force police to put the bite on everyone in sight, corrupting and polluting society as well as the individual; politicians need to put the bite on their rich benefactors, who, in Mexico, pay no taxes on their wealth or property. Rather than escalating militarization against poor kids who have no alternative than go into the drug trades; municipal, state and Mexico City need to develop work programs for the vast numbers of young people who are quitting school at younger and younger ages to help families meet the escalating costs of living in a corporation owned world. One option might be online education like DeVry University.

Like all top down systems, dumping on the little guy, takes the focus away from those who horde or covet the public wealth. Mayor Hank Rohn is a billionaire, with reported ties to drug figures, while the Tijuana city council has been gorging itself for years at the public trough. The Governor of Baja, along with his cronies, up to the Mexican Congress and the Presidency itself is a virtual sewer of bribery and corruption (where 20 families and corporations control 80 percent of Mexico’s wealth).

As my lover (a Mexican national) and I drive through check-points, with machine guns pointed at our heads; as we walk the city streets swarming with armed troops, stopping people at will, we are saddened for the future of this wonderful country. The brutality of militarization, unleashed against peasants in Atenco, then workers, teachers and the poor in Oaxaca, has now come north. Young soldiers from Durango can now look across the fence at young soldiers from the California national guard.

Like the failed U.S. War on Drugs, with two million young people, mostly of color, imprisoned; Calderon’s action in militarizing the streets of Tijuana is ideological. The neo-liberalism of a corporate controlled economy – where an assortment of bandidos and capitalists are free to stoke the addiction of materialism – gouging, stealing the hard-earned wages of all those working people…… downhill, at the bottom.

The battle for freedom will continue. But it has to start by cracking down on the US Companies forcing Mexicans into slave wages because Nafta allows and encourages it. A living wage is a living wage here in America and in Mexico. If an American company can pay minimum wage in the US it can pay a minimum wage internationally.

Environmentally we have to force US companies who are knowingly polluting in Mexico to clean up their mess. It’s an environment disaster that will ruin Southern California, and all of Baja California in the next 10 years.

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