What to Expect From Mexico in 2011

by Victor Davis Hanson


We will see more of the same in 2011 in Mexico. The drug cartel killing spree raises a number of less discussed considerations. We are told the huge American demand for drugs, both grown and manufactured, creates the problem; perhaps in part, but note that we have a longer, more porous border with Canada and we are not seeing a shoot ’em up culture arising in Calgary or Toronto over meth or heroin exporting to the US. Something else is going on as well. We were also told that the continuation of massive illegal immigration from Mexico to the US at least had a ‘safety valve’ effect that lessened tensions in Mexico while earning it nation-saving foreign exchange; but after 11-16 million Mexican nationals have fled to the United States in the last 20 years, exactly how has that mass flight and ensuing remittances of an estimated $30 billion per annum made things any better in Mexico?

In short, everything from the drug industry to illegal immigration is symptomatic of a larger pathology in the sense that Mexico has not embraced open markets, truly consensual government, respect for private property, transparency, and an independent judiciary — in the style of the reformist agendas in Chile and Brazil — and thus cannot provide security and prosperity for its own people. We could legalize drugs, let in another 20 million illegal aliens, allow $100 million to be sent back to Mexico from nationals here — and there would still be violence and instability in Mexico.

The answer is not to intervene in Mexico, but in polite and friendly fashion to distance ourselves a bit from Mexico, by securing the border and ending illegal immigration. America’s drug appetite, and an open border between two vastly different societies, coupled with the disruptive effect of draining Oaxaca and other provinces of working-age males, are only force multipliers of Mexico’s more fundamental unwillingness or inability to fully westernize. In a larger sense, America has never been honest about American-Mexican relations of the last half-century, and the result is that millions here and in Mexico do not dare ponder exactly why millions risk their lives to come northward to a country that is constructed as some sort of exploiter in the Mexican mental landscape, and as not much better here at home in elite multicultural circles.

There will be no real progress until those on both sides of the border begin the painful discussion of why America works and why apparently millions of Mexicans want to be part of it rather than of their own native Mexico. Blaming America or creating an Orwellian situation in which millions of illegally residing Mexican nationals are hyper-critical of or indifferent to the US, while wanting amnesty from it, is sadly illustrative of the our shared inability to address the problem.

©2011 Victor Davis Hanson

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