New York Times: “Give Us A King Like All Of The Other Nations”

BY Herschel Smith
7 months ago

Building a Mini-State With Avocados and Guns.

There is something intoxicatingly utopian about the story of Tancítaro.

This small town has succeeded at self-rule in a part of Mexico — the state of Michoacán, drug war ground zero — where so many similar experiments have failed. It is free of the drug cartels as well as the Mexican police and politicians who are widely seen as part of the problem. It has homegrown institutions. It is safe.

“It’s a nice town. You can walk around at day or night. It’s very nice,” Guillermo Valdés, a former head of Mexico’s national intelligence agency, told us this August. “They take care of themselves.”

Mr. Valdés told us about Tancítaro at the end of a long interview at a Mexico City cafe, where we had met him to discuss towns that were seceding in subtler ways. It was the sort of comment sometimes made after the formal questions have ended and the notebooks have closed, the casual aside that changes the whole story.

He’d recently visited Tancítaro for a book he was writing on the drug war and found its experiment in self-rule intriguing. It’s a global center in avocado production, exporting about $1 million worth every day. The orchard owners use that money to fund militias that guard and police the town.

But the more we heard about Tancítaro, the more that something seemed off. Something Mr. Valdés said stuck with us: “They expelled all the criminals.”

O.K., but how did they separate criminals from innocents? Who did the selection? There’s a version of this that sounds like frontier justice, rough but fair, and there’s a version that resembles towns controlled by drug cartels.

“It’s very hard to believe that Tancítaro is just this island of peace and perfect transparency in Michoacán,” said Romain Le Cour Grandmaison, who studies Central American security issues at Noria Research and has visited the town.

Falko Ernst, his colleague at the think tank, added, “You have an armed group acting on behalf of the real political authority, the grower’s council” — a body of wealthy orchard owners — “doing the cleansing in their name and in their interests.”

The more we learned about Tancítaro, the less utopian it sounded and the more dystopian.

But the truth, or at least what we came to understand of it, wasn’t exactly one or the other. And it wasn’t somewhere in the middle, either. It was, or seemed to be, both utopia and dystopia simultaneously.

Tancítaro is indeed pretty safe. The first evening that Dalia Martínez, a Michoacán-based journalist who worked with us on this article, visited town, there was a big street festival with families out. The streets were, as Mr. Valdés had said, safe, even at night. They were clean.

The avocado orchards were safe as well, guarded by another set of uniformed militias. There was a palpable change at the town’s perimeter, marking the edge of what militiamen called “tierra caliente” — hot ground, meaning cartel territory. The avocado trade appears to be booming.

But after a few days of scratching beneath the surface, it became clear that Tancítaro had become very good at providing security, but had developed almost none of the other basic functions of a state.

1$ million dollars per day of produce.  Frontier justice.  Oooo … we wouldn’t want frontier justice, now would we?  We need to have government functions, government programs, and according to the rest of the article, “ways for the citizens to get involved.”

So apparently the authors would like to see the cartels come back and horde the money for themselves and force others into slavery, while beheading the authorities.  This is the kind of moral equivalence only possible from graduates of American Marxist and feminist sociology programs.

And notice the most important thing.  Government functions and programs justifies a monopoly on violence in the minds of these authors.  As long as the powers give “free” stuff and enable “community involvement,” they have a right to the use of armed force, and no one else does, not even in self defense.  If you presume to defend yourself, according to these authors, you’d better be prepared to give stuff to people and enable community programs.

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Comments

  1. On January 19, 2018 at 8:39 am, Ned said:

    “But after a few days of scratching beneath the surface, it became clear that Tancítaro had become very good at providing security, but had developed almost none of the other basic functions of a state.”

    They take care of themselves – and still the Carlos Slim Blog finds fault.

    How much stuff does a private group have to give away to be considered providing functions of a “state?”

    Is the Carlos Slim Blog admitting that not all cultures are equal in this piece? Because that would be rayciss.

  2. On January 19, 2018 at 9:46 am, Fred said:

    @Herschel, This is a similar story as the one you did that had the title that went something like; “A touching story of violence and…something” It was a more lengthy post about an independent region (maybe area is better) in Mexico. It was a great post and got lots off comments. Can you find it and link it in this story please. Not only would it be a good cross reference but i’m interested to review that prior post for…reasons…

    Thanks.

    “They take care of themselves.”
    This is quite an admission but the bigger admission, that won’t be missed by the readers here, is that the NYT commies can’t have any of that now can they?

  3. On January 19, 2018 at 11:56 am, Herschel Smith said:

    @Fred,

    http://www.captainsjournal.com/2016/02/28/a-touching-and-heartwarming-story-of-violence-and-revolution/

    This was a hard one to find. Google must have deep-sixed this one.

  4. On January 19, 2018 at 12:05 pm, Fred said:

    Thank you so much. It occurred to me that the manner in which I had asked was a bit rude. Thanks again.

  5. On January 19, 2018 at 12:15 pm, Herschel Smith said:

    No problems on my end Fred. I’m just wondering why it was so hard to find this one.

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