The New Yorker published an article in October of 2010, by William Finnegan, about a noteworthy paradox: while previously peaceful cities like Monterrey were becoming battlegrounds for the drug war, other cities which were notorious for their drug violence like Tijuana -and now Ciudad Juarez- violence had been contained. In both of these cities the US Media, businessmen, and President Calderon himself gave credit to Lieutenant Julian Leyzaola, the type of man that thrives in these violent environments.
Leyzaola has survived a series of assassination attempts in Tijuana and Ciudad Juarez, understandingly, for he was also responsible for dismantling and ‘putting in shape’ Tijuana’s and Ciudad Juarez’s corrupt police forces. However, at what cost?
Mr. Finnegan interviews in the piece several ex-cops who give chilling testimonials of the torture and persecution they suffered by Lt. Leyzoala and his men, which in some cynical way reproduces the same type of actions which occur in blunt war, while authorities keep maintaining the denial that what occurs in Mexico is not actual war. Reading the article, I tried to understand Leyzaola’s train of thought through what is said about him, and his own words.
I could easily follow that for him persons are not really persons but objects or animals that can be used and abused ruthlessly in order to reach his objectives. His discourse reveals he dehumanizes his victims, when he kicks their dead bodies and has little qualms about attaching electrodes to their genitals.
But this is war, a full-scale war that Mr. Calderon launched without thinking of the consequences, has no end because of the fortunes and profits that are made by having the biggest narcotics market just north of our border.
Instead of launching the hawks like Lt. Leyzoala against the drug cartels, Calderon should have begun reforming the Mexican justice system, which is filled with very evident holes, and rather follow the money trail, money laundering, and other illicit financial operations. Given the consequences, it has become clear that he should have tried to outsmart the criminals and not only use brute force against them.
Unfortunately, that is now too late, at least for victims of this drug war, which seems to have no end due to the new set of problems that have arisen and the will of the current presidential candidates to give continuity to the military offensive launched by Calderon.
Woland Bolkonsky is a Russian national who lived and loved Mexico during the ten years he spent working at a food-processing transnational company.