The Moon Is Aglow

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The U.S. consulate has closed in Nuevo Laredo, Mexico, as the city's ongoing drug cartel war heats up. Meanwhile, the cops don't have enough guns to go around and are only patrolling part of the city. Here's a snapshot from the San Antonio Express-News:

By most accounts, the recent attack was particularly brazen. According to media reports, more than 1,000 rounds of ammunition were fired, turning quiet Mexicali Street in the tony Campestre neighborhood into a virtual war zone.

Using rocket-propelled grenades, assailants tore three big holes through the blue outer wall of a once-charming house. Windows a full block away were shattered. A 15-minute shootout ensued between those inside the house and the attackers.

No one was believed killed in the battle, and no one has been arrested, though [police commander Jesus Muro Garcia] said several people at the home may have been kidnapped. He did not know who lived there.

An enormous chunk of the old police force was fired en masse earlier this summer, following a corruption investigation and a shootout between local cops and the federales. Hundreds more were taken off the job temporarily:

In all, 460 city police officers have been cleared to return to work six weeks after 700 of them were yanked off the street in a massive anti-corruption probe….

But only those whose weapons have been delivered are back on patrol, Muro said. Others mill about the downtown substation in their pressed black and white new uniforms, filled with a restless nervousness.

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  1. How is the state of border towns in Mexico unlike anarcho-capitalism?

  2. Um…the heavy presence of government, and of illicit trades made profitable by the government’s prohibitions?

  3. There are actually some people who don’t have guns?

  4. 1,000 rounds of ammo and three RPGs(!) fired in a 15-minute gun battle, resulting in . . . no deaths and no arrests? Cue the ethnic jokes!

  5. Well, just to play devil’s advocate here, I would say that what we have in Nuevo Laredo is a lot more like anarchy than you might think, for the following reasons:

    There isn’t an effective government presence in large portions of the town. The police force has been drastically downsized, and large portions have been in, effectively, “private” employ for years. If you want to know what the absence of any prospect of law enforcement looks like, folks, go to Nuevo Laredo.

    Much of the money funding the gangs comes from “illegal” goods and services, but the illegality all happens somewhere other than NL, if you see what I mean, due to the near-total absence of law enforcement. As far as the locals are concerned, these are just profitable lines of business to be in.

    Since there will be profitable lines of business even in anarchy heaven, together with a total lack of law enforcement, exactly how is Nuevo Laredo not a cautionary tale for anarchists, again?

    Mind you, I’m a good old-fashioned guns-n-dope libertarian, but one who believes that a night watchman state is an essential part of any functional society. I regard Nuevo Laredo as proof of the latter proposition, is all.

  6. R.C.: There’s a giant difference, isn’t there, between private employment and public corruption?

    Also, most variants of anarcho-capitalism do not propose a “total lack of law enforcement”; they propose a minimal law code whose enforcement is not monopolized by a single agency.

    There’s a lot of political lessons here, but I don’t this has much to say about those hoary old anarchism vs. minarchism debates. (If anything, it makes the minarchists look bad, since it reminds us that public police aren’t necessarily going to act in the public interest. Though I wouldn’t want to stretch that argument too far — I suspect there are corrupt private security guards in Nuevo Laredo too.)

  7. Shouldn’t Oliver Stone be making a movie about this?

  8. 1000 rounds? RPG’s? Sounds more like Robert Rodriguez fare than Oliver Stone to me.

    Were any of the RPG’s fired from a guitar case, by any chance?

  9. Given that there were allegedly no fatalities, it sounds more like an episode of The A-Team.

  10. and/or terminator II

    personally, with all the collapsing buildings and kidnnapping sub-plots, this one seems more like Jerry Bruckheimer to me…

  11. “Shouldn’t Oliver Stone be making a movie about this?”

    No, man, Quentin Tarantino!

  12. The super-secret agenda of the War on Drugs is to give anarchy a bad name.
    To think the War on Drugs has clouded a few minds even here on H&R is damn discouraging.

  13. Government bans activity
    activity continues
    Government sends armed enforcers
    threatened gangsters defend themselves
    Government enforcers funded through extortion
    gangsters funded through creation of black market
    Conflict costs both sides bucu cash

    Where’s the fucking anarchism in that? Half the fight isn’t even the ones bearing the brunt of the cost of their own policies. If the police were a profit driven private firm they would have negotiated peace by now.

  14. Anarchism is an incredibly stupid idea.

    Discuss.

  15. agent provocateur,
    Before beginning the discussion, we must be able to distinguish between chaos and complexity.

  16. I suppose this will drive the price of cheap souvineers way down. Woo-hoo! Shiny sombreros for everyone!

  17. The anarchists on the thread are overlooking the fact that the vast majority of the violence in Nuevo Laredo is gang-on-gang violence. These are “private firms”, and they most emphatically are not “negotiating peace” with one another.

    Lets say the government of Mexico says “Alright. We give up. We will no longer attempt to impose our jurisdiction on Nuevo Laredo. Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the law.” Does anyone really think this will usher in a new millenium of peace and prosperity in Nuevo Laredo?

    Granted, like I said, I was playing devil’s advocate. I think that a deeply dysfunctional and overreaching state did a lot to lay the groundwork for what we see in Nuevo Laredo today.

    But to pretend that in an anarchy everything will be peaches and cream, when in stateless areas around the globe and throughout history the opposite has been the case, strikes me as willful blindness.

    Oh, and one question – what kind of ‘anarchy’ has laws, anyway? Doesn’t that presuppose the existence of an authoritative source for the laws, to wit, a state? Once you start talking about a society with laws that are enforceable against all members of society regardless of whether they have individually consented to abide by each individual law, then you are no longer talking about anarchy, but some version of minarchy.

  18. In other words, RC, there can be no Anarchy in One Country?

  19. My knowledge of the typical police force in Mexico is that it’s basically a for-profit enterprise for each officer, and in order to keep his police priveleges he must pay tribute to the police chief on a montly basis. In order to do that he’s got to be aggressive in generating revenue which means basically hitting people up for money (bribes) and charging for services.

    That kind of corruption is no one’s idea of an effective police force, but it is slowly becoming the norm in the US as police forces continue to beg for expansion and getting it without commensurate funding increases – so the police departments further the practice of asset forfeiture to fund themselves.

  20. “Where’s the fucking anarchism in that?”

    Many of the federalies in border towns are working, essentially, as private contractors.

    …I used to see them in the bars on Revolution. The same cops in the same bars weekend after weekend. My understanding was that the bar owners hired them to be there–to protect the bar owner from other federalies.

  21. the cops don’t have enough guns to go around and are only patrolling part of the city.

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