Thursday, September 17, 2009
Murder, She Drew
Image by Alice Leora Briggs. "One room is entirely full of bullets from the executions," Brigss said. "I saw an autopsy of a young man who was executed. There was a story in the New York Times about the morgue a day or so after I was there. The photos of the freezers had everything looking tidy. They must have cleaned for them. I was glad to get a different view....The bodies were all akimbo and not neatly wrapped up.... I see things on the news and compare it to what I saw and they do not always jive."
I posted about reading the novel 2666 earlier this year and about Femicide. (click on hyper link) The novel 2666 which is one of the best novels I've read in the last five years is set partly during the Juarez mass killings. Somehow...some writers and artists and musicans were so aware that there is not only a tragedy and war crimes occurring, they had the intuition to know that these killings have a lesson for all of us. The work coming out of this control system of death has been consistently powerful. From narco-corridos, to songs (Tori Amos is in my Femicide post) making playlists in U.S., to drawings, articles and novels, all have explored the questions we want to know about the human condition and why money, death and art are so connected. Why does the genocide and drug war in Mexico have anything to do with other countries in North America?
This isn’t some ugly conspiracy by corrupt American presidents. This is what’s called realpolitik. Tolerating the existence of a narco-state in Mexico is preferable to having an economic collapse in Mexico. Successive presidents have looked at the facts and made the same decision. ... It’s simply confronting reality. ... The effort of the border patrol to stop illegal immigration is also simply for show, because if we really bottled up Mexico and a half million people a year couldn’t come north, the economy would collapse.
"It is June 16, 2008, and in two days he will have his 45th birthday, should he live that long.
The military has again flooded northern Mexico, ever since President Felipe Calderón assumed office in December 2006 with a margin so razor thin that many Mexicans think he is an illegitimate president. One of his first acts was to declare a war on the nation's thriving drug industry, and his favorite tool was to be the Mexican Army, portrayed as less corrupt than the local or national police. Now some 45,000 soldiers, nearly 25 percent of the Army, are marauding all over the country, escalating the mayhem that consumes Mexico. In 2008, more than 6,000 Mexicans died in the drug violence, a larger loss than the United States has endured during the entire Iraq War. Since 2000, two dozen reporters have been officially recorded as murdered, at least seven more have vanished, and an unknown number have fled into the United States. But all numbers in Mexico are slippery, because people have so many ways of disappearing. In 2008, 188 Mexicans—cops, reporters, businesspeople—sought political asylum at US border crossings, more than twice as many as the year before. This is the wave of gore the man rides as he heads north." From Mother Jones Magazine article by Charles Bowden.
1) An interview with Charles Bowden
2) I highly recommend this whole article, it's a long one but so well written and insightful.
3) Amazon review of Juarez: Laboratory Of Our Future
4) Notes about Bowden's body of work
5) A really incredible slide show of Alice Leora Briggs drawings of the genocide in Mexico. The slide show also has a voice over with the artist.
6) 2666 at Amazon Books.