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390,000 deaths (murders) in 16 years in Mexico.

390,000 deaths (overdose) in 4 years in US.

We all continue on.

Crime pays.

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The resilience of Mexico really is something. Especially when you factor in what seems to be some pretty ruthless American realpolitik over the long decades since before the US Marines visited the halls of Montezuma.

That said, I cant help but think something has been lost, in the creation of a population able to take such things in stride and be open for business that same day.

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Aug 14, 2023Liked by Ioan Grillo

Hi, thanks for another insightful piece!

I wanted to ask you about the grafitti photo in the beginning of the article... Why did you choose it and how it is related to the article? I'm just curious, since I know very well where it is located and never thought about it twice, until now.

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Jan 11Liked by Ioan Grillo

Any go to Mexican journalists that you can recommend Ioan, en espanol? Books and articles would be great, have a read enough already, but really curious about the situation just after the capture of Felix Gallardo up untill the time Calderon declares against the cartels.

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Its crazy to me how quickly and suddenly things can change in Mexico both geographically and as a matter of time. When I visited Puerto Vallarta locals swore on the citys safety and I felt completely at ease walking the streets in the middle of the night. But was warned not to travel on certain roads outside the city because of safety dangers. However visiting family just outside Mexico City about a 30 minute drive from the airport, I know i cannot venture out at night in the neighborhood my family stays in. I also visit Oaxaca frequently and at least in the places I go to I often feel shielded from the greater safety problems seen in other parts of the country. I think its just a testament to how large a country like Mexico really is. Just like the government cannot ensure complete safety in all corners of the country, organized crime on the same token has not been able to infiltrate the country in its entirety either. Although i guess you could argue it is not in their interest to disturb heavenly like touristy areas. Thanks for the insight!

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Aug 16, 2023Liked by Ioan Grillo

One important aspect of your article was the dichotomy between a growing economy and the cartel violence. I think a perfect example in the past that may explain Mexico's situation is Miami, Florida in the 1980's. Flush with money from the expansion of Pablo Escobar's cocaine distribution and the beginnings of the Medellin cartel, that money fueled building construction and the establishment of businesses to launder the cash. Of course that underground economy provided jobs also. But Miami's economic growth was fueled by incredible violence. Mexico is in the same situation. US banks flushed with cash from laundering drug money investing cash in Mexico without too much government oversight and global development again without almost any restrictions. Corruption is deep through Mexico's government agencies. Tijuana is a good example of a modern developing city with the growing urban, global culture that is so admired by a new and thriving generation. But Tijuana is sitting on a violent volcano that always erupts in very violent episodes. Giant multi- national corporations thrive on this economic environment of unrestricted business to grow at whatever cost to the city, state or country they are doing business in. There was only one reason Wal-Mart expanded in Mexico and that was bribing the cartels to build their stores.

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Aug 15, 2023Liked by Ioan Grillo

"exhibut" is a pretty fun typo. It sounds like a new word that accurately describes 30% of Instagram's content.

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objective analysis and good write-up

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Aug 15, 2023Liked by Ioan Grillo

Mexico has dealt with violence since it's beginning as an independent country. Mexico's resiliency has been built up over decades and generations. With Mexico's various revolutions, people in Mexico have seen the repeated betrayal by those promising real change and land reform. I think that has created a sense of fatalism and blindness towards the corruption and violence. But there is an idea of justice and legitimate retribution that is still in the spirit of the Mexican psyche whether it is some law enforcement, military, political or ordinary citizens. The revolutionary upsurge in the early 1900's and 1960's including the massive uprising during the 1968 Olympics in Mexico City and in Culiacan, the Chiapas insurgency and many of the armed vigilante groups that have arisen against the cartels still show that desire for justice still lingers. The president of El Salvador is not only popular in El Salvador for his year long attack campaign against MS 13 and 18th Barrio Street gangs but also all through Central America, South American and Mexico. Unfortunately increasing drug use by Mexican citizens particularly younger citizens and the allure of the fantasy of living in the United States is making that spirit harder to find.

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I can only imagine that like drug tolerance after months of use, the very same principle applies to cultural tolerance of hyper violence, especially since there are multiple generations of kids who are growing up on soil thats drenched in human blood.

Aztecs cut off heads upon sacrificial altars as ceremonial offerings to their Gods for good crops, healing of illnesses or just to make them happy...to avoid chaos(natural disasters)

Today the Sacrifices may serve in a very similar way, as offerings to a desired outcome,...one with no less an aspect of ceremonial violence,..one that has become commonplace, the status quo.

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The "normalness" of carrying on during and after violence occurs in many violent or war zones. I saw it in El Salvador during the war there, and also after gun violence in the California city where I live. It's a coping mechanism, yes, though also often an economic necessity. It doesn't mean there are not emotional and psychic costs that emerge in other contexts. Thanks for the excellent piece and continued reporting.

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