Open Roads to Nowhere

Letter From Mexico

SLOW TRAFFIC RIGHT LANE.  It is a simple concept if you are literate and socially conscious.  Consideration for others, however—the idea that you are not alone in the world and that it does not belong exclusively to you—is not an inborn value, but one taught by family and society.  The realization that, while we may have our own way of living and path to follow, others have theirs and we must not cause hindrance or obstruct forward progress, is cultural in origin, and neither instinctual nor universal.

In a perfect hemisphere, all would share an harmonious ideal of traveling across the continent in security and ease, a river of goods and services.  While we are not flying on magic carpets, we do have social norms and customs that allow for an orderly movement of people and products.  And, indeed, the Open Roads provision of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) would have us believe that such is the case throughout the Western Hemisphere.  But only someone who has never driven in Mexico could fall for such a fantasy.

Imagine a country where might makes right, a nation not of law and order but of the institutionalized abuse of power throughout society, where law-enforcement officials are part of almost every known band of professional kidnappers, and police commit armed robberies, killing their own colleagues in the line of duty; where those involved in kidnapping, drug...

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