Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Dressed to Kill

We've commented endlessly on the level of paranoia here in Queretaro - where the vast majority of the residents think the city is perfectly safe, where the statiststics show they're right, and yet where 86 percent believe that there should be even more security controls, and the elected officials (today, the governor) pander to this demand at every opportunity, turning the city, inch by inch, into a police state - and a heavily armed one at that.

64 9mm Beretta pistols; 65 semi-automatic Heckler&Koch 9mm pistols; 73 5.56mm x 45mm rifles; and 40 12-gauge Mossberg shotguns

...just to mention one recent upgrade - which would be great if there had been any mention of firearms training.

One thing to keep in mind about Queretaro is that it's not narco territory - drugs don't even pass through here on their way to someplace else. But a couple of days ago someone with a badge got word that a truckload of either arms or drugs was on the move here, and within minutes hundreds of local, state and federal police officers, AFI [FBI] agents, PGJ [justice dept] agents and Mexican Army troops from the 17th Zona Militar had mobilized and swarmed after the suspect vehicle like the final chase scene in The Blues Brothers, ran him off the road, seized the terrified drivers, and saved the populace from....450 packages of used clothing, much of which lacked the proper customs and taxation documents.

Since we're feeling benevolent today, we'll congratulate them on the fact that nobody was killed, but it's this sort of balls-to-the-wall over-reaction that makes us very uncomfortable when we see a cop directing traffic with a machine gun slung over his shoulder. Our favorite detail is that, of the eight people arrested, three were charged with trying to bribe a police officer, which just perfectly encapsulates the way people view the cops around here: hundreds of officers from about a dozen agencies haul these guys in, and almost half the arrestees think it's perfectly plausible that they might buy their way out jail with a handful of pesos. And we're giving these guys body armor and rocket launchers.

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