Way down in Mexico you went out to find a doctor and you never came back.
I would have gone after you but I didn't feel like letting my head get blown off. - Bob Dylan
It's such a blinding embarassment of weirdness out there, it's hard to know where to look these days. But we need to keep looking at Mexico. Its loose threads may help us tie up things elsewhere.
Of course there's the staggered rebellion of the disenfrachised, belittled or ignored by the same media that lionized and tub-thumped Ukraine's "Orange Revolution." But there are also some curious developments, seemingly out of the blue, in the case of the Ciudad Juárez ritual killings of hundreds of women that may lead us into the black.
Last Thursday in Mexico City, coincident with the delivery of John Karr into the embrace of Homeland Security, came the crowing announcement from the US Embassy that a Mexican citizen was being held in the United States on suspicion of the rape and killing of at least 10 of the women. By another coincidence, Edgar Alvarez Cruz was arrested in Denver, Colorado.
There have since been two more arrests on American soil, one in West Virginia and the other in Sierra Blanca, Texas. The three are being held in El Paso, and are expected to be handed into the care of Mexican authorities some time this week, at least several of whom would appear to be less than grateful:
Some Mexican authorities said privately that they were caught off guard by what they called U.S. Ambassador Tony Garza's "premature announcement" Thursday of the first arrest. Mr. Garza called the arrest of Mr. Álvarez a "major break" in the investigation. But a Mexican law-enforcement official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said the announcement could "jeopardize the ongoing investigation."
Have we heard something like that recently? Though to be truthful, there doesn't appear to have been much of an investigation ongoing: just three weeks ago a headline in The Independent read "Human rights groups attack decision to close Juarez murders investigation."
These aren't the first arrests in the case, though the consensus of victims' families is that none of the men previously arrested had anything to do with the murders. Two died in custody, one had his conviction overturned, and two of their attorneys were shot to death.
"This case is the most symbolic of everything that has gone wrong in Juarez," Laurie Freeman, a Mexico specialist with the Washington Office on Latin America, told the Denver Post. "It's the one that makes me believe that there is some sort of official complicity in some of the killings."
When I saw that quote several days ago, I thought it might be a good idea to copy the body of the article and not just make note of the link. It was a good idea: the article has since been updated, and the only change I can see is that Freeman's reference to official complicity has been deleted.
Diana Washington Valdez, an investigative reporter for the El Paso Times and author of Harvest of Women, isn't so shy:
The best information we have is that these men are committing crimes simply for the sport of it.... We know of people who've told stories about escaping from certain parties, orgies, which some of these people were present -- they were recognizable people from Juarez society, from Mexican society.
The authorities know who the killers are, and nothing's being done about it. We have two issues here: people who are getting away with murder, and... authorities who have become accomplices, and so this has become crimes of the state.
But those are the Mexican elites and Mexican parties of Mexican high society, protected by Mexican authority. Such things, of course, are inconceivable across the Rio Grande.