South of the Border

Marching on Behalf of a Gangster

March 06, 2014

Multiple Pages
Marching on Behalf of a Gangster

Last week, a crowd estimated at between 1,000 and 2,000 Mexicans marched and demonstrated in support of captured drug lord Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman while chanting “release him” to the tunes of a brass band.

On Univision, an eyewitness said that demonstrators were crying and lamenting El Chapo’s arrest. (“Chapo” translates roughly as “Shorty.”) A protestor bore a sign that stated “Queremos Libre Chapo” (“We want Chapo free”). Do the Sinaloa protestors believe that Mexican President Nieto will free Chapo because of their ridiculous demonstration? What is their objective? Have they even thought of one?

“I feel a little spooked at what this portends for our future. We are without a doubt importing many individuals who hold such values.”

One sign read: “Joaquin Guzman gave us jobs, not like you corrupt politicians.” This is dumb on several levels. What type of job security can a drug lord offer you? And why do the Mexicans assume it is politicians’ job to get them jobs? The Mexican people have legitimate gripes about their government and economy. But if Mexican immigrants to America feel entitled to government-made work, it does not bode well for those that would hope to limit the size of the American government.

This should give us pause. While it’s doubtful that El Chapo draws unanimous support in Mexico, it brings into question the values of people that advocate on behalf of a gangster. To what extent are we importing these values? To what extent does America already hold such pro-gangster values? 

Sure, America celebrates gangsters—in a fashion. We love fictional characters such as Tony Soprano, Don Corleone, Tony Montana, and real-life outlaws such as Billy the Kid. (Guzman, like Billy the Kid, once escaped from jail.) But it is still disturbing that the college dorm rooms of students across the US display posters of a grimly scowling Al Pacino as Scarface.

I like to think we would not literally march in support of one of these fictional characters, so I remain nonplussed at the march in Mexico. But I feel a little spooked at what this portends for our future. We are without a doubt importing many individuals who hold such values.


There is something universal about rooting for an outlaw—call it the id-driven fantasy of law-abiding citizens. But the level of support displayed at the Chapo protest is disturbing. 

In fairness, last Saturday some levelheaded Mexicans from El Chapo’s home state of Sinaloa marched “for peace”; in other words, they favored arresting the notorious drug trafficker yet were still careful not to identify their demonstration as “anti-Chapo.” Unfortunately, one report said this group numbered less than 100. These protestors bore signs with humble and almost touching messages, such as “Sinaloans are hardworking people.” There has to be something better coming out of Mexico than the world’s most powerful cartel boss, and these citizens felt the need to put out a more positive representation of their people. 

The pro-Chapo protest reveals a demented value system. There is a gaudy disorder inherent in such political unrest throughout Latin America, most recently in Venezuela. Have we not already seen shadows of such political action here in the United States as activist groups agitate for immigration reform by harassing congressmen in mob actions? I fear that the mob-protest phenomenon does not bode well for the future of civilized society. 

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