By Luis Elizalde*
|With every bribe, with every illegal act, we all become accomplices|
I helped El Chapo escape. And you, who is reading this, and you, and you. Yes, this is going to be a radical post, but what do you want? That’s me.
The first time I helped El Chapo was, perhaps, in February 1986 when I finally got my first fake ID and used it to get into the News, a popular disco in El Pedregal, and get blissfully drunk.
The second time was in ’87 when I got my “no-test” driver’s license by paying 300 pesos more, for which, obviously, I received no receipt.
The third was the first time I ran a light and fell back on the proverbial “How can we fix this, officer?” The fourth, when Messrs. Johnnie and Walker helped me pass a remedial geography course with a gift for my dipsomaniac teacher.
And I could continue with countless episodes in which a bribe took place.
The last time I helped him was with his tunnel two weeks ago when a cop pulled me over because my car’s emissions test had expired. I preferred to resolve the matter in a pleasant and friendly manner with two Sor Juanas (200-peso notes), instead of paying the ticket, allowing my car to be towed away and dealing with all the fucking hassle.
You have helped, too, when you double-park “very quickly because you’re only just going close by,” or when you buy pirated movies, or when you bribe the alcohol inspectors because your restaurant’s license has expired and renewing it is a fuss, or you who voted for the PRI, or you who didn’t vote.
It’s a radical point of view, as I said, but I consider it as real as El Chapo’s escape.
My father-in-law used to say that “nobody can get through the three honests:”
You ask someone, “Are you honest?”
And they answer, “Yes.”
You ask again: “Honest, honest?”
And they answer again: “Yes, yes.”
You ask once again: ““Honest, honest, honest?”
And then the person being asked will always say, “Weeelll, I mean, define honest, because, you see . . . .”
And, yeah. Nobody can endure the three honests. It sounds like a joke, but it isn’t. We live in a country in which we are told from childhood that “if you don’t cheat, you don’t get ahead.”
That seems to be the motto. That’s how “the system” works. Alas, it is sometimes cheaper to bribe someone and get things done than become “misterthreehonests,” because in many cases if you want to resolve a bureaucratic procedure, you must bribe someone.
Is it Mexican genetics?
Not at all, and you simply have to cross from Tijuana to Chula Vista to find out. The Mexicans who run lights and leave litter in Baja California are the same as those in California who stop at stop signs, and for whom the idea of spitting chewing gum on the sidewalk never even crosses their minds.
Why? Because they know that if they do that in the United States they’re in deep shit.
And it’s not like our northern neighbors aren’t corrupt, it’s that their corruption doesn’t affect ordinary citizens so directly.
I lived for two years in Texas, and at first I felt like a hot shot and insulted everyone because of the oppressivedamngringos, they call it the land of the free but won’t let you do anything, etc.
I quickly realized that everything there works like clockwork. It’s im-pres-sive. As an example, if you run a light and get pulled over by a cop, don’t even think about asking “What’s up, officer, is there a way to fix this problem outside the court?” because you’ll probably end up in jail instead of court.
Tax collection there does have an impact on public health and schools, on colleges, roads, streetlights and many more services.
So no, we aren’t born like this nor is it ingrained in our DNA. We just know that here in our home, for better or worse, we can do whatever the hell we want, and we can solve anything with threats, influence, a little (or large) bribe, or just by playing the fool.
Because the institutions don’t work.
There’s too many people who don’t pay taxes. Can we blame them? Have you had something taken care of at the Seguro Social? You’ll bleed to death before someone even admits you.
Do your kids attend a public school? God-for-bid. Are the roads and streetlights in your cities terrific? Are you fucking kidding me?
No, no and no. The list could go on with thousands of no’s.
Even if you want to be well-behaved and do stuff without cheating, you’ll realize sooner rather than later that “the system” works better if you take the easier road. As in: the illegal one.
Sad. Very sad.
So if you are one of those who paid off your ex’s lawyer to get a better deal out of the divorce, or don’t pay taxes, or got an innocent joint from someone at the office to have a good time, or benefited from your government’s contractors and built yourself an eight-million-dollar mansion with public funds, you too helped El Chapo build that tunnel.
A tunnel that we know nobody used to escape. We all know that El Chapo left by walking out through the front door, whistling Raphael’s “today is a special day for me, cause I’ll go out at night.”
He managed to do this while unloading cartloads of cash left and right. And nobody was surprised he escaped. It was logical. It’s Mexico.
A Mexico built by you and me.
This, of course, doesn’t make me proud. This is simply a very brief chronicle of this sick country in which we live.
*Luis Elizalde is executive vice-president and chief creative officer at the communications and advertising agency, Saatchi & Saatchi México.
By Luis Elizalde
By Luis Elizalde
By Luis Elizalde