In Mexico impunity is not only a privilege, it is also a gift. If you know the right people, and are in the right place, those in power will sometimes bequeath you the right to do as you please.
|Carlos Felton: Partier in Chief
Carlos Felton, the mayor of Mazatlán, in Mexico’s Sinaloa state, drove that home recently when he told hundreds of young people at the Second National Congress for Innovation in Education that, as visitors in his town, they could avoid a breathalyzer test if they flashed their Congress membership card.
“Don’t forget to enjoy some good scallops with a Pacifico beer,” he told the kids. “If you are stopped for a breathalyzer test, just pull out your card from the Second National Congress for Innovation in Education.”
Felton went on to encourage the Congress organizers not to keep the students cooped up inside, but to let them go out and party, given that they were engaged in “learning something as important as teaching.”
That was some cool advice, met with whoops of joy by the hundreds of attendees, but is it really innovative? Mexican mayors have been living above the law for hundreds of years. Advising the country’s promising youth that they can get in on the game sounds like more of the same.
If anything, these student teachers are getting an education in how to work the system. Clearly, those closest to power are afforded special privileges that place them above the law. Then again, it’s understandable, given that the “law” in Mexico is enforced in such an arbitrary fashion.
It goes something like this: if you are connected, you have complete impunity; if you are rich enough, you can pay the bribe; if you can’t afford that, you’ll have to settle for the fine; and if you’re really shit poor, then you’ll go to jail for, well, no one really knows how long.
In the past, Felton has sung the praises of his city’s breathalyzer program, saying that for every drunk driver taken off the road a life might be saved.