Señor Hobbes, South of the Border

Letras Libres editor Enrique Krauze marks the bicentennial of Mexico's war for independence from Spain with an op-ed in Wednesday's New York Times. Krauze sees a pattern: every one hundred years, Mexico has been rocked by a revolution lasting ten or more years that "were so destructive it took decades" for the country to recover. It happened in 1810, 1910, and, Krauze warns, it may be happening again in 2010 as Mexico is "convulsed with violence," although he notes that this time the conflict does not come close to the others in "size and scope."

He also points out that the current fighting is between criminal gangs, whereas the revolutions in 1810 and 1910 were "clashes of ideals." But Krauze says the current violence "has created a Hobbesian situation of human brutality," an "unintentional result" of Mexico's transition to full-fledged democracy. In turn, Krauze urges the Mexican Congress and President Felipe Calderón to fight the current struggle "within the rules of democracy"--making the economy more efficient and open, creating a centralized, honest police force, and improving prisons, customs control, the judicial system, and anti-drug-addiction campaigns. Not only that, the situation "will have to be resolved on both sides of the border," since the demand for drugs and weapons in the United States is a significant cause of the violence. Nevertheless, Krauze writes, the current problems won't stop Mexicans from flooding plazas across Mexico to celebrate their call to independence "with genuine feeling: 'Viva México!'"