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    Posted December 17, 2010 by
    San Diego, California

    Mexico - A Police State Courtesty of the USA


    The United States government is masterful at pushing problems over its borders, a destructive practice that robs entire nations of day-to-day freedoms.

    A bus trip from Mexico City to the United States offers an extreme example of this. Thanks to the wildly unsuccessful War on Drugs, northbound Mexican highways have become a police state at best. At worst, travelers find their buses aggressively boarded by mysterious individuals with no uniforms or identification, scrounging through luggage with greasy hands, tearing into the vehicle with power tools and harassing anyone who they believe may be scared out of a few pesos.

    The following is no exaggeration or second-hand account, but rather my own personal experience from December 8-11, 2010. My Mexican journey began in the southern city of Chetumal and terminated in the northern city of Tijuana. As there is no direct bus from Chetumal to Tijuanna, the trip requires the purchase of two separate tickets. The Chetumal-Mexico City leg of the voyage, a nearly 20-hour span, offers a few signs of what’s to come.


    Departing Chetumal late afternoon, the bus halts mysteriously on a barren rural highway sometime after midnight, orange glowing construction cones placed on both sides of the roadway. One uniformed soldier boards, an angry scowl on his face. He strolls excessively slowly, pausing with each step to stare at length towards the tired passengers in each row of seats. I’m near the rear of the vehicle, the two rows of seats behind me empty. The soldier finally steps past me after an even longer glare than normal. He seems an especially small man trying to make up for his size with a sidearm.

    The soldier's eyes burn on the back of my head. He just stands there, arms-length from behind…..15 seconds…….30 seconds….60 seconds, then finally steps forward to face me again. I stare out the window, attempting to appear disinterested. Waiting several more seconds, the soldier finally grunts, pointing his flashlight at my small black backpack. I open the pack. He casually pokes around inside, uninterested, putting little effort into the search. He returns to glaring, then finally says “passport” with barely discernable pronunciation. He shows no more interest in the passport than he had in the bag. He knows all eyes are to the front and nobody’s looking from behind. I’ve played the game before, though, having seen this money hungry glare in many official eyes. I stare back with a poker face. The soldier makes a final grunt, returning my USA passport and strolling back outside to await the next bus.

    Finally getting back to sleep, I’m promptly reawakened by an immigration official poking at my shoulder, dressed in all black. Early pre-dawn hours, another stop, another immigration official. This is going to be a long trip. They will wear this passport out.  I’ll never get to sleep.

    That was nothing………..

    Arrive midday to Mexico City. Board Tijuana bound bus just before dark.

    The next checkpoint comes before ever leaving the city. Officers board with black hats bearing the letters “AFI”. A few miles later Policia Federal in sleek blue cars and tidy uniforms get in on the action. A member of the stern-faced Federale crew steps aside from his cruiser, making an excessively dramatic scene of unbuttoning his sidearm holster. He boards the bus, his finger on the trigger while slowly moving down the isle. Anyone appearing suspect is greeted with longer stares and a firmer grip on the gun. Barney Fife himself couldn’t have put on a better show.

    The bus travels freely through the late night hours, offering no sign of what absurdity the final 36 hours of this journey will bring.

    Come morning we roll into a military checkpoint, officers armed with assault rifles behind sandbag bunkers. All passengers are ordered to exit the bus as the luggage compartments are searched. The soldiers attempt to coax drug sniffing dogs into the compartments with tennis balls on strings but get no K9 compliance. The next stop comes barely 10 miles later. An officer in a pressed white shirt bearing a large gold police star requests to see my Mexican entry card.

    Fifteen hours north of Mexico City. The intensity of the checkpoints increases dramatically. The bus is boarded one or twice per hour by gangs of unidentified men carrying pockets full of tools. Highway 24, marker 127. A group of 4 surround my seat at the rear of the bus, asking questions and sizing me up with sinister expressions. These people have the look and feel of thugs, not cops. They move back outside but the bus can't yet depart because another group of cop-thugs is dismantling parts of the vehicle's exterior with power drills, looking behind panels and inside the engine compartment.

    A huge young man boards with his plain black hat cocked sideways, prying on the ceiling panels with a screwdriver while peering up underneath them. The sounds of cracking wood and plastic follow as he works his way to the rear. He unscrews and pulls up the seat cushions of the back seats, tearing the foam underneath. Unable to reassemble the damaged seats, he walks back up towards me. I ignore his silent stare, looking out the window till he whacks the empty seat next to me with a flashlight. We stare at each other for several seconds before he asks where I'm going, then stare several more seconds after my answer. Once outside, he keeps constant eye contact with me through the windows. His black hat comes flying towards my face as the bus departs, bouncing off the window right in front of me. When these people do find drugs, might the drugs just end up back on the streets?

    Not 30-seconds after the hat incident, not a quarter-mile down the road, a uniformed officer demands that all passengers exit the bus for yet more searching. It's absolute absurdity, boarded every few minutes, the situation confounded by armies of vendors laying wait at every checkpoint. Three snack vendors board behind a soldier armed with an assault rifle. Often, the vendors jump on the bus before the checkpoint personnel. In the most extreme of such cases, an entire wall of vendors forms across the roadway at an agricultural checkpoint. Noticing the bus's approach, they drag racks of jewelry, clothing and food to form a solid line, loudly and repeatedly shouting the identity of their goods. The impromptu store is fully assembled before the first passenger exits, then completely disappears before the last passenger reboards.

    Just before midnight begins the event that prompted me to write this article- stuck at a checkpoint for nine hours with hundreds of other buses, thousands of other passengers. We roll to a stop behind a line of other buses, all waiting to pass through a checkpoint a mile ahead. The driver pulls one bus-length ahead every 15 to 20 minutes all night long. All other traffic, cars and semi trucks, pass through the checkpoint relatively freely, their lines not backed up.

    The checkpoint is still hundreds of meters away at dawn, the line of buses behind us having grown off into the horizon. A steady stream of passengers abandon the rides they paid for, walking through the checkpoint to catch new rides on the other side. Delayed 9 hours, my bus finally passes through. A trip that was scheduled to end at 11AM is extended until 10PM. The extra two hours of delay come from the accumulated time lost in a no fewer than a dozen more checkpoints.

    Busses are the main form of transportation in Mexico. How can the government allow their infrastructure to suffer so severely? The drugs searched for in Mexico are bound for the USA, not Mexico, so again, why would the Mexican government be willing to cripple a vital transportation infrastructure?

    Answer: The US War on Drugs. The American government gives Mexico vast sums of money in exchange for turning their country into a police state. American citizens, armed with time, money and lawyers, would never quietly succumb to such a lifestyle. The solution; push the problem over to the other side of the border. One thing is certain, Mexican citizens no longer have any say in the matter so lets give them a voice. With this article lets spread the word and begin a dialog aimed at pressuring the United States government to respect the right of Mexican citizens to travel freely within their own country.


    US money created this problem and can also fix it.

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