I have read a lot about Mexican middle class being oppressed by the threat of kidnapping and crime in general. I also read that in Brazil the middle class has dealt with the crime threat successfully by living in gated communities and staying away from the dangerous favelas. Well, so what’s the difference? What is different about Mexico that prevents the similar class-based apartheid from solving this problem? Or is it just a matter of not enough time elapsing, i.e. the problem is relatively new for Mexico and will get fixed in this way sometime later?
There are gated communities. I lived in one in Hermosillo for a year. On my penulimate day there, some paid mercenaries murdered the gate keeper at a different gated community, and shot the hell out of one of the houses there. It was allegedly a dispute over shrimp. :dubious:
Of course the big targets aren’t the middle class. It’s the rich. The middle class have to put up with stupid stuff like kidnap express (forcibly taken to an ATM to withdraw whatever can be withdrawn). Of course they’re not at home in their gated communities when this occurs, since middle class people typically have to leave home in order to work and preserve their middle class status, as well as to make purchases. There’s a large part of the day when one is vulnerable.
For the rich, you’re looking at organized, well-funded professional kidnappers (although when you see them on the news, they look like scumbags. Someone has to be behind these assholes). Often times, there’s corruption involved.
Kidnap express (and muggings and other assaults in general) are a Mexico City area problem more than in other parts of the country, but that’s not to say that it doesn’t happen in other parts of the country.
The remade version of Man on Fire is obviously a piece of fiction, but it does show Mexico City in fairly good detail and typical kidnapping scenarios.
Oh, and in Mexico City, you know that old saying about making no more land? That means they can’t make gated communities. Lots of people move out as a result as soon as they have the money to do so. Even though I’m stuck in a stupid apartment (with lots and lots of security), every new development in the area is gated.
On one episode of Anthony Bourdain’s newest series on the Travel Channel, he was doing a show in one of South America’s countries (I forget which) where wealthy people don’t drive any more–they fly by helicopters. It seems that they rely on ex-military helicopter pilots because they can’t find honest drivers any more. I guess kidnapping for ransom there is a big business.
When I lived in Mexico with a squarely upper-middle-class host family, the house itself was gated.
Some of my American coworkers who live in the other building have Carlos Slim as a neighbor (neighboring building, not apartment). They sometimes complain about his helicopter waking them up at night.
This is common. As an American, lots of Mexican neighborhoods look crappy to me on the surface, because they look like houses have been built to occupy every square inch of the property that they’re on. What you’re usually seeing from the outside, though, is the wall. Inside is the garage and the lawn and the patio and the house. Some cheaper, more modern places vary this theme by not having a front wall, but just a full-width gate to keep passers-by from getting into your parking space or front door.
I have personal experience with kidnapping here as my father in law was kidnapped 21 years ago. A ransom was paid and he was released unharmed but neverthrless it leaves deep emotional scars on the victim and loved ones. So you can see it is not a recent development. I also personally know more victims than I wish I did, including one young boy who was murdered by the assholes.
The modus operandi of these gangs is not grabbing people from their homes but elsewhere. Most of these gangs are pretty sophisticated and carefully plan the operation. They have watched the victim long enough to discern some kind of routine and know where in a person’s daily life they are vulnerable. So although I am not aware of how this problem has been dealt with in Brazil, I doubt that living within a gated community would do much good here. Unless you never leave the house.
You know, reading stuff like this (and watching zombie movies, for some reason) really makes me want to build a panic room…
God, I’m so sorry to hear that. Are you willing to discuss any of the details, or is it still too painful?
How does this guy have absolutely zero public profile in the U.S.? Compare to Bill Gates’ fame and recognizability.
He did buy CompUSA about a year before it entered bankruptcy!
It was a long time ago. My FIL has since passed on. The fright and the worry have faded with time but in the back of our minds we still fear having it happen again. A small touch of paranoia can help keep you on your toes though.
That was my experience when I lived in Salvador, Brazil also.