Pedrito, What Do You Want to Be When You Grow Up? A Narco.

Everyone knows that the war on drugs in Mexico has intensified over the last couple of years. What Mexican school teachers did not anticipate was the increase in popularity of “Narco” as a career choice among their students.

At a recent carne asada, the topic of young student’s career aspirations came up. An aunt of mine, who recently retired after teaching 30+ years in the Mexican public school system, discussed her struggle with disrespectful students who lost interest in their education because their highly coveted Narco lifestyle does not require it. How do kids between the ages of 5 and 13 get exposed to this idea? Who is to blame? Parents. That’s right, not the news or media, but parents. It’s time to take responsibility and ownership of what information is being fed to kids these days.

When I asked my little 2 year old cousin if he preferred a Bible or a gun, there was no hesitation and he quickly shouted “pistola!” (translation: gun). Where did he get this idea? Pistola is a three syllable word and is much harder to pronounce than Biblia so it can’t be that. Do people around him walk around with guns all day? Well, maybe in some ranchos, but for the most part, eh no! I know what you’re thinking, most kids his age want weapons instead of books. Well, as the new movie “The Book of Eli” will attest, The Bible is a weapon. So shouldn’t my little cousin’s parents be giving him Bibles and books for Christmas? I think so.

Think about it. Why do kids want guns? To defend themselves. To deter and/or hurt that which is making them feel attacked. What is a Mexican child’s biggest fear? El Chupacabras, El Cucui and somewhere in between there is La Llorona. A gun is not gonna do anything to them. A traditional Mexican will persinar (make the sign of the cross from the forehead down to the chest and across the shoulders in order to bless oneself) before facing a villain, dueling an opponent, or plain and simply when asking for protection and blessings from up above. Who primarily does this? Bible exposed adults. So why are they not teaching this to their kids from a very young age? They’re not seeing the connection between a child’s desire for guns and their vulnerability to become Narcos. Yes it’s a stretch, but work with me…

I know anti-Christians and atheists are probably thinking I’m crazy. This post is not about promoting a religion or imposing religious views. Let’s look at the big picture here because many of you are concerned about your jobs and immigration policy. My American peeps, would you rather have Bible loving Christian immigrants crossing your border or gun loving maniacs? Exactly. The US would never impose a “War on Bibles” on Mexico and Colombia. Well, at least not yet. Instead of spending millions of dollars trying to confiscate guns and imprisoning Narcos, the US government could invest that in printing and giving away Bibles (just don’t let kids know they’re free or else they won’t appreciate their Christmas present as much). At the end of the day, these Narcos are gonna get one in prison anyways so why not get it to them before they become convicted criminals. It would only take about 5 percent of what the US government is spending on the war on drugs to accomplish this goal. The rest of the money can actually go into creating jobs and reducing the US budget deficit. ‘Nuff said.

6 thoughts on “Pedrito, What Do You Want to Be When You Grow Up? A Narco.

  1. Wow. I’m not sure I buy that kids are growing up to be “Narcos” because they haven’t been exposed to the Bible. Around 90% of Mexicans self-identify as “Catholic”, and I would bet that a lot of people involved in the drug trade in Mexico and around the world have been exposed to “Christianity” and the Bible. People don’t get involved in the drug trade because they are ‘bad people’ or ‘immoral’ or non-Christian, they do it because local economies in Mexico are being destroyed by unfair trade policies and bad governance. People do it out of desperation, because its one of their only options for making good money, other than becoming a politician or a pop star. The same thing happens in the U.S. – kids get involved in gang activity because they are part of marginalized groups in this country and have much more limited access to educational and employment opportunities than the middle-class white population does.

    Calling Mexican immigrants “gun loving maniacs” is incredibly offensive and just not true. Plenty of U.S. citizens own guns for whatever reason, and yet we defend it as completely rational and part of their 2nd amendment rights. I also think that a lot of children in the U.S. would rather play with a toy gun than a bible, but that doesn’t mean they are going to become violent people or drug traffickers- and the same goes for Mexican children. The drug trafficking industry has very little to do with how parents are raising their children, and a lot to do with the state of international foreign policy and trade regulations.

    1. Hello Lissa, thanks for commenting. I always appreciate new comments. However, I don’t think you caught my sarcasm and my intentional exaggeration.

      Narcos and the whole war on drugs is a complex issue and situation. Though the problems affect the US and Mexico, there are significant differences on both sides of the border that make this whole situation even harder to resolve. For example, police officers in the US are not getting killed at the rate they are here in Mexico. Yet a good portion of those guns used by Narcos come from the US. Does that mean the US is to blame? It all depends on how you look at it. On a serious note, I agree with what you say. However, I like to play the devil’s advocate to get people to think, including myself 🙂

      I’m a Mexican born citizen living in Mexico and I was once an immigrant in the US as well. Does that make me a “gun loving maniac”? Of course not. I’ve never even touched a gun…OK maybe once, but it was at a history museum. I don’t think the economic situation in Mexico justifies a man (or woman) in economic desperation to take the life of another human being. Narcos leverage themselves on that reality in an effort to hold their ground and power on the basis of fear. You mention “drug trade”, I stated Narco. Though they are related, they are different concepts. One is a lifestyle, the other is a profession/job. I’m not gonna get into the details of that because it will be a never-ending debate. You used the example of gangs in the US, OK, lets use it. Just because you dress like a “gangster” doesn’t make you a gangster. I was part of that hip-hop, Chicano, baggy clothes culture but was never part of a gang. I had friends who were in gangs but that’s where it ends. Was I part of a marginalized group, limited in my access to education and employment opportunities compared to my white middle-class counterparts? Absolutely. Yet I CHOSE to live my life responsibly and to make the best of the opportunities I did have without having to join a gang. I think society as a whole has gotten to the point where we ingrain in the minds of all kids the idea that “it is not surprising to see someone who comes from that kind of background to end up in gangs”. That makes it easier to self-victimize and to subconsciously accept lower standards and poorer choices. Where do you think the phrase, “Well, I was told I would never graduate, get a good job, and that I would end up in a gang” comes from? We gotta stop telling kids and students what they can’t do and help them focus on what they can do. That starts from an early age. And this idea absolutely applies to the students I speak about in my post. Regardless of what the cliché excuse may be to justify a Narco lifestyle, there is always a second option. It may not be lucrative, but will be one that does not compromise the values and moral character of a good Mexican citizen.

      The drug trafficking industry actually does have a lot to do with parents and what they teach their kids. We can’t always blame policies and governments. We may not be able to change the cause of a policy or government, but we can sure influence our reaction and actions that result from those policies or governments. Though I do not have a solution to this whole Narco and drug war situation, I can draw from my own personal experience and deliberate choices I made in life. Maybe it’s a coincidence, but that includes getting a Bible at some point in my adolescence 🙂

  2. Hi again. Ok, maybe I didn’t catch your sarcasm…but you do think that giving Bibles to people in Mexico will somehow be a better solution to fighting the ‘war on drugs’ Mexico?

    Any business (whether legal or illegal) is influenced by supply and demand. The U.S. demands drugs and, in the case of many of these drugs, Latin America supplies them. The fact that these drugs are illegal and that the U.S. is beefing up security on the border w/ Mexico makes this an even MORE financially profitable business for the supplying industry.

    I think you’re right to emphasize personal agency and autonomy- of course people always have options, and their personal ideology is something that will influence the decisions they make. But I think by not addressing policy and government you ignore the root of the problem and try to address its symptoms rather than its causes. Yes, it would be nice if everyone had the ‘moral’ integrity to not become a narcotrafficker, but when there is a huge demand for drugs and a lot of money to be made, someone is going to end up taking up that profession. To me, telling someone to simply choose not to get involved in narcotrafficking because they always have other options is about as effective as telling someone not to emigrate to the United States to work, because they probably had other options. Obviously there is something more systemic driving them to make these choices, it is not just about personal morals or ethics. I see narcotrafficking and the violence it entails as one of many symptoms of systemic and institutional inequality between the U.S. and Latin America. Yes, there are things we can do to address the immediate pain of this symptom, but ultimately it will not go away unless the root cause is identified and destroyed.

    P.S. I’ve read the Bible, gone to church, and been taught what’s ‘right’ and ‘wrong’ by my family, but I still do plenty of things that the Bible says I shouldn’t. Religion can be a dangerous tool in justifying ‘immoral’ action as well. Just because you’ve read the Bible doesn’t mean you can’t be a drug trafficker too! Take La Familia Michoacana, an evangelical Christian drug cartel that purports to be protecting the local community from federal military and police forces. Members of the cartel abstain from drug use, study the Bible (ok, so maybe they wrote their own version of it), pay their employees more than 10 times minimum wage, and fund community development projects. =)

    1. Hello Lissa. Thanks for following up on this interesting discussion. In all honesty, what I proposed in my post is not what I really believe. It’s like giving a crack addict money and thinking he’s gonna suddenly fix his life. You have to show him how to spend the money (on other things), how to administrate it, and provide the resources needed to prevent a relapse into drug addiction.

      I do think the “war on drugs” is actually working more than it did before. Why? Because our president (Calderon) is actually taking the steps to enforce the law against drug cartels. Do I think he’s gonna completely eradicate the drug lords? Hell no. Even if marijuana were legalized, it would make the business of other drugs more lucrative and dangerous. Narcos would shift their business to the next “hot” drug and we will have a ridiculous crime scene throughout the Americas! You shifted this conversation to policies, which I agree to be the root of the problem, but I actually thought it was interesting how kids are open about their comfort of aspiring to be Narcos. A business is a business as a business is a business. Regardless of the product or service involved in the exchange for money. As long as people can make money from it, people are gonna keep that business alive.

      I’m not a politician nor a policy maker. But I can guarantee you that my kids would never aspire to be a Narco. My family has been homeless, in debt, and unemployed all at the same time at different points during my childhood. Did I ever consider becoming a criminal or getting involved in illicit businesses while facing the great need for money? Hell no! Why? It would have been a huge disappointment to my parents, my self, and everything I stood for (aside from getting a good ass beating from my parents 😉 ). I place a lot of weight on parental influence 🙂 But to be clear, parent involvement and education is where it begins.

      As far as policies, well, you’re gonna have to wait for a future post I’ve started but haven’t published yet. I look forward to your future comments!

      PS. The whole Familia Michoacana thing does not surprise me. They throw grenades at their own people during Independence day celebrations! I love Mexico but it scares me to go to Michoacan and they’re my neighbors!

  3. Payazaro, it’s always good to read your blog…keeps me thinking. hoping to get to have these conversations in person with you soon! cuidate–

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