Friday, May 8, 2015

Today's Mexico City Headlines: Stigmata

The president says Mexico is stigmatized. That’s front-page news for all five dailies, two of which — EL Universal with “The nation is suffering from a security stigma: Peña Nieto” and Milenio with “Peña: Mexico stigmatized by violence” — lead with the story.
    He was speaking at the Latin American version of the World Economic Forum, which Mexico is hosting on the Riviera Maya. His comments on the security question were mostly run-of-the-mill — i.e. it’s a serious problem. . . things have improved . . . we’re making progress . . . but there’s still a long way to go . . . that sort of thing.
    But it was the word “stigmatized” that caught the media’s attention, as it was meant to do. “Unfortunately,” he said, "Mexico for some years perhaps, has come to be very stigmatized by the subject of insecurity.”
    Stigma, stigmata, stigmatized . . . these are words that resonate in a predominately Catholic country, with their origins in the wounds of Christ crucified. The implication, in decidedly non-religious language, is that Mexico is getting a bum rap from the world.
    And it is, in the sense that  narco-induced crime is something that is happening to Mexico, not something that Mexico is. But once again, Peña Nieto seems to be trying to downplay the reality of the situation.
     Blame for the stigma, the president implied, lies not with what’s going on in Mexico but with the United States for its profligate drug use (but apparently not for its criminalization of that drug use) and the media for overemphasizing the problem.
    Apparently, next time drug gangs shoot down an army helicopter with a rocket-launcher, or massacre 43 students and burn their bodies, the story should be buried in the back pages.
    El Universal, in an editorial on the speech, has a better solution: “To stop having Mexico talked about as synonymous with violence . . . crime needs to stop being news.” In other words, if you don’t want the media to report so much crime and violence, reduce the rate of crime and violence.

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