By Raoul Lowery Contreras
Impunity is defined as “exemption from punishment or freedom from the injurious consequences of an action…”
In Mexico, impunity describes political and criminal peccadillos at all levels of government, local, state and national.
In the U.S. the word is rarely used. Corruption certainly exists in the local, state and federal governments, but culprits are frequently caught and convicted.
But impunity is a word we can now apply to the White House and its appointed minions. It is as disgusting in the United States as it is in Mexico.
Forty-three students disappeared in Mexico when they commandeered a school bus in 2014 to travel to the city of Iguala to protest state government. They have never been found. No one has been convicted of the disappearance, of kidnapping, of murder, of anything. Some suspects were detained, but a state judge released them from jail before they were tried.
The almost year-old government of Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador has done little to solve the mysterious disappearance of those 43 students. Interpol or the FBI could find out what happened and who was involved, but “AMLO” hasn’t asked for help.
Armed bandits are brazenly robbing drivers on busy Mexico highways. Thieves are tapping petroleum and gasoline pipelines owned by the government’s Pemex with impunity. Roving soldiers “protecting” the pipelines are never present when criminals tap them for hours. Towns run out of gasoline. Tanker trucks are hijacked. The Army and nascent National Guard are helpless, or worthless, while crime happens all around them.
Many areas of Mexico are so crime-ridden that the State Department issues warnings to American travelers to stay away.
That is the same State Department that itself is manifesting a new American impunity patterned after the traditional criminal political impunity of our next-door neighbor.
Through Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, officials have been ordered to ignore requests from Congress for documents and testimony about President Trump’s call to the Ukraine requesting a probe of former Vice President Joe Biden’s son.
If not a criminal act, this order by Pompeo should at least land him an official contempt of Congress ruling.
No criminal activity by Biden’s son has been revealed by any investigation. But Trump did ask the Ukraine’s leader for an investigation, and then publicly called for it in an effort to discredit his likely Democratic challenger.
Ah, the impunity.
I’m familiar with political and legal impunity. I was not quite three years old when I was expelled from Mexico by a corrupt government led by general turned President Manuel Avila Camacho. His 1940 opponent, the popular highest-ranking Mexican Army general in Mexican history — Juan Andreu Almazan — was supported by my great-grandmother. For that “crime,” the entire family was expelled from Mexico when my federal congressman father, a rising political star, died in a car accident.
Within 48 hours of his death the family was bundled onto a train and taken 1,200 miles to the U.S. border at El Paso. Welcome to the United States, a blessed country governed by the rule of law.
Now our President is acting like President Manuel Avila Camacho of Mexico or his predecessor Lazaro Cardenas. His secret police arrested former President Plutarco Elias Calles and his number two, Luis Napoleon Morones, in the middle of the night without charges. They were flown to exile at the San Diego airport, still in their pajamas and slippers. While they were being dumped in the United States, Cardenas declared gambling to be illegal and for anyone earning money off it to be guilty of a crime.
Morality was not behind Cardenas’ anti-gambling decree. It happened that Calles and Morones owned the ten-year-old horse racing track and adjoining large casino in Tijuana and Cardenas simply wanted to cut off the cash Calles and Morones recieved.
That was impunity, Mexican style.
Now we have American impunity in the form President Donald J. Trump. In defying Congress’ demands for documents and testimony by subpoenaed government officers, Trump is defying the people of the United States and the rule of law.
Calling the whistleblowers spies and traitors, and refusing cooperation with Congress, Trump violates political and legal decorum demanded by the Constitution.
Is it time for impeachment? Yes. We cannot let America copy the worst of Mexican politics.
Raoul Lowery Contreras is a political consultant and author of the new book White Anglo-Saxon Protestants (WASPS) & Mexicans. His work has appeared in the New American News Service of the New York Times Syndicate.
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