Magazine article The Hispanic Outlook in Higher Education

The Mexican Anti-Hero (or Hero) El Chapo

Magazine article The Hispanic Outlook in Higher Education

The Mexican Anti-Hero (or Hero) El Chapo

Article excerpt

Everyone loves a good story where good triumphs over evil and the hero lashes the bad guy into oblivion as the whole world cheers. In Mexico, people also love a story where the bad guy sticks it to the federales with a sensational jail breakout.

Many times the bad guy is the hero and the government agents are looked at as something akin to the gang that couldn't shot straight which includes dubious integrity.

It does seem that way with the escape in July of Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzman, the world's numero uno drug lord from his maximum security prison near Mexico City, "maximum" in this case being in the eyes of the beholder.

Some federales might want to say pre-El Chapo not even Houdini could escape from their maximum security prisons but El Chapo has done it twice, some claim with his keeper's help.

The first was a mundane escape in 2001 when he was wheeled out in a laundry cart by corrupt guards and later went on to resume his mega-millions drug smuggling empire that even the Colombian cartels would envy.

This time his escape was even more extraordinary befitting a legitimate tunnel construction project. It left everyone, particularly prison authorities, dumbfounded by El Chapo's audacious escape plan and disciplined expert work while they feigned "who would have known?"

It was an engineering feat performed with rudimentary tools that dug a tunnel over a mile long leading to a safe house exit. But who was the crew and how did it muzzle the sound of construction activity and get all that dirt out without attracting attention and then obscure the disposal of the extracted debris?

The popular theory, as it always is in Mexico, is that public officials, namely penal authorities and compromised government agents, were complicit in this extraordinary jail escape.

Maybe it was not such an extraordinary escape since this is about Mexico and maybe accusations of the federales' role in this nefarious act is malicious, the latter having little credibility.

Mexican jails aren't exactly country clubs. Growing up near the Texas-Mexican border and frequenting the Mexican border towns, I know them to be extraordinarily bad and corrupt and, as El Chapo has shown in his criminal career, quite malleable to financial persuasions.

Perish the thought you'd find yourself in one which happily I never have, but I have been subjected to the "mordidas" (bribes) to the local police for an inconsequential traffic infraction. …

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