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technology and violence in Mexico

2009 March 23
by Ruth Goodlaxson

This morning on NPR’s BBC News Hour, they were discussing the drug violence in Mexico, which has recently spilled over the US/Mexico border. (You can find a similar report from the BBC here.) I only caught the tail end of it, when the reporter mentioned that the violence erupted over control of trade routes into the US to feed the US market for drugs. They also played the sound of heavy artillery fire occurring in Juarez, pointing out that it was much easier to obtain heavy weapons in the United States than Mexico, and that authorities thought the weapons were likely being smuggled into Mexico from the States.

We’ve all seen the bumper sticker, “Guns don’t kill people. People kill people,” and “Guns don’t kill people. Bullets kill people.” But really, how much responsibility goes to the provider of technology which is what allows such violence to occur? We’ve talked before about how people can use technology, or people can be at the mercy of technology. Providing a gun is not the same as instructing someone to kill, but it also gives the capacity to kill en masse. I guess a similar question would be over how responsible the inventors of the atom bomb are for the destruction of Nagasaki and Hiroshima. I’m not sure, but I was unnerved that technology from our country is part of why so many thousands have died in Juarez.

3 Responses
  1. March 23, 2009

    very complex problem here

  2. Michelle Bennett permalink
    March 25, 2009

    Regarding Juarez, there’s also a very particular crime trend with a definitely gendered focus that I didn’t begin to associate with the subject matter of this class until after I read your post. There have been hundreds of unsolved murders in the past few years of women who work in factories near Juarez. They’re murdered, and then thrown into the Juarez river, which runs between Texas and Mexico. The reason these murders have gone unsolved for so long is because neither country is willing to accept responsibility for its investigation, because the only evidence of the crimes is in the river that divides the two regions. This speaks to the matter of responsibility you mention, though perhaps not totally related to your point.

    I learned about these crimes in a spanish class, and my professor was trying to make the point that this is an example of the body, or more specifically, the female body, martyred in the throes of an insufficient negotiation of frontiers. But I think we could add another layer of understanding onto these crimes, particularly in view of the way The Handmaid’s Tale and Metropolis frame the female body as an instrument that is in service of a larger cause. These female factory workers are treated as disposable items: the factories aren’t taking sufficient action to protect the women that work for them, they know that these women are easily replaced because of the constant need for employment.

  3. Ruth Goodlaxson permalink
    March 26, 2009

    It sounds like Juarez is suffering from a lot of violence – I hope things continue to improve there. I see your point about the women’s deaths being reminiscent of both The Handmaid’s Tale and Metropolis. It especially reminds me of the scene where the machine explodes. I guess it’s important to remember that these texts aren’t necessarily that far from reality.

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