We pray for Mexican sovereign residence…


The recent massacre of Mexican/American dual nationals of an off-shoot Mormon community, committed on the highway system in northern Mexico, surged through global media channels – the fact that those killed were largely women and children burnished the press mantra that “if it bleeds, it leads”.

Official commentary from Mexico points to a heinous mistaken identity situation, where the innocent travelers were confused with rival drug cartel combatants and attacked. Other reports point to an intentional cartel move to intimidate the Mormon community, who had resisted various extortion efforts. The Mormon community had also apparently undertaken its own initiative to ensure local security, the remit that generally rolls up to the sovereign authority. In any event the pervasive and controlling drug cartels mean that in reality Mexico’s sovereign writ does not seem to extend as fully as it should. That’s bad news for Mexican citizens and really for anyone else finding themselves there.

To illustrate, the chart below shows IBRD World Governance Indicators (WGI) for Mexico graphed against comparable average WGI measures for countries where political risk claims were triggered (“default”), and those where such claims were not (“non-default”). That information was drawn from Zurich Insurance.

Indeed, one can also say Mexico is in many ways a rising OECD nation, and an especially prominent trading partner with the United States. These are facts. But that said, social and political institutions are comparably threadbare, and underlie crimes like the one just witnessed.

So, sadly, as Gertrude Stein once said about her hometown that “There is no there, there.”, one can perhaps say that about Mexico’s sovereign writ – “there is no true sovereign residence or authority, there.” This will hopefully change.

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