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Little Rock We had watched a couple of the Netflix “Narcos” shows that are a fictionalized take on some surreal or semi-real events involving Pablo Escobar, the Medellin, Columbia drug czar. Recently, we have done a deeper dive and are now halfway through the second year. It seemed so unreal and of a different time that we could pretend it was more entertainment than reality show. Escobar was a case study, if anyone was watching, of someone with resources who believes he is above the law even as embraces being a bandito. He had a hardcore base among the poor in the barrios of Medellin that was willing to overlook crazy violence and hold him up as a Robin Hood. He believed he could negotiate equally with the President of Columbia with an army at his command and could use his fighters, violence, and money to secure his own separate peace in his own narcissistic piece of the world.
Now, we’ll have to watch the rest of the episodes for tips in understanding our world in the wake of the latest news from Mexico. As reported by the New York Times:
The violence began shortly after 3:30 p.m. in the city of Culiacán, the capital of Sinaloa State, when a patrol of 30 soldiers came under attack by individuals in a home in the neighborhood of Tres Ríos, according to government officials. After taking control of the home, the security forces encountered and detained four men — among them [Ovidio] Guzmán López, a leader in the Sinaloa cartel [son of El Chapo, Joaquin Guzman Loera, now imprisoned in the USA]. Cartel gunmen then surrounded the home and engaged the armed forces, the officials said. …Later, the cartel deployed fighters throughout the neighborhood and began burning vehicles and blockading streets throughout the city. Gunfire continued into [the] night, as soldiers and cartel fighters battled in the streets. In its brief statement, the government said it had opted to suspend its operation, but did not elaborate on what exactly that meant. Later, it became clear through local media that the government forces had indeed released Mr. Guzmán López back into the custody of the cartel.
We hadn’t realized that the “Narcos” was a watered-down version of the drug wars or that this level of impunity was as narcotic as they drugs being dealt.
Of course, we see the same level of impunity from President Trump these days, along with his entitled feeling of being immune to any legal or institutional norms. Threaten to impeach him for his solicitation of yet another foreign country, Ukraine, to further his personal politics, and he doubles down and asks China to investigate and help him. Accuse him of personal self-dealing, and he selects his Trump Doral hotel resort in Florida as the location for the 2020 G-7 meeting of world leaders that he gets to host next year. Tell him there is legal protection for whistle blowers, and he announces in every forum that he’s “looking for” this guy. Accuse him of violating the “emoluments” section of the Constitution on receiving benefits for his service, and he spends 308 days or one-third of his time in office to date staying at one of personal properties and conducts numerous meetings in his hotel in Washington, D.C. Accuse him of selling out the Kurds on a whim to help his dictator buddies, and after years of partnership he says the Kurds “are no angels” while standing tall with some of the world’s worst devils.
Escobar, the Guzmans, and the Trumps may use slightly different means, but their view of the ends is the same: whatever is best for them, the devil take the hindmost, laws don’t matter, governments come and go, it’s all about them. Immune to any other opinions, standards, or norms, it’s their way or the highway with absolute impunity. Catch me if you can.