Monday, January 23, 2006

Swept by vigilante killings in crime backlash

I caught a bit of flack for claiming in this post that conditions could get as bad as I claimed they could, so here:

Guatemala swept by vigilante killings in crime backlash:
'What is happening is that there is a lot of crime and nobody has confidence in the government's ability to provide security,' said the Casa Alianza's Claudia Rivera. 'Crime is out of control and the state cannot stop it. So people in neighborhoods get together to do it themselves.'
ABC has a variant of the story here. Reuters here.

Judging from conversations with Guatemalans in the capital and the poverty-stricken highlands, extra-judicial killings are widely seen as both necessary and positive.
"When those who are killed are 'mareros' (gang members), people are pleased," said Gerardo Petzey, a 20-year-old student in the highland town of Santiago Atitlan. "Good riddance to bad people," said Antonia Flores, 26, a receptionist in the capital's upscale 10th district.
"Eliminate rabies by killing the dogs that carry the disease," said leaflets left on bodies found shot through the head near the city of
(I put what I think is a fascinating story of extra-judicial killing in the fifth paragraph of an earlier post.)

The vigilantism story doesn't even touch on the subject of lynchings, which in Guatemala do not involve white racists hanging black victims in acts of bigotry. Rather, in Guatemala and elsewhere, lynchings tend to be mob reactions to criminality in the face of law enforcement agency and court system uselessness. The lynching itself frequently involves beatings and gasoline. If you saw the film Cronicas (excellent flick by the way) you got a sense of this type of lynching.

Hand-written notes said, "That's for robbery" and, "This is for breaking into my house."
Various pressures will combine in other, presently prosperous countries to yield similar levels of criminality and violent counter-criminality unless means are found to deal death to extreme criminals in a quick, no-nonsense way.

That is to say, unfortunately, that we will probably have similar levels of criminality and violent counter-criminality in our country. A big part of the reason is that the myth of inherent human dignity renders us impotent in the face of what needs to be done. Oh, well...

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