The El Paso Times reported on Wednesday that Mikhail Gorbachev, the man who oversaw the dissolution of the Soviet Union, will be visiting Ciudad Juárez this upcoming October. You might be wondering: Why on earth is Gorbachev headed to the most dangerous city in North America, the undisputed Murder Capital of the World? In the midst of a full-fledged drug war, Juarez recently made the non-Gorbachev-related news when it topped 3,000 homicides for the year 2010. Another headline published by the El Paso Times from last week reads, “Male’s torso discovered in downtown Juárez.” Surely Gorbachev, even in his old age, doesn’t want to be decapitated, so what could possibly make him risk the perilous journey? The answer is a self-described “social movement” called Juárez Competitiva.
Well, that begs the question: What the hell is “Juárez Competitiva”??? That’s a really good question. Unfortunately, answers seem hard to come by. Even the section ¿Que es? on the website doesn’t offer many clues, and the English-language FAQ, so it seems, speaks in riddles. Let’s read some excerpts:
Q: What is Juarez Competitiva?
A: Juarez Competitiva is a social movement that will culminate in a two-week event to show the world that Juarez is much more than negative headlines or reports. Juarez is about growth, about talent, about determination and will. It’s about many people, from many walks of life coming together to reclaim their city.
Q: I’ve heard that Juarez Competitiva is all about a big concert with U2, Paul McCartney, Shakira, etc. Is this correct?
A: Juarez Competitiva is a social movement that will culminate in a two-week event to show the world that Juarez is much more than negative headlines in the newspapers. Juarez is about growth, about talent, about determination and will. It’s about many people, from many walks of life coming together to reclaim its city. The event will close with a major concert. The organizing team has been in contact with top names in the entertainment world; confirmations will be announced as they occur.
Q: Shouldn’t Juarez be working on stopping the violence in their streets instead of doing big concert events?
A: Juarez Competitiva is a social movement that will culminate in a two-week event to show the world that Juarez is much more than negative headlines or reports. Juarez is about growth, about talent, about determination and will. This effort tells the world we are determined that peace and a great quality life return to our city.
What the hell is going on here?!?! What is it? Perhaps some of the other questions can shed a little more light on the matter:
Q: Who is involved in Juarez Competitiva?
A: There are thousands of people involved in making Juarez Competitiva happen. The idea of this social movement emerged from the private industry and quickly grew into a city-wide movement.
Q: How is Juarez Competitiva funded?
A: Funding for Juarez Competitiva comes from private and government sectors.
Q: What will be featured during the events?
A: The main objectives of Juarez Competitiva are to showcase what Juarez produces, its people and its world-class manufacturing.
Aha! Now it all makes sense! “Its world-class manufacturing.” That is to say, the infamous maquiladoras of the Rio Grande’s southern bank, which take advantage of cheap Mexican labor and free trade agreements in order to assemble manufactured goods for “re-export” to the U.S. The organizers insist on speaking in a secret code, but fortunately their words – and motives – are easy to decipher. The Mexican government and bunch of local millionaires are getting together to throw a lavish business summit in order to tout Juarez’s industrial capacity, and then they’re going to tack on a big concert in order to make it seem like it’s not a business summit. Of course, what else could “Juarez Competitiva” be? So it seems, Paul McCartney is doing his part to get Juarez “back to work,” or, more precisely, to get its languishing sweatshops rolling again. Open street warfare is bad for business, but a former Beatle is great for business!
So, in spite of the nebulous website, it actually all makes sense. What is advertised as a spontaneous social movement to protest Juarez’s violence is, in fact, an orchestrated ploy by businessmen, in alliance with the state of Chihuahua, to get the city’s cheap exploitable labor back to work in the maquiladoras. And if the organizers are able to get Bono and Shakira to sing the praises free trade along the U.S.-Mexican border, then all the better. Gorbachev is the perfect keynote speaker, because, after all, why wouldn’t Gorbachev support NAFTA? And with Mexican tycoon and current World’s-Richest-Man Carlos Slim on board, it only stands to reason that they’re trying to get former-World’s-Richest-Man Bill Gates to make an appearance. It’s the perfect alliance of the State, business, entertainment, and the ruins of East European socialism, all banded together to bring the American consumer quicker access to cheaply-produced manufactured goods.
The only thing standing in the way of free trade, as we know, is a nasty drug war, but since nothing can be done about it, the factory owners of Juarez figured that they’d just get everyone to bury their heads in the sand. “Multiple decapitations every week?!? What are you talking about??? Look, Bono’s here!! With Gorbachev! Check out our world-class manufacturing.” Surely the Federales can keep order for two short weeks! And once all the dignitaries go home, then the streets can turn to rivers of blood once again, but who cares by that point? Now the Rio Grande has turned into a river of money!
Nice social movement you have there! Brought to you by the Captains of Industry. (And Gorbachev… and U2…)