Juan Manuel De la Cruz

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¿What does this information mean for Latin American countries?

The talk is about how income inequality has profound effects on society and even the health of its members, specifically large diference means negative results, the Latin American Region has long been characterized for suffreing from these large gaps, which continue to grow; ¿is the gap the cause for the surge in violence and drugdealing in our region? ¿Do factors like the sensitiveness of feeling like "the bottom half" contribute to the idolization of "the narco" as a role model?

  • Nov 22 2011: Juan Manuel
    I have been thinking over your post and question. I lived in Mexico for twenty years. I travelled extensively through Central America.

    What I think is going on is a sort of parallel to the flight of illegals to the US. There is an idolization of "the rich gringo" that is there behind both of them. Both are fueled by and used by North Americans. The problem becomes very complex however. Even in Mexico, as people in the deepest rural areas were able to finally have television, there was I think a renewed desire to go to Mexico City and other large cities to live that life they saw in telenovelas. Just think of how many times the character, el pobre campesino, male or female, plays a role in these.

    Both the idea of being a narco and of living in the US are the real fuel. Given the opportunity to participate and have that kind of money and prosperity causes many to abandon values and family in an attempt to "provide for them." But it is more the idea of the wealth that runs the show. The betrayal of identity in order to possibly gain wealth is horrid.

    Obviously the drug kingpins have leveraged of system of corruption in order to feed their own greed. But sometimes I have seen that same greed in the lives of very marginalized people. It is not the desire to "pull oneself up" that is necessarily bad, though I think that particular dream is empty, but the idea that I can get not just what I need, but all of the other things I want by either associating with a gang or trying to get to Texas.

    The easy answer is well let's do something about the poverty. Yes, let's, but face it neither governments or NGO's really have the where with all to do that. It has to be at a more basic fundamental level. I wish I had any easy answer to that problem. If we actually could provide a deeper quality of life for people, then maybe there would be a chance. I would love to continue to dialogue with you about this. You have mentioned a huge problem.
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    Nov 23 2011: I think there is a lot of value in what you said, I live in Guatemala and it is astonishing to me how over the years, the image of the druglord has become a paradigme of properity (for some people and equivalent of class and elegance). I agree in the fact that a lack of fundamental values is the main culprit, I have talked to very empoverished people that openly say entering the drug business is their life goal, however when asked about fullfilment and purpose in this way of life (regardless of their ilicit nature), they could not tell you a single valid reason as to why participate in the drug business.

    Here in Guatemala there are campaigns and discussions about "the value of values" but the message does not seem to come across to anyone, comments like "nobody observes ethics anymore", "you're a sucker for thinking that" are common; the only time I've ever seen the talk of values and actual ethical consideration come into play is when a member of the community is caught doing something illegal, when that happens everyone is suddenly extremely ethical and reproachful of the "delincuent".

    Keeping that in mind ¿Does the solution to the loss of values in a society come from shaming the members of a social group into observing them? ¿Is this how values came to be in the first place, the shame of being viewed by society as a criminal?

    Its a horrible concept to entertain but having seen the effect, or lack thereof, that social awareness campaigns against corruption and drugdealing have on people I feel it may come to be a solution, not the best but a solution none the less.

    In short, I think you've come up with a great point, it is a titanic sized problem and I see the solution having to do with basic human knowledge and values.
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    Nov 21 2011: I believe that income inequality in Latin America is the cause for many problems, the most important one at the moment is the one sorrounding the proliferation of illegal drug dealing industries throughout our region; it is because of the income gap that illicit activities are viewed as an acceptable method of obtaining wealth, like it says in the talk, the shame of being considered a member of the bottom half by far outweighs the dangers and grievances that come with being involved with drug dealing and gangs; since there is little social mobility in this region there is very little chance of obtaining better standarts of living through a career in the legal sector; as a result many young people are attracted (sometimes even forced socially and physically) to enter the illegal sector viewing it as their only option.
    • Nov 28 2011: Juan Manuel
      There is also the social structure of "cuates" (the word used in Mexico for the close groups of friends) that also plays an important part. I believe it is a structure that provides a whole framework of understanding especially male culture. The group of friends is the support system in all sorts of levels. I think many of the pandillas are just that sort of group.

      I think income inequity is one part of the larger problem of quality of life. So many people do not share the basic needs in their lives.