The master of the house unequivocally, maybe unbearably, threatened his wife: bring me a little girl as a “gift” or I will rape our daughters. The woman responded by bringing him a little girl. Perhaps the dilemma was existential, but the woman complied, condemning as she did an innocent child. We all know what followed: the little girl was called Fatima.
The true pandemic that has all of Mexico awestruck is not the coronavirus but impunity, and in no matter is this greater than in that which afflicts girls, boys and women. Rampant impunity has made possible not only for violence to misappropriate the life of Mexican society but, worse yet, it does not seem to surprise anyone anymore.
In which country is violence tolerated like the one that oppresses Mexican society without anything happening? In what country is it possible for what is intolerable to become an everyday happening without anyone saying, or being able to say, anything? In what country does the government feel aggrieved because the society protests the femicides and the infanticides, in other words, the impunity? What country discredits whosoever calls attention to crimes that should not exist? In what country does the governing party and its acolytes accuse the victims of the impunity? What country denies a right so very elemental, that of indignation? That can only happen in a country that has lost all bearings of civility and civilization.
The information revolution, what distinguishes the 19th century, has transformed all public activity, but especially the relations between the government and the society, because it has conferred upon them novel instruments never before available. The ubiquity of information forces everyone -citizens and governments- to act distinctly: the society is informed, it communicates and it acts, all this without governmental mediation, the latter the stamp of the 20th century. Government possesses the same capacity, but particularly the opportunity, to transmit almost personalized messages, and it now confronts the challenge of not only communicating, but above all of convincing. The once monopoly of information alters the relations among all the actors of a society, but the Mexican government refuses to adapt to the new reality.
In this 21st century, crises are key moments that imply transformation or bust. Transformation when those that govern and the society come together to build a new constellation. Bust when each of these components only looks out for number one, on occasion meeting head on. In today’s Mexico, government confronts, by design, in a systematic way and cannot conceive of a society working in harmony. This vision impedes it from understanding the summons-to-arms that the femicides have placed at the Palace gates.
In the 21st century, an earnest and realistic government would head up the movement against femicides and infanticides, it would make them a common cause for transforming the country. In AMLO’s Fourth Transformation (4T), in which everything has to be different from what went on before, government plays the victim and disqualifies anything that dares to present a distinct manner of thinking or acting, beginning with the First Lady, who was required to recant her words.
In the Mexico of the 21st century, victims are guilty; those who denounce assaults, rapes, homicides and other social wrongdoings are conservative; and those who disagree with the official truth are traitors, i.e. neoliberals.
The sole fact that there continues to exist the pretension of there being an official truth betrays the absurdity –the ahistorical nature- of this 19th century view in the heart of the information era. Back to the authoritarianism of the 20th century.
Femicide is an ill created and tolerated by Mexican society because it has lost the compass of what is acceptable and what is intolerable. The sole fact that it would even occur to the head of a family to demand a “gift” in the form of a little girl and bully his own family into procuring one for him is incontrovertible evidence of the destruction of the essence of civility.
Just to put things into perspective: if the ill that afflicts Mexico were the coronavirus, we would have disappeared from the map due to this absolute incapacity to organize ourselves and act in response to the obstacles confronting us through the day-to-day reality. An epidemic that is not contained turns into a pandemic and pandemics –in matters of health and of politics- kill off societies and their governments.
Thus, femicide and infanticide should not only be condemned, but they also should be assumed to revise the dogmas of how to conduct public affairs so that these ills would cease to be once and for all. This lack of moral compass that would allow to distinguish what is –and should be- acceptable and intolerable, or if one prefers, differentiate the good from the bad, have led us to view with naturality what is not natural, what cannot be tolerated.
This “damned reality” has fallen into the hands of the government and does not know how to respond to it. Rather than force it to assume its responsibility, the government’s reaction has been phantasmagoric: how dare the damned reality sabotage the 4T.
Luis Rubio is chairman of the Mexican Council on Foreign Relations and of México Evalúa-CIDAC. A Spanish version of this Op-Ed appeared first in Reforma’s newspaper print edition.