Mexico

Mr BoShambles

jambiguous
the Pan-Americana as well being, I'd suspect, the most official border crossing. I've only crossed twice, both times at Tapachula - also every time I was there I got around by hitching rather than bus so I got a different (not better, just different)perspective I think.
yeah we got a bus which dropped us at the checkpoints. walked across la frontera and picked up a bus across the other side. it did all seem rather chaotic and disorganised but then this was my experience of most of the borders we crossed in latin america.
 

Mr BoShambles

jambiguous
there is still essentially rule of law, which I'm not sure is the case everywhere on the Mex/Guat border
i think the point here - to me anyway - is that 'the rule of law' is never an absolute but rather a negotiated phenomenon. this is more pronounced in less developed countries but applies in the 'West' as well (think no-go projects/estates/barrio's etc). also in less developed countries, as a general rule, it is common that the further you go from the administrative centre(s) the less effectively centralised state power is projected.
 
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padraig (u.s.)

a monkey that will go ape
i think the point here - to me anyway - is that 'the rule of law' is never an absolute but rather a negotiated phenomenon. this is more pronounced in less developed countries but applies in the 'West' as well (think no-go projects/estates/barrio's etc). also in less developed countries, as a general rule, it is common that the further you go from the administrative centre(s) the less effectively centralised state power is projected.
this is also a fair point - I was going to bring it up re: no-go areas in the States (though surely "no-go" is an elastic term depending on who one is referring too not being able to go somewhere).

also, probably more on the Guatamalan side, which makes sense as for all this talk it seems like Mexico is a far more stable/functioning state than Guatamala or El Salvador. though I guess either of those countries becoming a "failed state" isn't nearly as important to the U.S. in security terms.
 

padraig (u.s.)

a monkey that will go ape
yeah we got a bus which dropped us at the checkpoints. walked across la frontera and picked up a bus across the other side. it did all seem rather chaotic and disorganised but then this was my experience of most of the borders we crossed in latin america.
yes, but perhaps moreseo there b/c most borders in Latin America don't have this enormous migratory pressure bearing down on them. which is I think one thing that often gets left out of the immigration debate in the U.S. (at least in public, I'm sure policy-makers are well aware of it) - how many of the illegals are actuall Central American & how powerless the Mexican govt is to do anything about it.
 

Mr BoShambles

jambiguous
yes, but perhaps moreseo there b/c most borders in Latin America don't have this enormous migratory pressure bearing down on them. which is I think one thing that often gets left out of the immigration debate in the U.S. (at least in public, I'm sure policy-makers are well aware of it) - how many of the illegals are actuall Central American & how powerless the Mexican govt is to do anything about it.
perhaps this is the case; but then presumably (and i have nothing concrete with which to back this up) most of the nicaraguan, honduran and el salvadorean "illegals" in the US make the journey by land through Mexico -- a northwards flow of migrants thus affecting all borders to some degree (panama and costa rica are notable exceptions given i guess the relative wealth and order in these countries).
 

Mr BoShambles

jambiguous
this is also a fair point - I was going to bring it up re: no-go areas in the States (though surely "no-go" is an elastic term depending on who one is referring too not being able to go somewhere).
very true.

bottom line: states try to apply blanket rule of law across their territories. most fail to suceed in absolute terms. thus in most territories there are other sources of authority that coexist with the state and towards which some people are oriented. the degree to which this is true depends very much on the context: where, when, in relation to what.
 
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vimothy

yurp
Yes, in general terms, why do states want to apply the rule of law across territory? And why do they want to hold territory full-stop?
 

vimothy

yurp
So a state occupies territory either as a resource to exploit (including taxation), or for some strategic purpose, and applies the rule of law for the same reasons. Power would then be a function of these two processes. Is this then the psychology of the state -- the drive to hold territory and inscribe it?
 

vimothy

yurp
And even "for strategic reasons" would seemingly be encompassed by its desire to continue, or increase, its exploitation of its resources. Which is to say strategy only exists in that it advances or protects a state's ability to extract revenue.
 

Mr BoShambles

jambiguous
So a state occupies territory either as a resource to exploit (including taxation), or for some strategic purpose, and applies the rule of law for the same reasons. Power would then be a function of these two processes. Is this then the psychology of the state -- the drive to hold territory and inscribe it?
Seems reasonable to me. What do other people think?
 

Mr BoShambles

jambiguous
Having said that, does the state as such have a psychology? Is it a monolithic structure / single actor?

Still your proposition seems to tally with the Charles Tilly type historical sociology of state formation.
 

vimothy

yurp
That describes a state very generally in terms of its desires. The situation in Mexico seems more complicated. Can we say that the Mexican state simply wants to defeat the drug gangs (whoever they may be) in order to protect future revenue streams?
 

Mr BoShambles

jambiguous
That describes a state very generally in terms of its desires. The situation in Mexico seems more complicated. Can we say that the Mexican state simply wants to defeat the drug gangs (whoever they may be) in order to protect future revenue streams?
So in practice it is more complicated. Can we separate the gangs from the state as two discrete groups when - at least according to some of the articles posted earlier - high ranking officials (i.e. the president and general ffs) have been in the pay of the cartels. So official state policy may be to eradicate the gangs. But within its disaggregated structures there are clearly competing "desires" or "incentives" which compromise the stated policy.
 

Mr BoShambles

jambiguous
Officials getting rich off drug money. Tacit acceptance within the state institutions that the Mexican economy is fuelled in some part by drug money. An uneasy coexistence.

But where is the line drawn? How much power/control can the state elites afford to cede before they are in danger of fundamentally undermining the state apparatus itself and thus ultimately their own positions of authority?
 

vimothy

yurp
In some sense there is war within the state itself, and not merely between the state and a non-state actor. The state is not going to war, it is in war, is war, perhaps. And, ultimately, is this war for the conflicted state still a war for access to the resources of the state?
 

vimothy

yurp
Might defeat of the drug gangs actually equal destruction of resources from the perspective of the "Mexican State"?
 
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