Monday, April 27, 2015
FAIRFIELD-SUISUN, CALIFORNIA
99 CENTS

Mexicans’ skepticism fuels legend of ‘El Chapo’

navarrette column sig

By
From page A7 | February 27, 2014 |

SAN DIEGO — U.S. officials want to extradite the notorious Mexican drug lord Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman, who was captured last week by Mexican marines and U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration agents.

Sounds like a fine idea. The 56-year-old leader of the Sinaloa drug cartel was arrested before, in 1993, and sentenced to 20 years in a maximum security prison in the Mexican state of Jalisco. He escaped in 2001 by hiding in a laundry cart after bribing guards to look the other way. Perhaps that will happen again.

But let’s not get ahead of ourselves. Before we talk of extradition, shouldn’t we make sure that the man in custody in Mexico is really Guzman? A lot of Mexicans don’t believe he is.

Should they take the word of the Mexican government? After all, Mexico can be a house of mirrors. No one distrusts that government more than the governed, and with good cause. In the past 100 years, Mexico has deceived, abused, looted, oppressed and mistreated those who it is supposed to serve.

The only Mexicans whom the government does a good job of serving are the wealthy and powerful – people like Guzman, whose nickname means “the short one.” The man dubbed “the world’s most powerful drug trafficker” is 5 feet 6 inches tall. But he has a big wallet; his net worth has been estimated by Forbes to be close to $1 billion.

In a country where people make $6 or $7 per day, that kind of money doesn’t just open doors. It knocks them down. No wonder the citizens of Mexico have so little trust in their government when it tries to take down such powerful and shadowy figures.

Now that distrust has taken a bizarre turn. Mexicans are taking their skepticism to social media, YouTube and underground drug culture websites. Once word got out about the arrest of El Chapo, Facebook and Twitter went loco. Mexicans are a social people, and they devour social media. This is their town square, where they have been gathering to express doubts that the man in custody is really Guzman.

Within days of the arrest, a story circulated suggesting the individual seen being led away by authorities was really someone who had been hired by the Mexican government to play the role of El Chapo, in order to fool people into thinking that the fugitive was in custody when he was still at large. Many people – judging from their comments on social media – found the decoy theory entirely plausible.

Look at the circumstances of the takedown, they said. With enormous resources, and a security detail fit for a head of state, it doesn’t make sense that Guzman would be captured in a modest condo in the Pacific coastal town of Mazatlan without a single shot being fired. According to media reports, the digs included “cheap and unglamorous furnishings” with little food or liquor.

Is this the way a billionaire travels?

Besides a long-standing distrust of their government and the fact that Mexico is the land of conspiracies, another factor is at play: Many Mexicans might be reluctant to surrender their grip on a larger-than-life legend. El Chapo has been immortalized in everything from books to documentaries to corridos (Mexican folk songs). As has been reported by U.S. media outlets, Guzman is revered by many as a south of the border version of Robin Hood.

Would such a person have been arrested so easily? One expects more for a folk hero.

Never mind Robin Hood. With his air of mystery, Guzman is more comparable to another Joaquin – Joaquin Murrieta. The 19th century California bandit and social avenger won followers by standing up to a brazen land grab inspired by Manifest Destiny. Like Guzman, Murrieta had a price on his head. It was $1,000, which compares poorly to the $7 million that the U.S. and Mexican governments offered for tips leading to the capture of El Chapo. When Murrieta was killed by a posse of California frontier lawmen in 1853, the skepticism persisted for decades that the whole thing was a hoax and that authorities had gotten the wrong man.

The same skepticism is raging today in Mexico, where people will be having this debate for years to come. The legend of El Chapo lives on.

Ruben Navarrette is a columnist for U-T San Diego. Reach him at [email protected]

Ruben Navarrette

LEAVE A COMMENT

Discussion | No comments

The Daily Republic does not necessarily condone the comments here, nor does it review every post. Read our full policy

.

Solano News

County action speeds Solano fairgrounds plan to next phase

By Kevin W. Green | From Page: A1 | Gallery

 
Vacaville eyes ban on medical marijuana grows

By Ryan McCarthy | From Page: A1

Paint the Town Purple; and Roxie

By Tony Wade | From Page: A2

 
City Coach hosts first block party

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A3

 
Bid Corderos Park, city staff recommends

By Ryan McCarthy | From Page: A3

White minister fought for civil rights in the south

By Amy Maginnis-Honey | From Page: A3 | Gallery

 
Farmers markets herald return of summer

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A3

Crash claims life of Concord teen

By Amy Maginnis-Honey | From Page: A4

 
Denim and Diamonds fundraiser set May 16

By Amy Maginnis-Honey | From Page: A4

Biz Buzz: Budweiser kicks off new parks campaign

By Susan Hiland | From Page: B7

 
Biz Buzz: Dutch Bros. plans ALS fundraiser

By Susan Hiland | From Page: B7

Biz Buzz: Company schedules pasta class

By Susan Hiland | From Page: B7

 
 
Biz Buzz: NorthBay offers extended hours for primary care

By Kevin W. Green | From Page: B7 | Gallery

Biz Buzz: Retail store helps those with autism

By Susan Hiland | From Page: B7

 
Biz Buzz: Committee schedules contractors breakfast

By Kevin W. Green | From Page: B7

.

US / World

Picture it: A 1,000-year exposure showing a changing Earth

By The Associated Press | From Page: A1

 
Quake agony revealed quietly on trip from Nepal airport

By The Associated Press | From Page: A5

Corinthian Colleges to shut down all 28 remaining campuses

By The Associated Press | From Page: A5

 
No time to lose: Global response to Nepal quake gears up

By The Associated Press | From Page: A5

Japan’s prime minister goes to US to showcase close ties

By The Associated Press | From Page: A5

 
Israel says airstrike on Syrian border targeted militants

By The Associated Press | From Page: A5

Family, friends in Baltimore mourn death of arrested man

By The Associated Press | From Page: A5

 
‘Batman’ killer studied brain disorders before mass murder

By The Associated Press | From Page: A5

Image from the quake: Heavy damage in Nepal ancient city

By The Associated Press | From Page: A5

 
Fighting rages in Yemen’s 3rd-largest city, strikes continue

By The Associated Press | From Page: A5

Mountaineers, guides stream from Everest after avalanche

By The Associated Press | From Page: A5

 
Putin accuses US of supporting separatists in Russia

By The Associated Press | From Page: A5

Death toll in Nepal quake rises to more than 3,200

By The Associated Press | From Page: A5

 
Late spring complicates already perilous amphibian migration

By The Associated Press | From Page: A5

Former GOP chairman enters US Senate race in California

By The Associated Press | From Page: A5

 
.

Living

Community Calendar: April 27, 2015

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A2

 
Today in history: Monday, April 27, 2015

By The Associated Press | From Page: A2

Parenting: How to set boundaries on screen time

By The Washington Post | From Page: B5

 
Horoscope: April 28, 2015

By Holiday Mathis | From Page: B5

Horoscope: April 27, 2015

By Holiday Mathis | From Page: A7

 
My husband doesn’t want me to redecorate home he had with first wife

By Kathy Mitchell and Marcy Sugar | From Page: A7

.

Entertainment

TVGrid April 27

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B6

 
TVGrid April 28

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B7

.

Sports

Warriors confident after sweep of Pelicans

By The Associated Press | From Page: B1

 
Giants-Rockies game postponed by rain

By The Associated Press | From Page: B1

 
Justin Rose wins in New Orleans for 7th PGA Tour title

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

Wall, Beal lead Wiz past Raptors 125-94 in Game 4 for sweep

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

 
Paul, Clippers even series with 114-105 win over Spurs

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

 
Ko wins Swinging Skirts for 2nd straight year

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

Motorcycle rider from Livermore killed in Nevada race

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

 
Billy Andrade and Joe Durant win Legends of Golf

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

Cavs sweep Celts as James scores 27 in 101-93 victory

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

 
It’s here: Fight week begins with Pacquiao caravan to Vegas

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

American Pharoah completes final pre-Kentucky Derby workout

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

 
Newgarden claims first IndyCar Series win not far from home

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

.

Business

.

Obituaries

Elizabeth Cepeda

By Nancy Green | From Page: A4, 1 Comment

 
Kirk Noonan

By Nancy Green | From Page: A4, 1 Comment

Sandra King

By Nancy Green | From Page: A4

 
Janis Ruth (Sefzik) Skinner

By Nancy Green | From Page: A4

.

Comics

Rose is Rose April 28

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

 
Get Fuzzy April 28

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

Dilbert April 28

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

 
B.C. April 28

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

Blondie April 28

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

 
Frank and Ernest April 28

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

Wizard of Id April 28

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

 
Peanuts April 28

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

Baldo April 28

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

 
Garfield April 28

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

Beetle Bailey April 28

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

 
For Better or Worse April 28

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

Sally Forth April 28

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

 
Baby Blues April 28

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

Zits April 28

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

 
Pickles April 28

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

Bridge April 28

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B5

 
Cryptoquote April 28

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B5

Word Sleuth April 28

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B5

 
Crossword April 28

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B5

Sudoku April 28

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B5

 
Garfield April 27

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A6

Beetle Bailey April 27

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A6

 
Blondie April 27

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A6

Get Fuzzy April 27

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A6

 
Pickles April 27

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A6

Wizard of Id April 27

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A6

 
Baldo April 27

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A6

Rose is Rose April 27

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A6

 
For Better or Worse April 27

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A6

Zits April 27

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A6

 
Frank and Ernest April 27

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A6

Peanuts April 27

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A6

 
Dilbert April 27

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A6

Baby Blues April 27

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A6

 
Sally Forth April 27

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A6

B.C. April 27

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A6

 
Cryptoquote April 27

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A7

Word Sleuth April 27

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A7

 
Sudoku April 27

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A7

Bridge April 27

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A7

 
Crossword April 27

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A7