“Annus Horribilis”

Like The Beast, train of the immigrants that crosses the country, this annus horribilis, horrible year, of 2011, has begun soaked in human blood, and we have barely completed one month of the calendar.

While China waits for an annus mirabilis, a year of marvels in this Year of the Rabbit, a time of good fortune and prosperity, in Mexico, according to the stars, we await an annus horribilis that, although we are on its threshold, portends turbulence.

In recent times, both Queen Elizabeth 11 and King Juan Carlos 1 of Spain have declared 1992 and 2007 respectively anni horribili because of events in those years. But in our plebian monarchy of Tlatoanis and Caltzonzins, we too have also undergone our own. Calderon has indirectly declared 2010 to be one of these on account of the number of deaths (15,273) caused by the war against the drug cartels, although he says that this war is not a war but something other than a war (what then is a war?). We shouldn’t get upset over what the Bicentennial Year has left us because, as Nikito Nipongo puts it: “Don’t worry that this year turned out to be a bad one, the next will be worse”.

We began 2011 with beheadings, executions, murdered women activists, and children sacrificed for being in the wrong place at the wrong time, and with the burning of an indigenous village in Durango. This is why Michael Braun, ex-head of DEA operations, has said that “the drug cartels in Mexico are the most sophisticated and dangerous that the world have ever known.” And while SECTUR (Secretaria de Turismo) is paying for ads in the New York Times, two cruise lines have cancelled their Mexican visits for fear of the violence.

No matter, the soft conscience of our authorities is at peace. They don’t investigate crimes in their own backyard, nor arrest the white collar criminals across their desks, and they can explain everything, having us believe that Mexico is a magical country where there are murders but no murderers.

Meanwhile, the three great parties, plus their hangers-on and opportunists, are not hanging back in sharing the pie. They are already sharpening their claws in order to win in 2012. How many candidates for election will come forward backed by the drug barons? These battles will be fought over a floundering Mexico fighting to maintain its institutional survival, and its moral dignity, and its image within and without its borders.

Although morale among Mexicans is at rock bottom and disillusionment permeates all sectors of society, all ages and all personalities, because of the violence in the streets, on the highways, in clubs, parking lots etc., etc., and the chronic corruption of the authorities – starting with the daily abuse of power by government, business, crime bosses, corruption in Mexico has, as I stated in “The Refrain of Mexican Corruption,” no party. People don’t know where to turn, nor which politician or authority to trust.

The political class is obsessed with gossiping about the Presidential succession, as if it were not going to be more of the same; as if things this term will not be like the term before, and the one before that and the one before that. The only thing that motivates the politicians is power.

So, hold on tight, in 2012 we will land in free fall. But first we have to get through the moral turbulence, with the attendant visual and oral pollution of this annus horribilis, the Terrifying Year of 2011, where the ground will be cleared for the political battle, to all appearances to the death, for the Presidency. Like in the Arena Mexico, we can announce: In this corner, Felipe Calderon. In the other, Felipe Caltzontzin . What will this government do in its penultimate year? Will it give us an annus horribilis or an annus mirabilis? Which year will prevail? Make your bets, or invoke the Virgen of Guadalupe, or pack your bags, or at least make sure the future will find that you received confession.

1 – The Calzantzin were the Purepecha rulers of Michoacan (President Calderon’s state) as were the Tlatoanis of the Aztecs.


translated from the Spanish by Jeremy Greenwood.