I just wrote this on Facebook:
So, Kony 2012. Who remembers that?
It certainly seems to have died down.
And now that it has, I can evaluate it better.
The first time I saw their video I instantly supported it and posted it on my FB wall, something I wish I'd waited to do. I wish I'd actually really looked at the issue and the charity, rather than taking what they say wholesale.
I know now that Joseph Kony's glory days are long past, his lieutenants are being captured, and he himself is running around the jungle with a militia of about 500, and also no longer in Uganda.
Not to say, of course, that he can't still do damage of any kind, he can, but still.
One thing you can say about the Kony 2012 video is that it was effective, for a time. The video was a little weird, with cuts to Saturn's rings for some reason, a huge focus on this guy's kid, rather than the actual issue, a variety of misleading statements, and an odd White Man's Burden sounding sentiment throughout.
You can say, I guess, that it was still a good thing, as it spread awareness of Kony, and awareness usually begets action. But most of the action, really, was buying bumper stickers and putting up posters. And then people forgot about it.
But worse, drawing huge attention to a relatively insignificant issue tends to draw attention away from the much more significant issues.
For a great example, you don't need to go any farther than just south of the border, in Mexico.
Recently, the government there started a huge crackdown on the drug cartels, which has started a kind of 3 sided war.
In one corner, you have the Mexican government, fighting against all of the cartels (sometimes, when they're not being bribed, or helping them).
In the second corner, you have the Los Zetas alliance, consisting of Los Zetas ("The Zs"), the Tijuana Cartel, the Juarez Cartel, and until recently when it was destroyed, the Beltrán-Leyva Cartel.
The Los Zetas Cartel is widely known as the most high-tech and sophisticated criminal organization in Mexico. Originally, Los Zetas was an arm of the Mexican Army, their most highly trained, special forces wing, before they broke off to deal drugs.
Thus, they have night vision goggles, RPGs, sophisticated surveillance and combat tactics, and large planes, including 747's, to fly cocaine from Columbia, where it's grown with the help of local militias, as well as to Africa, where they have airstrips in order to smuggle drugs into Europe. They are widely considered perhaps powerful enough to take down the entire political process of the country.
In the third corner, you have the Sinaloa Federation. A more recent and temporary alliance whose main players are the Gulf Cartel, which used to be hugely powerful, but is now only a shadow of its former self, and the Sinaloa Cartel, which has long been the world's most powerful criminal organization, until the rise of Los Zetas has been threatening its position.
The Los Zetas alliance and the Sinaloa Federation are bitter rivals that have been battling with each other and with the Mexican government. They rule through brutality, which creates a vicious circle.
When your rival leaves a headless body hanging from an overpass, your only choice is to up that with 14 severed heads in a cooler in front of city hall. But what do you do when your rivals massacre 49 civilians outside town?
Needless to say, the drug world in Mexico is a dynamic one, and very often kingpins are imprisoned or killed. There is one recent exception though:
A man named Joaquín Guzmán Loera, also known as "El Chapo" (The Shorty, he's only 5'6") has been leader of the Sinaloa Cartel since the early '90s.
In 1993, he was captured and put in prison in Mexico, but that didn't stop him. He continued to govern his cartel from prison, and bribed nearly everyone working in the prison, including the warden. He waited until 2001, then his prison guard opened his cell door, he walked out, guards drove him away, and let him get out of the car, and he ran off.
It's been estimated his escape cost him more than $2 million.
Of course, that's barely anything to El Chapo. He's literally a billionaire, his wealth has been compared to that of former Colombian drug lord Pablo Escobar, a man so rich he spent $2500 each month just on rubber bands to wrap his hundred dollar bills, and needed entire warehouses to store his $100 bill bricks.
He is one of the richest men in Mexico.
Forbes published a list in 2008, in coordination with global law enforcement officials to find the 10 most wanted fugitives in the world. El Chapo was second, until upon the death of Osama Bin Laden, he was moved up to #1, the most wanted fugitive on Earth.
And yet, as powerful and influential as Guzmán is, the rapid rise of the Los Zetas Cartel is what has US drug officials scared, afraid it might bring down the Mexican government.
So in response to this, they've decided to arm the Sinaloa Cartel, Los Zetas' bitter rival, in an attempt to bring them down. Not only that, they let the Sinaloa Federation fly a 747 cargo plane of cocaine into US air space unmolested.
Now, I think a lot of you probably know Ermo, Eric. Obviously, he's one of my Mexican friends, and I make fun of him a lot about how much fucking crime Mexico has, just as he makes jokes about Germany to me, and one of the ways I make fun of him is by saying that since we had Kony 2012, we'll probably have Guzmán 2013.
And yet, it's also kind of serious. Guzmán 2013 would be frankly a more worthy goal than Kony 2012, both in the size of the problem, and the proximity, right South of us.
So if you truly want to have a public awareness campaign about catching someone, I swear: Guzmán 2013.
(or, of course, just fucking legalize all drugs already, and have the huge drug profits switch to legitimate companies, rather than violent drug cartels. That's the best option...)