So I got to Mexico right when Shorty made his big escape. They closed the Toluca airport. Mexico City was a mess, with all documents being checked and short men with large guns in digicam manning all the entry and exit points.
This is, of course, theater ... but necessary theater. After all, if the government didn’t lock down the airports, then Shorty could potentially waltz off through them. So don’t be too harsh on them for that.
Be harsh on them for letting Shorty go in the first place. President Calderón’s decision to assault organized crime head on is questionable, although I will admit that I supported it at the time and probably would again with the information available. But his decision to ramp up law-enforcement cooperation with the United States is not. It was an excellent decision, long overdue.
The problem is that there was no institutional meet on the cooperation policy’s bones. OPBAT this was not. The cooperation could be overturned on a dime, and with the inauguration of the Peña administration, it was.
And so, Shorty was not extradited to the United States.
Now, a Martian observer might have assumed that this was a reasonable sop to Mexican nationalism. After all, Canada and the U.S. have extremely deep law-enforcement linkages, but neither country regularly extradites its criminals to the other if they are wanted in both places.
The problem is that there is another interpretation: Mexico is corrupt. Extradition would have removed the ability of Mexican officials to extract bribes. In this view, even if the highest levels of government were not directly complicit, they (read: the Peña administration) did not want to end the gravy train for those lower on the food chain. Nationalism was just an excuse.
And that is the significance of Shorty’s escape. Boz is 100% correct that in isolation the escape means little. But with each new data point, the position that the Peña administration is no more corrupt than the Calderón and Fox administrations before it becomes more difficult to sustain. At some point, the camel’s back will break ... and we just came a lot closer to that point.
But to return to the main point, without full cooperation with the United States, Washington-Ottawa style, Shorty will never be re-got.