Sunday, June 22, 2008

An Observation

I've mentioned before that the police in Mexico carry automatic weapons - machine guns - and while it was shocking at first, now it's just one more thing in the background as I go about my day. They drive by piled in the back of pickup trucks, they patrol the sidewalks on foot, sometimes they're even at the beach. But what worries me are the ones that travel by car.

They have police cars but they aren't the luxury cruisers like you see in the US. Here they look just like the cabs, usually an old Toyota Corolla type model except there's the flashing light on top. My point is they don't have a lot of legroom and there's almost always four or five cops crammed inside. Who knows what they'd do if they had too arrest someone. I guess they'd have to call for a pickup truck. Ha! Because they pick up people. Right, right, right.

Now imagine you're driving alongside one of these police cars, or better yet, you're walking past one stopped at a light. You take a peek because it's the police and who doesn't take a peek? Bodies are jammed shoulder to shoulder, the window down to provide some relief from the stifling air inside, and you notice a small metal cylinder poking out through the window.

Hmm. I wonder what that is?

You take a closer, yet still discreet, look and realize it's the tip of a machine gun. Sticking out the window. At YOU!

Most police officers point their weapon barrels up in the air, but there are quite a few who rest their weapons on their laps and let the tips rest on the window ledge. RIGHT OUT THE WINDOW AND AT THE INNOCENT PEOPLE OUTSIDE.

I was reminded of this last night on our way to Ixtapa. We were behind one of these police cars and I watched horrified as the passengers bounced along, their weapons waving every which way out the window. I'm amazed no one's been killed.

Can someone please explain the logic of this to me? I get that if the gun goes off they'd rather not shoot themselves, but aren't they supposed to be protecting us?

(I also noted that someone was tailgating the police, then passed on the right, on a curvy mountain road. Only in Mexico...)


colbymarshall said...

The brilliance of pointing loaded guns at innocent people is just amazing. A-freakin-mazing!

Melanie Avila said...

I see it ALL the time. Without exaggerating, probably at least once a day (when I leave the house, that is).

WendyCinNYC said...

Oy! Hit the deck!

Yeah, that seems like a bad idea.

Janna Qualman said...

What's with the cramming-as-many-people-as-possible-in-a-vehicle move? I know it's a stereotype people like to joke about here in the states, but it's based in truth. Just yesterday a Mexican family of no less than 20 people came to the pool in two--count 'em: TWO--minivans, which seat 7 per, at the most. We see stuff like that all the time! Can you shed any light on the matter, Melanie?

Melanie Avila said...

From what I can tell, it all comes down to money. When we lived with Ibis' family we'd all go to the beach on Sunday. In total I think we'd end up with about 30 people there, but only four or five cars. Not everyone can afford to own a vehicle so everyone fits into what's there.

I once saw at least 15 people arrive in one pickup truck, all in their Sunday best. At the beach. It left quite an impression.

Aimless Writer said...

Scary. Sounds like an place in a distance universe.
How often do they have to used those guns? Whats the crime rate like?

Melanie Avila said...

I'm not sure about the crime rate, but Ibis commented this morning that there was "only" one murder this weekend. There's a big election coming up so I guess people are distracted.

I'd say there's usually about one or two murders per day, and the town has less than 300,000 people.

Melody said...


You said you're surprised no one has been killed by guns pointed out the windows.

The cynical side of me says, "Oh, there have been deaths. You just don't know about them."

Police that don't regulate gun safety certainly don't type up "I'm at fault" accident reports.

Melody Platz

>The Happy Wanderer – A Blog about Traveling Fun

Melanie Avila said...

Melody, believe me, I've thought that, I just try to watch my accusations since I am living here. ;)

Melody said...


That's very smart of you.

spyscribbler said...

Yikes! Wow. That's not comforting at all. Wow. "Only one today?"!!

Melanie! Stay safe for us, please!