The First Crisis of the 21st Century

Maurice Walsh on Mexico’s Troubles

The man wore jeans and a white singlet, and sat in something resembling a summer house. He’d been sitting with his legs apart, an ancient rifle lying across his thighs, but he stood up and approached us with a lazy stride that concealed his wariness. To look at his gun you wouldn’t think it, but this man was the first line of defence for the peasants who had invaded the ranch called Chamic. The property lay near Mexico’s border with Guatemala, and belonged to the two Bonilla brothers, landowners well-known locally. The day before we arrived, a band of peasants had surprised the Bonillas in a nearby village as they sat at breakfast over bottles of coke. They were brought to the farm at gunpoint, imprisoned, and held as hostages on their own land.

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