When governments from time to time manage to do something right – and yes, that happens – there’s nothing wrong with bragging about it a little. Most Meridans and Yucatecans fully realize that this neck of the woods is one of the very safest in a country which has been plagued by the most awful drug-related violence in recent years. Probably most foreigners understand it as well. After all, isn’t that one of the main reasons they came here in the first place?
But the latest self-promotion by Yucatan’s PRI dominated State government is really over the top. A smiling face of Governor Ivonne Ortega Pacheco, flanked by black-uniformed state police officers, boldly proclaims “zero kidnappings and a level of security similar to that of the Nordic countries.” The advertisement is plastered on billboards all over town this morning. (A signal that the 2012 national political campaign is already underway, maybe?)
For those who have forgotten what they learned in sixth grade Geography, the term Nordic commonly refers to the Baltic countries of Denmark, Finland, Sweden, and Norway. And for those who have not turned on their TV in the past week, or read a newspaper or consulted a website in any language, Norway just suffered the most horrific episode of domestic violence in its long history – and one of the most unexpected in the world since the U.S. terrorist attacks of 2001.
Perhaps the Governor’s congratulatory public display was planned months ago, long before Norway’s terror of last weekend. And perhaps the two have no connection whatever; maybe the timing was purely fortuitous. But as one country and its people suffer greatly from the acts of a madman – a country not accustomed to the kind of violence which is just another daily event in many parts of Mexico – would it not have been wiser to modify the billboards? Was it necessary for the Governor to compare the State which she leads to a country which today is so deeply in mourning?
It’s a question of timing. A question of tact. A question, perhaps, of good judgment and common sense.
© Edward V. Byrne 2011. This article may be briefly quoted but not reproduced in full without express permission of the author.