Trailer for La Dictadura Perfecta
“We need to find another news story for people to get distracted; we call it la caja China (Chinese box).” That’s a translated line from a Mexican movie that came out in 2014 named La Dictadura Perfecta (The Perfect Dictatorship). The movie depicts the sad reality of corruption that the Mexican government is currently in.
When the news of El Chapo’s recapture came out, many Mexicans untrustworthy of their own government felt that they had again used the Chinese box method to distract the people from the real issues. Chapo’s second arrest came out at the exact time that the Mexican peso suffered even a greater devaluation.
“For the great majority of mankind are satisfied with appearances, as though they were realities, and are often more influenced by the things that seem than by those that are,” Nicollo Machiavelli wrote in The Prince. The Mexican government has taken Machiavelli’s advice since its inception as the general population remains ignorant of the real issues or simply does not care (Mexico was ranked as the most ignorant nation for 2015 in several sources, followed by India and then Brazil).
The failing economy is not the only problem the government is trying to hide as explanations for the 43 students and the mansion that Mexico’s first lady bought with “her own cash” are still a mystery. The government keeps using the caja China method as important soccer games are scheduled on election day and soap operas dominate prime time. El Chapo’s capture pretty much reads like a soap opera, filled with drama and famous actors.
Currently, a dollar is equal to 17.89 pesos. Last year, the peso lost around 37.5% of its buying power — it went from being around 12 pesos for a dollar to 16.5 pesos. The trend seems to be continuing this year as the peso keeps sinking, reaching its lowest point in history at 18 pesos for a dollar. The Euro sells for 19.5 pesos.
“El billete de 20 pesos es el nuevo dollar,” I overheard in a money exchange hut as I was in line to switch my dollars to pesos. I agree with the sentiment, as it feels like the peso is headed that way. Many remember when the dollar was worth around 10 pesos, a nice round number. This changed in 2008 when it went up 20-30%, averaging 12-13 pesos for a dollar. It was an awkward exchange rate which many still rounded down to 10 pesos in their mind. With the dollar closing in at 20, the one peso coin would be a nickel, two pesos a dime, five pesos a quarter (better known as cora in Tijuana). The ten-peso coin is worth two quarters and, just like the penny, the 50 Mexican cents coin is useless.
The joke when the peso reached 15, was to celebrate its Quinceañera party. When it reached 17, the joke was a song by Los Angeles Azules that talks about being in love with a 17-year-old. Now the joke is that the George Washington is old enough to vote. Here’s his voter ID.
When it reaches 20 pesos, Chapo will escape again.