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LUMPENPROLETARIAT—I have been in the presence of fascist thugs, armed to the teeth, since I was a kid. My earliest experiences were as an American kid, visiting relatives in Mexico. One thug, armed to the teeth, pulled over my family’s pick-up truck. I was riding in the back; the truck had a camper shell. I must have been in my early teens, mid-1980s. It never sat well with me that armed thugs could pull us over, search us, and interrogate us for no reason, without a warrant, without any probable cause, and so on. But that’s life in Mexico, at least during the various years when I have visited my family there.

Hasta Los Dientes (2018) [Armed to the Teeth]

Some Mexican paramilitary types had pulled us over. In their warrantless search of our vehicle, one of the armed thugs caught me in the back, armed with a sling shot—or, more precisely, a “folding, steel framed wrist brace slingshot using tubular bands.” The assault-rifle-strapped thug seemed to respect my evident contempt for his ilk. A lot is communicated in silence, simply with eye contact. The moment seemed to take forever. It was dark, dawn. The soldier in black waved around his mini mag light around into the bed of the truck through the camper shell door, holding onto the shell door, as if, he did’t trust the camper shell door shocks to work. But the pick-up was tip top.

If memory serves me, it was a brand new Ford F-250. I must have looked like a weak puppy, snuggled up in some warm blankets with books and pillows, amidst the luggage in the back. My father stood by the side of the pick-up truck. I knew my father had my back; I think he had firearms, which he would’ve responsibly declared from the outset. But I also knew Mexican military don’t play. The assault-rifle-strapped thug smiled and asked me, “¿De qué calibre es tu resortera?” I think I smiled, fighting back my fear. Maybe dad smiled, too. After they took a cash bribe from my father, who already understood how Mexican fascism works, they let us go on our way. That wasn’t the first, or the last, time I experienced fascism. But I must save those narratives about my home, the United States of America, for another time.

I will say this, in hindsight, my experiences with the Mexican military rank-and-file have never been as bad as my experiences with the Mexican federales. Those fuckers… slovenly lot, in t-shirts with exposed beer bellies hanging out. Half the time, you can’t even tell, if they’re legit federales, or la federal, when you get pulled over for the mordida, or bribe. At least, back before 1998, the last time I visited Mexico. But you can always tell the weaponry looks legit. Or, at least, you don’t really wanna test ’em. You just wanna be on your way. They all kill the same, whether Mexican military, or the federales, or the judiciales. Real life is nothing like those Hollywood movies.

Admittedly, I rarely get to watch TV. But I watch TV, every chance I get, which is usually when I sit down to eat a meal, alone. This documentary synopsis looks compelling, Hasta los dientes. It brings back old memories of travelling through Mexico by land. The filmmaker never intended to be a filmmaker. But he was compelled by loyalty to his childhood friend, Javier Arreondo. Arnaut decided to dedicate his life to mastering the craft of filmmaking, instead of pursuing communications, when he learned that Javier had been murdered. Arnaut became a filmmaker just so he could tell this story about what the Mexican state did to his childhood friend, Javier, and Javier’s colleague, Jorge. Hasta los dientes is about a couple of honor students, who were accused of delinquency by the Mexican government; and, then… Well…

I’m only, like 20 minutes in, but I had to pause it to jot down these notes and finish my breakfast. I couldn’t help reading some background information on this story, though. It turns out this documentary film “is also a harsh criticism of [Mexico’s] Internal Security Law, a controversial measure that has been denounced by hundreds of civil associations—in addition to the UN and the Organization of American States (OAS)—because according to them,” the Internal Security Law allows active military loose on the streets, effectively doing the work of local cops. Damn. Talk about a fascist police state. At least, that’s how it looks from the outside looking in. We need our Mexican brothers and sisters to tell us in their own words what it’s like living in Mexico these days. In the meantime, let’s watch this award-winning documentary film, which took the filmmaker, Alberto Arnaut Estradas, some eight years to complete, shall we? Veamos esto, ¿de acuerdo?



Hasta los dientes is currently available on Netflix (c. DEC 2020), watch it here: https://www.netflix.com/title/81123826

Hasta los dientes está disponible ahora en Netflix (c. DEC 2020), míralo aquí: https://www.netflix.com/us-es/title/81123826


IMDB—On March 19th 2010, the Mexican government announced the death of two hitmen [i.e., sicarios], armed to the teeth, in the city of Monterrey, Nuevo León. Days later, it was discovered that they were in fact […] [SPOILER ALERT, even though it’s a true story…]

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Learn more at IMDB.


EL PAÍS—[15 May 2018] ‘Hasta los dientes’: la historia de cómo el Ejército mexicano ejecutó a dos estudiantes
Recibieron un disparo a un metro de distancia y los hicieron pasar por sicaros, el documental que dirige Alberto Arnaut revive aquel asesinato en plena guerra contra el narco

Un vídeo gris de una cámara de seguridad muestra cómo un joven entra corriendo a las instalaciones del Tec de Monterrey. Habían disparado a su amigo y estaba pidiendo ayuda. No volverá a aparecer. En una de las universidades privadas más importantes de México se acababa de cometer uno de los peores y más crueles crímenes de la guerra contra el narcotráfico. En el campus de Monterrey (noreste del país) murieron asesinados el 19 de marzo de 2010 dos estudiantes. Y el que apretó el gatillo no fue un capo de la droga, sino el Ejército mexicano. “Los muertos no declaran”.

El documental Hasta los dientes, que dirige Alberto Arnaut, narra cómo la metralla de aquella guerra alcanzó también a la población civil, a quien pretendía salvar. Dos estudiantes yacían en el piso de una institución académica sagrada sujetando, ya muertos, dos armas largas. Nadie dudó entonces de que habían ejecutado a dos sicarios. Y lo celebraron. En esos momentos de terror, un asesino menos en las calles era recibido como una victoria para el país. Pero ellos no eran narcos, eran dos alumnos que se habían quedado hasta tarde estudiando y habían salido a por algo de comida. En la puerta de su universidad les alcanzaron los balazos. Podría haber sido un error fatal, pero no lo fue.

Unas imágenes tomadas por testigos de los hechos y por cámaras de televisión, que incluye el documental, muestran cómo allí cualquiera podría haber acabado igual. En medio de una gran avenida de esta ciudad industrial se había abierto un frente de guerra. Metralla y granadas. Los coches daban rápidamente marcha atrás, una moto perdió el control y se estrelló contra un muro, ninguna autoridad impidió que la población se interpusiera entre las balas de los militares y los sicarios. Y allí en medio estaban Jorge Mercado y Javier Arreondo.

Según muestra Hasta los dientes, que utiliza los detalles del expediente del caso, las imágenes de las cámaras de seguridad, testimonios de testigos, de las familias, declaraciones del personal de seguridad de la institución y de las autoridades de Gobierno, Jorge y Javier fueron ejecutados de manera extrajudicial. Javier había sido herido por unas balas perdidas de aquel enfrentamiento. Pero Jorge estaba todavía vivo. Los militares se dieron cuenta de su gran error. Aquellos jóvenes no tenían pinta de asesinos. Llevaban unas mochilas, salían a comer. Pero, como señala un militar que interviene en el documental: “Los muertos no declaran”. Esas eran las ódenes de aquel Ejército entrenado para exterminar en las calles a los miembros del crimen organizado. Y acabaron los dos muertos con un balazo recibido a un metro de distancia. Un tiro de gracia. Les propinaron unos golpes y construyeron una escena del crimen a su medida: cada uno agarraba un rifle.

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Aprende más en EL PAÍS.


HEAVEN OF HORROR—[13 AUG 2019] HASTA LOS DIENTES is a new true crime documentary on Netflix. While it runs a bit long, it features a fascinating and scary true story. [SPOILER ALERT, even though it’s a true story…]

Read more at HEAVEN OF HORROR.


NOTAS POST MORTEM: Dios, maldita sea. Por favor mire esta película.


POST MORTEM NOTES: God, damn. Please watch this film.

(c. 57:45) One eye-witness, among a group of others at a convenience store nearby, observed the so-called Mexican ‘War On Drugs’ military assault being ambushed by narcotraffickers. She said they were all recording on their phones, all copwatching, just like the Black Panther Party pioneered back in the 1960s. She recalled her experiences, as she replayed her smartphone video recording:

“Those were the soldiers. They were going from side to side. At the same time, cars were passing by there. What shocked me the most that night was that I suddenly saw a column of soldiers going inside Tech [i.e., the university]. That’s when they entered Tech. You can see the bars in the back, the light you can see is the campus lighting. At that moment, I knew something serious was going on. We stayed at the store for 20 or 25 minutes, which seemed endless. And all the people in there were filming with their phones… to try to understand what was going on outside, and why there wasn’t anyone telling us what to do.

Because I’m here.</strong>”That’s when a soldier came in. He hit the counter and said, ‘Don’t film this.‘ Don’t film this? ‘Don’t film this.’ Easy. Okay. Okay. ‘Don’t film this. Easy. No. Easy. No. ‘Why are you filming?’ Because I’m here.


[11 DEC 2020]

[Last modified on 24 DEC 2020 at 03:51 PST]