What Happens When All The Police In A Town Are Removed
[The following post is by TDV Chief Editor, Jeff Berwick]
It all started over a month ago, right here in Acapulco, Mexico, when I commented to a good friend, "Have you noticed how much better traffic has been lately?"
He responded, "Yes, traffic flow has been so much better... it's because the Transit Police went on strike.".
It turned out that was the case. The Transit Police in Acapulco had went on strike and all of a sudden many local residents were noticing how much better traffic, which can get to gridlock levels during peak holiday periods, had become.
Weeks went on and you could tell that almost everybody had become aware of the lack of transit police and no one was adhering to red lights if there wasn't any oncoming traffic. The majority of people began treating red lights like a "yield" sign. They'd slow down, check that no cars were coming, and if there weren't, they'd just roll through the red light instead of sitting there for a minute or two, as traffic backed up behind them.
But, it got even better. The municipal police also then went on strike... and no one noticed.
I mentioned to my friend how much everything has been so much better in Acapulco for the last few months and said people just seem happier and I assumed it was just because traffic was flowing so much better. He then said, "Actually, the municipal police are on strike now too... so people are probably just a lot happier in general because there isn't really anyone around to bother them."
And then it got even better, this week, when the Mexican military decided to take away all the guns from the municipal police - who are still on strike!
Now, the transit and municipal police, faced with a very happy public and having been disarmed are protesting for the government to let them come back to "work"! The public in general is apathetic to it all with the vast majority of people not caring too much if they ever come back to work or not!
Has there been any noticable increase of violent crime in the meantime? No, not at all. While the main tourist areas of Acapulco are almost always completely peaceful there has been no change that I can see on the street other than people seem a bit happier than usual.
This is just one of many reasons why I love Acapulco. Even when the police are working most of them are playing cards or drinking beer. The transit police do try to extort people for money from time to time (usually around $10) if they catch them breaking some arbitrary law like going through a red light but even that is quite rare. People here just don't put up with the police and certainly don't expect them to protect them. People down in southern Mexico protect themselves.
And, even in the rare case that a certain band of young criminals have been terrorizing a neighborhood and stealing from stores it is almost always the cartels who come in to find the perpetrators... even sometimes setting up a checkpoint in the area when on the look-out for someone who has been causing problems in the community. And when the cartels find the abuser justice is usually swift... that person is never seen again.
It's almost anarchy and that's why I spend so much time here. It is by far the most anarchic big city in North America and life is so enjoyable. There are no closing times for bars and restaurants, no legislated and enforced laws on smoking or drinking, no speed limits that are enforced... and currently nothing is enforced and the city is tranquil and eminently enjoyable.
For this reason we'll soon be officially announcing Anarchapulco. It will be a freedom conference and festival held right on the beach. We've already opened up early bird pre-registrations and the amount of interest has been incredible. You can check out the site at Anarchapulco.com to see just a small part of what we've already got lined up. And, we'll be announcing new speakers and artists nearly weekly (sign up to receive updates at Anarchapulco.com or like the Anarchapulco Facebook page to be kept up to date).
Who knows, perhaps by February 27th, when the conference begins, there will still be no traffic or municipal police and you'll get an opportunity to see what a town without government police looks like and how it functions.
Here's a hint: It's eminently better!