We’re postponing The #BuildAmerica Project trip to Mexico. The reason why involves Mexican political intrigue, President Trump, the US midterm elections and, just maybe, a deal with the narcos.
The Central American refugee caravan came into the national spotlight around October 15th. President Trump & the Republicans, their credibility & popularity wounded in the aftermath of the Kavanaugh confirmation fiasco, seized on the issue and made it the focus of national media attention.The optics were terrible for the Democrats, who had been entertaining hopes of a coming electoral Blue Wave.
Orcs are coming to invade America! said Fox News. This is what the Democrats want, said Rush Limbaugh.
My dad, a bellwether for liberal sentiment, called me on the phone a few days later. “I bet the Russians organized this,” he said. “What a goddamn gift to Trump. Shit.”
On October 28th, amidst all this insanity, I came up with the idea of going down to Mexico to actually visit the caravan and distribute American flags. Like most fledgling ideas, it was half baked at first. 72 hours later, we had fleshed out and launched the #BuildAmerica Project, signed up a small delegation of entrepreneurs, created a crowdfunding campaign and made contact with the Caravan’s organizers via a local fixer on the ground in Mexico. Guerrilla Capital had access, people and even a little money!
Domestic terrorism stole the headlines for a bit, but I fully expected the caravan to return to the spotlight. We were going to be in the middle of everything, on the ground in Mexico meeting entrepreneurs & seeing first hand who these refugees were, judging for ourselves and––if our assumptions proved correct––distributing American flags and creating a novel, high-visibility counter-narrative.
Then, all of a sudden, images of the caravan stopped coming in. News reports that had once been plentiful were suddenly few & far between. Trump has tried to keep the issue in the spotlight, but the lack of fresh, compelling imagery has made this difficult.
So… What happened? Why has coverage of the caravan effectively stopped?
What our fixers are telling us
- 3,000 refugees are now effectively off the grid deep in the jungles of Mexico, near Juchitán de Zaragoza, in an area that was recently devastated by an 8.1 magnitude earthquake
- the caravan has stopped heading north towards Mexico City and has instead turned ~90 degrees to head towards Veracruz, Mexico’s most dangerous region
- the organizers have stopped cooperating with mainstream press, shutting down the most convenient channels for access (this would not have affected us, however)
- our Mexican fixers refuse to go to Veracruz or even arrange take us there, citing extreme security risks
The caravan organizers and the Mexican government saw how the visuals of the caravan were helping Trump in the US midterm elections and decided to act in a semi-coordinated fashion to limit press access to the caravan, with a little help of the Narcos.
The caravan’s non-obvious pivot to the East is a clever ploy to put the caravan out of reach of American press, particularly cameras.
Based on the intel we’ve received (through multiple middleman, so take with many grains of salt), here’s the path I think they’re going:
Given that the caravan is travelling ~25 miles a day, this route puts the caravan in the heart of Veracruz on Tuesday November 6th, aka Election Day in the US.
This could be a happy accident for the Democrats, or the caravan could be purposely sandbagging their progress in order to make themselves scarce and stay out the spotlight. I’m guessing the latter.
But why o’ why would a group of thousands of people escaping crime & murder purposely head into the most dangerous, crime- & murder-ridden region of Mexico? I mean, if you’re running from bad guys, wouldn’t you go out of your way to avoid the bad guys?
Unless, of course, you’ve got the bad guys on your side. Queue the dramatic music and political intrigue…
Let’s say you’re a senior official in the Mexican government. The President. A regional governor. Whatever. You HATE Trump. Hating Trump is politically very easy for you because he’s the rich & powerful next door neighbor who’s a total asshole. Like any good enemies––the nazis, the commies, ISIS––Trump unites the Mexican people, which makes it easier for their leaders to get certain things done.
You see this caravan come through your country. Ok, yeah, you’ve seen this kind of thing before. At first, no big deal. Whatevs. Como sea. Then the issue blows up on US media. Trump is going to town. You want the Democrats to win the midterms because you know they’ll never agree to pay for Trump’s fucken wall, but suddenly the elections are in peril.
You need to act. You have the power to do something about it and snatch this political gift from The Donald’s tiny hands. You will not stand idly by. At first, you try persuading the caravan peeps to hang out and become citizens, but who expected that to work? You can’t use force to stop the caravan. That would political suicide. Your people are on their side! In your heart, you are too. Who doesn’t dream of jumping the border and making it big in El Norte?
Meanwhile, the issue is getting bigger and bigger on American television. Trump & the Republicans are dominating the conversation, the Democrats are feckless as usual, and it looks like the wrong team just might win. Chingaso!
You have an idea: What if we just block the press from accessing the caravan? The Americans wouldn’t take too kindly to your people manhandling Fox News reporters, and who knows how Trump might respond, so that’s off the table. But what if we could move the caravan out of reach of the Americans. Hmm.
Now, this being Mexico and all, you come up with a plan: You call up Veracruz’s most powerful political donors narcotics traffickers and see if they’d be willing to promise safe passage to the caravan while promising maximum danger for everyone else. You tell the narcos: from now until November 6th, it’s open season on Fox News. You can’t kill ‘em, but you better fucking scare the shit out of those gringo cabrones. Maybe you call in a favor. Maybe you twist an arm. Spread the word, folks.
Then, with this promise secured, you approach the caravan’s organizers, who by now are themselves aware of how badly this is playing in the American press, and you offer them the promise of safe passage. You explain the deal you cut with the narcos. This being latin America, no one is alarmed and everyone agrees it’s actually a smart plan.
No formal coordination is required. No visual evidence is created.
Which brings us to today.
The refugee caravan is now heading to Veracruz. They’re not there yet. Regardless, the caravan’s leadership––so much as they grok what we do––is interested in playing ball with Guerrilla Capital. But we’ve got a little problem: our local fixers are saying that Veracruz is no go zone. Not gonna happen, guys. We don’t want to get killed.
Ergot, we decided to postpone the trip. Internally, we’ve set a tentative target date of the weekend after Thanksgiving, November 23 – 25, but we’ll confirm that as we get closer. The caravan is a moving target, after all. Pushing the date back 3 weeks means that the caravan will be well out of Veracruz and within a short drive of Mexico City. This has the triple benefit of being a lot safer, a lot cheaper and much easier to organize.
What do you think of my conspiracy theory? Am I full of shit? Missing some radically basic point? Tell me.
*Actually, let’s call this what it really is: a wild ass guess based on mildly-informed speculation and circumstantial evidence.
Matt Mireles is the founder of Guerrilla Capital and a self-made technology entrepreneur/investor. He is the co-founder of Dishcraft Robotics and a former New York Times reporter who got his start as a 911 paramedic in the Bronx.
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