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The illusion of safety in Los Angeles

The illusion of safety in Los Angeles
By Patrick Osio, Jr./HispanicVista.com    January 2010

The illusion of safety in Los AngelesBy Patrick Osio

For Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa 2010 is to be a year dedicated to attracting businesses and creating jobs so he called a meeting with the leading business leaders of the community. He told them that it is now safe for people to walk the streets of downtown Los Angeles, “We can sell this,” he told them. Not an easy sell since Los Angeles is informally known as the “Gang Capital of the Nation,” and is listed as one of the most dangerous cities in the world.

The Los Angeles Times’ headquarters has been a part of downtown Los Angeles since early last century, seems content to sell the “it’s safe” idea by downplaying the danger to downtown workers and visitors while dramatizing dangers in other regions.

Did the Times dedicate meaningful space when Los Angeles was listed as one of the most dangerous cities in the nation?  Consider that murder is 1.75 times the national average; forcible rape is barely below the national average and that all violent crime is over 2 times the national average.  Or how extensively has the Times reported that there are over 300,000 drug users in their home region? That’s close to 10 percent of the city’s population.  

Ah, but crime is down authorities say – why in 2009 violent crimes were only 11,617; murders were only 198; rapes were a measly 485; robberies a low of only 6,256; assaults 6,047; and car thefts only 11,105.  This is only for Los Angles not the cities surrounding L.A.; they have their own “look at us” our crime is down figures. Tell that to the victims, but not to the general public lest they become fearful of leaving their homes or worse, demand better protection (and better reporting from the leading newspaper).

But the mayor says – “It’s safe, we can sell this.”  I think he means we can “hide this” by having one of the biggest, and at one time most respected, newspapers in the nation divert attention by reporting on crime and how unsafe it is somewhere other than Los Angeles, but the chosen place has to be near and unable to fight back.

Welcome to the ready made – let’s pick on Mexico – and why not? Politicians have gotten really good at this. We have economic problems, blame Mexicans. There is unemployment, why we all know it’s those Mexicans taking the jobs. There is corruption – not here, it’s got to be in Mexico.

I am not suggesting the L.A. Times and the LA mayor are in cahoots in this hiding process. No, the Times has its own agenda – readership is down, revenues at an all time low. Readership has to increase to bring revenues back. So what is needed is a ready made, easy to dramatize news with little fear that the reports will be challenged for their inaccuracies, over dramatization and continually repeating and rehashing same news each time with some new element.

Mexico’s war on drugs has become the Time’s ready made issue to dramatize. And so they did, creating the Mexico Under Siege series of articles – still ongoing and occupying good space in their web site as well, with of course, advertising.

But in all their reporting on how Mexico is fighting drug cartels to keep illicit drugs away from the U.S. whose users are a great percentage of our young, and at the same time fighting to keep drugs from their own citizens – has the Times dedicated meaningful space to that story? – the Mexican people’s sacrifice, the high cost and above all, the root cause for that war being the high usage by Americans who feed the underworld with over 30 billion dollars a year. Money which they use to hire assassins, buy the latest and deadliest weapons mostly from the US, bribe officials in Mexico and the U.S.

Has the Times considered running a “California’s Illicit Drug Use Epidemic” series? Gosh no, that would not bring readership – no one wants to read about one’s own sins. There is no fun or profit in that.

Reporting on all the killings in Baja California, have any of the Times’ reports said how many of those homicides are gang-killing-gang members? No, because so doing would expose that over 95 percent of the Baja homicides are such.

But it will make hay out of one rape to an American woman no matter how far from any of the Baja major cities – without mention that the incidence of such crime against Americans is insignificant in comparison with the number of visitors. Nor will it mention that the number of American women raped in Los Angeles is epidemic in comparison; or that any of the other crimes against Americans in Los Angeles are hugely more than in Baja; or that Americans are actually safer in Baja than in Los Angeles.

No of course not, instead, simply make Baja look bad, kill its tourism industry and let them keep fighting the good fight – but one cannot help but wonder given the high usage of drugs in Los Angeles – does anyone there want Mexicoto win?

Patrick Osio is the Editor of HispanicVista.com and Vice President of the Baja California Medical Tourism Association. Contact at POsioJr@aol.comor at Posio@aol.com

Patrick Osio, Jr. has written a short but intensive manual on the Mexican perspective on numerous issues between our two countries. The manual is an in depth primer on the culture and protocol for better understanding Mexicans that in turn allows establishing personal and business relationships, and how to avoid the most common faux pas that can ruin relationships and business deals. 

For information on purchasing, write to HVCstore@aol.com

Published Tuesday, January 26, 2010 12:18 PM by Kanoa Biondolillo
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