I crossed the border to México hours after Jaoquin “El Chapo” Guzman was extradited to the U.S. and hours before Donald “The Donald” Trump was sworn in as president.
As I read the local newspaper Friday morning to brush up on my Español, I couldn’t help noticing the many parallels between my new country’s former kingpin and my old country’s incoming president.
Both men were front page news above the fold of the El Mexicano newspaper — Guzman covered the main section and Trump headlined world news. But while El Chapo’s removal from Mexico reportedly allowed many in the country to breathe a sigh of relief, The Donald’s inauguration clearly had the opposite effect in the states.
Dread, confusion and sarcasm flooded the timelines of my American friends and family as the Trumps officially replaced the Obamas
in the White House. But the more I learn about El Chapo’s reign of terror over México, the more it seems like The Donald is replacing him as the most notorious criminal in the free world.
Both know what it takes to make Forbes’ “Most Powerful People” list, but the similarities don’t stop there. Neither has let a lack of education stop them from gaining and maintaining massive amounts of power and influence. According to CNN
, El Chapo is semi-illiterate and dropped out of school before the third grade; We all already know that The Donald doesn’t like to read either.
Both men are also ruthless in dealing with rivals and detractors. Sadly, the countless murders El Chapo has ordered of his enemies will likely pale in comparison to the number of legal police executions that will be carried out under Trump. Considering some of the troubling policies his fellow Republicans are already looking to pass into law, Trump’s body count may exceed the great Ghengis Khan
‘s by 2020.
But the similarities between these two men don’t stop at their short tempers and long check books.
El Chapo and The Donald are both known for their ruthless greed and masterful skill at avoiding punishment for their many crimes. El Chapo’s now legendary escapes from multiple prisons (once in 2001, and again in 2015) are equally as impressive as Trump’s flat out refusal to answer for allegations that included fraud, tax evasion and sexual misconduct during his campaign for the presidency.
Trump’s talent for escaping consequences has been honed by decades of practice. A housing discrimination case from 1973, in which the Justice Department sued The Donald and his father Fred for refusing to rent to Black tenants, was one of the first examples of Trump’s Houdini-like ability to elude justice.
Trump bragged in a September presidential debate with Hillary Clinton
that his father’s company settled the discrimination lawsuit without any admission of guilt, insisting that they was one of many businesses being tried in a nation-wide case. But NPR reports
that the Justice Department specifically targeted the Trumps after multiple complaints. They fought the case for two years before jumping at the first settlement offer they received.
In order to avoid admitting wrongdoing, Trump agreed to take out ads in New York newspapers welcoming Black housing applicants and promising to study and uphold the Fair Housing Act. In retrospect, it’s a small price to pay compared to the $25 million settlement he rushed to make with former Trump University students who claimed he defrauded them through the private college.
El Chapo’s first escape from prison only cost him $2.5 million, which he paid to guards and supervisors who helped him sneak out in a laundry cart undetected. He stayed on the run until getting caught in 2014, but almost a year and a half after his second capture, the kingpin escaped again, after reportedly squeezing through a hole near his cell’s shower into a mile-long tunnel. The Donald might have to get just as creative to keep the multiple sexual assault allegations
against him from ending in an impeachment.
With presidential predecessors like George W. Bush
and Richard Nixon
, Trump’s superlatives weren’t easy to earn. But like El Chapo, The Donald has never been shy about playing the bad guy. In fact, both men have boasted on and off the record about their many criminal exploits and the massive fleets they use to carry them out.
After his 2015 escape, El Chapo bragged that he supplies “more heroin, methamphetamine, cocaine and marijuana than anybody else in the world.” He also claimed to have “a fleet of submarines, airplanes, trucks and boats.”
The Donald’s air fleet is also legendary; Last April, The Washington Post determined that Trump Force One was actually more impressive than the president’s official jet, Air Force One. Trump also vowed to build a 350-ship fleet to bolster America’s Navy during his campaign. Trump’s newly appointed Attorney General Jeff Sessions told the Navy Times in 2016 that the administration plans to significantly increase the amount of ships, troops and aircraft in the U.S. military’s arsenal. “It will go a lot further than words to convince the world that we remain strong,” Sessions said. “It will help us to maintain the peace.”
El Chapo’s strong fleet helped him execute federal crimes including operation of a continuing criminal enterprise, conspiring to murder rivals and money laundering. We can only speculate on the crimes Trump plans to carry out with the U.S. military’s fleet, but they should be useful tools for continuing to escape accountability for his unfulfilled campaign promises and lingering criminal cases.
U.S. officials have compared El Chapo’s “destructive and murderous rise” to “a small cancerous tumor that metastasized and grew into a full-blown scourge that for decades littered the streets of Mexico with the casualties of violent drug wars.” Newsweek painted a similar portrait
of Trump’s campaign last March after one of his early rallies grew violent at his own encouragement.
“Trump is the cancerous growth that suddenly alarms so many in the nation, Republican and Democrat alike. Do we deserve this malady? Is it somehow our fault? There must have been symptoms that we missed. There must have been preventative measures we could have taken, cures that would have worked, only it is too late now.” – Alexander Nazaryan for Newsweek
Newsweek’s Alexander Nazaryan
knew in March that it was too late to stop Trump’s cancer from overtaking America. Now, there appears to be even less hope of saving this country from reaping the fate it’s sowed throughout its young history.
Just as European settlers spread West, destroying Native communities and pillaging the natural resources, and just as American imperialism and capitalism have spread globally under the guise of Democracy, Trump manifested his presidential destiny by destroying everything in his path.
Now, impeachment appears to be the only legal form of therapy that can heal America’s Trump tumor. Not even a brave surgeon willing to perform an emergency procedure to remove him altogether would be able to reverse his confirmed cabinet appointments and troubling executive orders.
Brothers From Another
The nickname “El Chapo” translates to “shorty,” a reference to his small stature. But while Guzman measures in at just 5’6 compared to The Donald’s 6’2, Trump’s less than proportional hands, which remain a topic of delight for his detractors, should help both men empathize with one another.
Some joked last year
that The Donald helped El Chapo escape to justify his controversial statements on border security. But the massive egos that both men have developed to compensate for their physical short-comings clearly can’t co-exist on the same continent, let alone country.
El Chapo reportedly had a $100 million bounty on Trump’s head as recently as last year, following a Twitter feud that ended with Trump reporting the Mexican kingpin’s tweets FBI. Soon after, El Chapo jokingly called Trump “mi amigo” in his famous Rolling Stone interview with Sean Penn. After seeing that his nemesis was safely in custody, Trump jokingly advised authorities to house El Chapo on the fourth floor to prevent any future tunnel escapes.
Despite their sarcastic digs and tough guy posturing, it’s clear that El Chapo and The Donald would make much better friends than enemies. So when will these two knuckle heads stop butting heads and realize they have more in common with each other than with pretty much anyone else on this planet? Only time will tell. For now, I just know I’m happy to be a in place that isn’t under the jurisdiction of either.
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