A Rabbit Hole Within a Rabbit Hole

Rabbits are pretty smart little guys. They burrow, creating a system of tunnels having nesting areas, running areas, and emergency exits. If they colonize and link up their tunnels, then the “Rabbit Holes” become what is called a “Warren.”

And apparently, I stumbled into one of these Warrens as I was attempting to write about a different Rabbit Hole related to my recent days along the Southern Border, and then I remembered another experience I had below that border, and my fingers took off across the Keyboards telling that story.

So let’s travel back in n time about, oh say, forty-three years or so . . .

“We” had been touring several Latin American countries to research their agricultural methods as opposed to those we use in the United States.  Mexico was the last stop on our tour, and little did I know, a different sort of side-trip or diversion, cognitively, physically, and metaphysically, was about to unfold.

The “We” were a group of about twenty-five students enrolled in an Agricultural Travel Course organized by the University “We” attended.  The “Curriculum,” was completely structured as to the countries we would visit, the ranches and farmland we would surveil, and totally orchestrated to see only the “good” side of the State- or Privately-owned haciendas (estates or plantations) and casa de labranzas (houses of farming). 

Mexico came after Puerto Rico, Venezuela, Panama, and Costa Rica.  And the entire trip had been carefully choreographed.  The year was 1977, and the only hatred overtly directed at us Americans came in Panama, where people would openly approach us and cuss us out in Spanish, which only a few of “Us” understood, and then spit at us.

Once alerted by our Spanish-speaking members and the spitballs, “We” reciprocated by cussing them out in Vietnamese, which they obviously didn’t understand, and from which we had just learned from another of our traveling companions. 

Equilibrium restored.

This day, in Mexico, was going to be a totally “State-Controlled” affair, with a couple of government “escorts” to be sure the proper blinders were in place.  “We” were not supposed to see the smack-you-in-the-face abject poverty of most of the country in comparison to the powerful and ultra-wealthy.  Even the identifications of the labranza houses and plantations were to be obscured, no pictures were allowed to be taken, and access was denied to any interior operation in the name of maintaining “sanitation.” 

Kind of funny.  None of the other countries was near as brazen.  Not even Venezuela.  Although we saw many in military fatigues carrying submachine guns there, no spoken massages about behaving needed to be uttered. But nothing was hidden from our sight there either.  Including the mountain dwellers, living in their piles of rotting garbage. The lowest class of the lowest class lived at the bottom of the mountainside where the worst of the refuse would collect.

Ah, but I’m sliding down another side shaft. Hello Bunny !

Back in Mexico, I was about to be pulled into the one giant hiccup in this State-run Operation.  The Son of one of the “Politician Monitors” accompanying us was allowed to come along, and allowed to drive his own vehicle.  In contrast, “We” were loaded onto a single bus with a headcount taken as we boarded.  But the Son invited me to ride along in his car trailing the bus.  All heads turned with stoic gazes, but no one said anything as I seized the opportunity to ride along with maybe a less biased narrator. 

And less biased he was – at least towards the government’s machinations.  But another cultural blinder was painfully made evident. 

You see, he was willing to tell me all about the conditions of poverty in his country, and all about the “land reforms” that were going on.  But, as you shall see, there was one area of discussion where he clearly regurgitated the state’s brainwashing in no uncertain terms. 

I was illuminated about how the giant Haciendas were broken up and the land redistributed.  The so-called “land reform.”  The monstrous catch was, the land was only very limitedly given to ordinary people, and when it was, it was distributed as “Ejidos” – common property for cooperative land tenure.

No, virtually all of the large estates went to military officers, politicians and others that were owed kickbacks for supporting certain politicians – either locally or nationally.  This may have even included a few Drug Lords [wink, wink], which explains why “We” weren’t allowed in a “major” pig processing plant, that was strangely missing any sight or scent of a hog, but had a lot of colorful pigs painted on warehouse-sized buildings and semi-trucks. 

Later in the day, as “We” moved on to yet another restricted Hacienda, passing many La Granjas (small farms) and el Ranchos (for horses and cows) whose deteriorating state was painfully obvious.  It wasn’t long before “We” came upon a nice brand-new, US-owned, farm implement company.  There were literally acres of tractors, combines, strippers, rollers, spreaders, and harvesters.  And all of the various attachments you could imagine.  Augers, lifters, loaders, conveyers, choppers, blowers, and tillers.  A sea of powder-coated, shiny green, orange, blue, yellow, and red steel implements contrasting the scorched, brown and gray ground upon which they all sat.

And where they would remain. 

My companion explained that this was all for show.  Part of Mexico’s dealings with the US to allow more agribusiness exchanges.  But the truth of the matter was that if Mexico actually mechanized farming almost everyone would be put out of work.  The economy, at least the 1977 economy, in Mexico was still based on hand labor. 

While I was enjoying the discussion and getting to the truisms of the politics, economics, class structure, and lifestyle of the populous, I finally found an opportunity to ask him the question that was burning on my brain.  So tell me Antonio, “how many Native or Indigenous Tribes are around here and in the country generally.” 

He looked surprised and stared blankly, almost angrily, at me for a moment and replied, “There are no Indians in my country.”

Now this was shocking for me as I knew better and I was hoping to gain some more insider perspective.  But it appears the education system in Mexico is in complete denial of the Indigenous roots of its country.  Maybe that is not such a shock considering the massive genocide that took place there. 

It’s estimated that some twenty-five million Indians, Indigenous First Nation’s People, lived in Meso-America and the Caribbean at the time when the Spanish arrived.  It’s also estimated that between 80 and 95 percent of these peoples were wiped out in the 100 plus years following Columbus’s getting lost at sea and crashing into Bahamas. The genocide perpetrated by the European “gifted” epidemics of Smallpox, Typhus, Measles, Influenza, Bubonic Plague, Cholera, Malaria, Tuberculosis, Mumps, Yellow Fever, and Pertussis. 

A number of regions in the Americas lost 100% of the Native population.

There has been, fortunately, a resurgence and recognition of the Indigenous, who have regained a population of approximately of 25 million making up 21% of the total population of Modernity’s “Melting Pot” of Mexico today.  In fact, “The Law of Linguistic Rights of the Indigenous Languages recognizes 62 Indigenous Languages as ‘national languages’ which have the same validity as Spanish in all territories [in Mexico] where they are spoken.”

I have no idea what the populations of the Indigenous looked like in 1977, but I’m sure it was a bit above being zero, as I was told by Antonio on our car drive. 

It was a fateful experience to meet up with Antonio.  And he provided some amazing insight into the closed-door, orchestrated, propagandized version of Mexico that “We” were supposed to see.  And while I was enjoying the discussion and getting to the truisms of land reform and farming in Mexico, I wondered what might befall me for having jumped in that car.

I was greeted by angry eyes when I rejoined the rest of “We” on that bus.

Thankfully, and strange as it was, I only received a small debriefing. 

Humm, I might have just forgotten that part of being told not to share what I had learned. 😊

In Metta

Photo: I actually was being pretty sneaky to get this shot. It totally captures what I was telling you about how we were not allowed to see what was really happening at these “farms.”

References: I have to confess, I did rely on Wikipedia for some of the numbers above. I know it is not the best resource, but at least they do site their references for this data.

BTW, The word “Warren,” used to describe a network of rabbit tunnels, was derived from the medieval Anglo-Norman usage of “free warren” that was a hunting license for a particular area. “Domestic Warrens” are enclosed animal feeding operations for raising rabbits for meat and fur.

Wiki gives us this for the actual word derivation: “Modern English warrenME warrene, warreineONF warrenneGermanic present participle of *warian “to take care; to cause to care (for)” ← causative of *waran “to care” ← *war “care”. Doublet of guarantor. Related to OHG werien (i.e. *wärian) “to defend, protect”, and also to English “‘a-ware, wary'”. “

17 thoughts on “A Rabbit Hole Within a Rabbit Hole”

  1. What came to mind as I was reading your interesting tale of exposure — was how remarkably desensitized we’ve now become to government corruption, greed and propaganda as a whole. Back in the 70’s, as your story dated, this must have been a somewhat shocking revolution and rightfully so. Yet today, these conditions of corrupt control and public indifference in foreign countries, seem trivial, almost accepted.

    Perhaps ironic, that today if you travel through the warrens of your long ago trip down the rabbit hole in these foreign countries — you may find that they extend across the globe. Reaching even here at home. A rogue leader, seeking control by any means, including the attempted coupe of the U.S. Capitol. The political corruption that we thought of as only in other countries — now long arrived in America.

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    1. You nailed it Wayne. Our rogue “leader” began with a master plan of first discrediting the media, and then provoking outrage with racist and world isolationist policies. So much outrage was shoveled at us daily that people burned out and the corruption has been normalized, and by some accepted. It took a falsely generated fear of voter fraud to mobilize that couple. Over 26,000 lies were peddled to the American public, all the while the administration raided the Treasury and handed the country over to the corporations. And half the country still refuses to admit they were conned

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  2. Nothing is as it appears to be, and most often we are presented with a version of the truth, or outright lies. What an amazing story, your were treated with an unmasking, and a revelation because you “seized the opportunity!” Thanks for sharing your adventure! C

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  3. Harold,
    I have camped on that river, back in my school days, trying out my geology by looking for lost mines to the south, in the wilds of Mexico. That part of Mexico was cut off from the rest of the country, so the only way in or out was north, across the Rio Grande.
    I came upon a “rabbit hole” with an indigenous family of four living in the mouth of an abandoned mine there. Their only hard currency came from harvesting the candelilla wax plant for the wax and selling agate stones to tourist in Big Bend. I gave them what food I had in my backpack and still think about those two kids they had, wondering what their future has been.
    Therefore I was surprised to see this, coming from you, who are so very observant of life as well as the land, to me it appeared a negative opinion of the people in the place where you were considered a “guest”. I spent many years of my life living in the very same places you speak of, in times much worse than you found. In most cases it can be reduced to the attitude and greed of the Ugly American Elitist, and class subjugation.
    Yes there are such things still, all over the world, where a stupid man can convince the less informed or ignorant that their life is less than great, with the slogan “Make ??? Great Again”, even to the point of convincing them to invade their own government to “change things”, just to be replaced by a Despot, Yes I have seen this myself in several other countries, in most cases they becoming Socialist, Communists, or a Dictatorship, but I never dreamed it could happen here~!
    So in your case, you had the elitist overlords of Mexico telling you about all the fine things happening, such as a pork factory (possibly only cooking dope) to be exported to the most economic and willing market,,, the United States. You saw farm equipment sitting idle, due to the fact that the government knew that if they put these units, which were put there by an American Company, they would be used to put the working class out of the only work they knew, and in turn those agrarian workers would end up in the towns looking for work, that did not exist for them. Leaving them living in huddles or “warren”, building great hills of garbage. And then, above that, you had an “upper class KID” feeding you information, which he was “parroting”, from what he thought was the true, right way of life. So which of these was worse~?
    I am not innocent at all, the countries I worked in were just as you tell us they were, if that is the only thing you can see~!. In Panama and Costa Rica, I contracted with United Fruit Company, which would soon to be on the skids, due to the workers forming unions, thus while doing away with their Corporatocracy and Plutocracy they also did away with a “Banana Republic”, replacing it with a dictatorship which was worse, thus destroying their livelihood, and moving them into towns trying to make a living; and thus living on those piles of trash, you speak of as “Rabbit warrens”.
    By the way we were prospecting for oil because the United Fruit Company could see that the days of the “Banana Republic” were numbered, and they were looking for other ways to supplement and save their company.
    Because of the fact that I was involved primarily in the petroleum and mining industry, I am guilty of some to this, and think, sadly, about my guilt every day. But I also remember the beautiful lands and the fine people who welcomed me into their land and homes willingly, hoping that I could help improve their lives, and I NEVER had anyone spit at me, or otherwise show a negative attitude toward me, except for those who were egged on to do so by a despot such as a Trump.
    My memories of Ecuador, Colombia, Venezuela, Panama, Costa Rica, Guatemala and Mexico are great. Fine lands and, even more, fine people, welcoming me into their land and into their homes~! I saw jungles cut and burned in order to grow cocaine in Bolivia, and you know where it was destined to go, where the class separation was even worse than what it had been before the US became addicted. But I also saw a beautiful proud land and beautiful people, maybe my attitude was just different, and I hope that some day the United States can return to as fine and tolerant a place, having come so close to what those people had faced in their hundreds of years of subjugation.
    I truly enjoy your posts and how you see the land. I am not putting down your post or your opinion of what you saw, because I saw it too, but what I am saying is that, as you know, there is beauty beyond the piles of trash, discontented people, and squalor. Now that we have seen the rabbit hole, tell us about the rabbits, the flowers, the trees, the lakes, the mountains and so many other things, surely you do know the reasons why so many thousands of people from the U.S.A. would prefer to be THERE, especially in these times~!
    I was caught in demonstrations several times, and in Colombia their way of “breaking it up” was to drive trucks with water cannons into the demonstrators spraying them with water, which had a dye in it, and the next few days arresting anyone who had that die on them. Once in Santa Cruz Bolivia I was caught where a demonstration had me cut off from my hotel. Several of the demonstrators came to me, took me by my arms and walked me through the burning tires, and crowd to safety. Explaining to me that they were trying to be civil in their efforts of a better life.
    In Algeria we often were informed by the Swiss Embassy, to stay indoors due to demonstrators, and once advised to have things ready in case we needed to be evacuated. The American Embassy had been burned and the United States had no official relationship with Algeria at that time.
    I was held a prisoner in Colombia for over a week, the “Bandit Chief” coming in and explaining to us that their purpose was good, and not to be foolish, making them do things not wanted (by them)~! Long stories that I must tell you about. I am Just saying: “been there done that”, but never such as I saw here last week~!
    I, by no means, consider myself an expert, but I do study a problem and like to see both sides before I speak, and even then I am sometimes wrong…
    A person might start here:
    https://www.societyandspace.org/articles/mexican-agrarian-movements-and-the-infrastructure-of-peasant-farming
    https://wiki.ubc.ca/Impact_of_the_Caste_System_in_Post-Colonial_Mexico

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    1. Thanks so much for your insights Sam ! And I should have spoken more of the beauty in these countries and the many nice people. I learned so much more about myself and my country from that experience. Learned to be grateful for all I had. Learned that Americans are spoiled in their wealth. When I was in Costa Rica we stopped, unplanned, at a farm house where the children were playing with a dead chicken. A chick that had been killed by a cat was their only toy. Yet you still see joy in these childrens’ eyes, even under such conditions. I am truly grateful you responded. I didn’t mean to sound so negative. I think I own everyone a better post. To this day, I am unsure why the Panamanians disliked us so much in the 70s – no doubt something our government did. A former brother-in-law had the completely opposite experience 10 years later. My experience in Costa Rica was nothing short of beautiful. The people were welcoming, physically geogous, and very hospitable. I will check out your links and thanks again! I apologize for my insensitivity

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    2. I should also mention that the post I’ve been working on today involves my encounter with an Indigenous Brujo and his apprentice on that same Mexico trip. .It was an wonderful experience although the reader may not be able to catch the feeling since I have to explain so much before getting tho the heart of it.

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  4. My hubby used to be a long haul trucker and drove the highways between Toronto and Texas delivering Dell computers. He often crossed the border in Texas into Mexico and the stories he tells of the poverty there is saddening. I have never been outside the country, unless I can count stepping across the line that marked the “border” at Niagara Falls. I read a lot and try to become more aware of the situations in countries around the world. I’ve read enough to recognize the “white privilege” that has guaranteed me a life of blessings – it they can be called that, coming as they did on the backs of the less fortunate.

    I think corruption is rampant all through the western world and goes much deeper than most of us suspect. It is indeed a warren of rabbit holes where darkness keeps out any light the brave and courageous attempt to shine on it. Aw, but, hasn’t it always been thus?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Sadly it always has been that way. I appreciate your comments Carol. Sam shared some great insight on this post too. I could have done a much better job presenting it. Definitely grateful for all I have and the many blessings I’ve received on this journey

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  5. You did a wonderful job, don’t sell yourself short. I love how your posts invite introspection and deeper thought than we would otherwise engage in. You are one of the brave and courageous shining a light. May it continue to shine. 🙂

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