In these days of mass communication, smiling when you see a camera aimed at you can be considered a natural gesture. But since you are not former Veracruz Gov. Javier Duarte de Ochoa arrested last Saturday in the Guatemalan Lake Atitlán tourist resort, then you can get away with your smile.
Duarte’s smile, however, offended a whole nation.
As Mr. Duarte was being nabbed by Guatemalan and Interpol agents on a request by Mexico’s Attorney General’s Office (PGR) a photographer came close to him and what did he do? Peel his teeth to the brim in what’s become the smile that may even bring down President Enrique Peña Nieto’s Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI) in upcoming elections.
Not offending the dubitable Mexican concept of “due process” and “guilty until proven so,” the case of Javier Duarte de Ochoa is one in which the people of the state of Veracruz on the Gulf of Mexico have already tried and condemned him as the worst thief in Mexico since Herman Cortés stepped on land to conquer, sack and plunder the land of the True Cross, which is what Veracruz means in old Spanish language.
Was Duarte, a skilled politician, smiling at the cameras? He had nothing to smile about at that moment, as he was being arrested for being what everyone by now in Mexico knows as a thieving scoundrel as well as a MF and SOB.
But was it the smile of a cynic, as many past politicians have wielded, admitting that they may spend a couple of years in the slammer? Or was it a pathological gesture of the nervousness of a culprit who knows he’s been nabbed?
I’ve spoken to several experts — a psychiatrist and a couple of psychologists — asking them as to what they made of Duarte’s smile as seen in a photo after his arrest. They saw the smile differently from what I did as I saw him as a mocking laughter at everyone’s face.
The shrink though he was just plain nervous of his arrest and he could do nothing else but do what politicians in distress do, smile as if they were while in campaign.
The psychologist, however, told me that Duarte’s smile was not an act of cynicism, but the gesture of a “borderline” criminal who knew he’d been caught by police and claim that charges against him are not true. “It’s like saying: I’m innocent.”
In the Mexican press, Duarte’s widely publicized smile was widely commented but I know nobody could interpret it correctly. What was this former personal friend of President Enrique Peña Nieto smiling about? Most pundits thought this was an act of face cleansing by Peña Nieto who has the very vulnerable infamy of being the protector of crooked state governors.
Truth be said, Javier Duarte was not smiling when a Guatemalan judge read to him the long list of charges Mexico’s PGR filed against him.
Personally, I smiled because the so-called Guatemalan court was staging a mock trial as Duarte had breached that nation’s immigration laws, as he and his wife entered with bogus visas and passport. In the United States and Mexico, you get deported to your country of origin without a trial. By the way, they do that in Guatemala too.
The whole procedure in the Guatemala City court was a laughable event but being the cynic that I am, I say that the Guatemalan authorities knew they had a fat cat in their hands and what did they do?
Smile, the international press is watching you.
As for the culprit, Javier Duarte, he’s not smiling now that the Mexican law book has been thrown at him.