conclusion
THE AFTERLIVES OF THE INDIO BÁRBARO
On May 2, 2011, U.S. Navy Seal Team 6 killed Osama bin Laden during a raid
on his family compound in Abbottabad, Pakistan. The Seal Team leader in-
formed President Obama about the success of the mission with the phrase
“For God and Country, Geronimo, Geronimo, Geronimo.” After a moment’s
pause, he clarified “Geronimo ekia,” meaning “Geronimo, Enemy Killed in
Action.” Despite military claims to the contrary, it remains unclear whether
“Geronimo” was shorthand for the mission (official code name “Operation
Neptune Spear”), for bin Laden (official codename “Jackpot”), or for the act
of killing bin Laden. What remains clear is that the name linked Osama bin
Laden’s evasion of the U.S. military and intelligence communities for ten years
at the beginning of the twenty- first century with the Apache leader’s evasion
of the U.S. and Mexican militaries for ten years at the end of the nineteenth.
Though separated by more than a century of U.S. global warfare, Geronimo
and bin Laden were linked as terrorists in this communication, which also
linked the Christian God and the nation. Bin Laden and Geronimo were
savvy and resourceful, perhaps even brave, but ultimately they were beaten
(and conjoined) as “terrorists” in the nation’s military memory and pop u lar
imagination.
One week later, on May 9, 2011, tens of thousands of demonstrators filled
Mexico City’s Zócalo to welcome the “March for Peace with Justice and
Dignity,” arriving after a five- day journey on foot from Cuernavaca, Morelos.
Those marching were the families and friends of the victims claimed by Mex-
ico’s drug war. The demonstrators demanded an end to impunity and justice
for their dead, but their chief demand was for then President Felipe Calde-
rón to end his misbegotten policy of war against the drug cartels and instead
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