Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Armored clothing may prove to be fashion rage with Mexican office seekers in 2012

Dressed in these duds, any politician will be able to say, "come on, make my day"

Armored vehicles and private security details have been popular in Mexico's larger cities and crime-ridden areas for some time, provided a prospective client is wealthy enough to afford them. Interested parties commonly are rich business executives and politicians. Now "armored clothing" has become a hot item as well, and one establishment is betting that business will soar in this election year.

Mexico City is home to a unique specialty store known as Miguel Caballero (Michael the Gentleman), which manufactures and sells bullet-proof clothing for the "discerning" political candidate - and for his or her escoltas, or bodyguards, as well. Fashion options include sweaters, jackets, undershirts and vests. They come in two grades of protection: "soft" and "hard."

Soft is recommended for the candidate him/herself. This grade is guaranteed to provide 100% protection from handgun fire, including the quite common .38 caliber and .9mm rounds, as well as the devastating .44 magnum round (made famous by Clint Eastwood in his epic 1973 Magnum Force). Yet garments of this grade are purportedly comfortable enough to wear for extended periods, so as not to tire out the candidate while in receiving lines, smiling for photographs, shaking hands and kissing babies.

The candidate's security detail will probably favor the heavier "hard" grade, usually sold in a garment which most resembles a photographer's camera vest. That item is designed even to stop a burst of fire from the ubiquitous cuernos de chivo, or "goat horns," carried by virtually every cartel hit squad and most drug traffickers. If you're wondering what "goat horns" are, the rest of the world calls it an AK-47. The name comes from the distinctive magazine shape. A sales manager for Caballero points out that since one's bodyguards form the outer defense perimeter, they must be "prepared to take the higher caliber fire."

Miguel Caballero's clothing line is not cheap. Prices range from $2,000-$4,500 per item - that's U.S. dollars, not pesos. But they promise that all of their merchandise has been thoroughly field tested in Colombia, which is like saying a motor vehicle was field tested in the Baja 500. If a bullet-proof garment can survive Colombia's drug wars, it can survive Mexico's. They also claim their entire selection bears the seal of approval of the U.S. National Institute of Justice, which apparently warrants American made bullet- proof wear. Everything is made by a "secret process," and carries a five year warranty. If they find out you sold any of their items to organized crime, they'll report you.

The best part of buying from Miguel Caballero? They maintain a "survivor's website," where victims of attempted sicario hits can record the harrowing details of how their lives were miraculously spared by beautiful, stylish duds from Miguel Caballero Clothiers.

Jan 4: Campaigning today, PRD candidate Andrés Manuel López Obrador said that he will have no security detail with him as he travels about Mexico in the months ahead. "He who fights for justice has nothing to fear," said the popular leftist. Of course, there might be a few who disagree with that.

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