OPINION

Geraldo Rivera: Chapo's escape leaves Mexicans feeling hopeless, humiliated

This photo shows the shower area and opening to a tunnel, where authorities claim drug lord Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzman, slipped into the tunnel to escape from his prison cell, at the Altiplano maximum security prison, in Almoloya, west of Mexico City, Wednesday, July 15, 2015. Experts have said the tunnel would have been more than a year in planning and building. The digging would have caused noise. The entrance was in a place beyond the view of security cameras at Mexico's toughest prison. They also said it was clear the escape by Mexico's most powerful drug lord must have involved inside help on a grand scale. (AP Photo/Eduardo Verdugo)

This photo shows the shower area and opening to a tunnel, where authorities claim drug lord Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzman, slipped into the tunnel to escape from his prison cell, at the Altiplano maximum security prison, in Almoloya, west of Mexico City, Wednesday, July 15, 2015. Experts have said the tunnel would have been more than a year in planning and building. The digging would have caused noise. The entrance was in a place beyond the view of security cameras at Mexico's toughest prison. They also said it was clear the escape by Mexico's most powerful drug lord must have involved inside help on a grand scale. (AP Photo/Eduardo Verdugo)

It has been a fascinating and troubling few days in Mexico, spent mostly at Altiplano Prison, scene of history's greatest prison break by billionaire drug lord El Chapo, the notorious ruthless crime kingpin who had escaped before.

The entire power structure of this troubled nation has been rattled, humiliated and destabilized by questions of how El Chapo managed his extraordinary breakout, which required such intense effort over at least a year and obvious engineering expertise.

Mexico City, the capital, is tense and angry. With the Mexican president out of the country on a state visit to France, there is a feeling that the government is helplessly inept and hopelessly corrupt.

- Geraldo Rivera

After initial statements indicating Mexico would allow broad U.S. help in recapturing El Chapo, assets like drones and extra marshals, now there seems to be a reluctance. Why?

The billionaire drug lord is facing potential death penalty charges in six U.S. federal courts on charges ranging from murder to drug trafficking to money laundering.

I wonder if we want him more than Mexico.

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Maybe Mexican authorities don't want him to be recaptured. After seeing the vast scale of the escape tunnel used by El Chapo, there is no way that enormous project was a secret to all.

Two thousand tons of dirt removed, lights, a rail and air conditioning installed. A big house built on a remote hill to shield the year-long project and provide a place to remove those mountains of dirt. It would have taken four men working ten hours a day one year to complete the dig.

And no neighbors ever stopped by to inquire?

That's about as believable as bin Laden living a mile from Pakistan's West Point all those years undetected with nobody knowing anything.

Mexico City, the capital, is tense and angry. With the Mexican president out of the country on a state visit to France, there is a feeling that the government is helplessly inept and hopelessly corrupt.

From here in the capital, every newspaper is blaming that malignant corruption for the great escape. No way, the feeling goes, that prison officials at the highest level were not involved.

Think about it. This notorious drug kingpin, who had escaped before, managed to gain his freedom by walking or riding through a mile-long tunnel that was not only lighted and air conditioned, but managed to land directly under the one tiny spot in El Chapo's cell that the surveillance camera could not see.

It was an audacious, remarkable engineering achievement. And it must have required a huge bucket of bribes to buy a substantial supporting cast. How could no authority notice the enormous amounts of dirt dug out of a three-storey deep, mile-long tunnel?

Now dysfunctional Mexico, which was already in crisis because of bloodshed, drug gangs and endemic corruption, has to face the fact that officials at the highest levels probably conspired with Public Enemy Number One to humiliate their own country. They are also guilty of helping foster the view from the United States that this is a dangerous deadly place that should be walled off. Qué lástima.

Geraldo Rivera currently serves as a roaming correspondent-at-large for Fox News Channel. He joined the network in 2001 as a war correspondent.

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