10 Things Everyone Needs to Know About the Drug War Violence in Mexico
We need this list. In order to do anything, we need to know certain things, and our implication in them. But first, it is important to clarify that there's a lot more to Mexico than violence. Yes, it is in desperate need of a course reversal, but it would be problematic to construct it as a place that needs rescuing. Rather, we must think of it as a place with much cultural and ecological diversity and beauty, with much to offer the world. And like any other place, it is a place that deserves dignity and peace.
So, I think the question shouldn't be between, "Poor Mexico, when will the international community save it?" and "Damned neo-imperialism; won't they ever leave Mexico alone?" Rather, I think the point is to show that we are in the worst possible limbo somewhere in between, where:
(1) The Mexican and U.S. tax payers pay billions of dollars for the drug war, mainly to military contractors, to no avail and creating no improvement for either country’s national security. As Musa al-Gharbi wrote for Al Jazeera:
“In 2013 drug cartels murdered more than 16,000 people in Mexico alone, and another 60,000 from 2006 to 2012 — a rate of more than one killing every half hour for the last seven years. What is worse, these are estimates from the Mexican government, which is known to deflate the actual death toll by about 50 percent.”
(2) The U.S. military and intelligence collaborates with and empowers a corrupt narco-state in Mexico.
(3) The DEA collaborated with the Sinaloa Cartel, providing them with support such as visas and legal access to move drugs into the U.S., including inside of a cocaine-packed 747 cargo plane, in exchange for "intel” on the other cartels.
(4) The CIA distributed U.S. weapons to cartels (allegedly to "track" the guns, although it is believed this is meant to help it fight the rogue and ruthless Zetas cartel, which was started by former members of the Mexican army’s special forces also trained in counterinsurgency tactics by the U.S. army in Fort Bragg, Georgia).
(5) Corruption is not only in the public sector: even the giant Walmart allegedly bribed its way through the Mexican bureaucracy. Meanwhile, the world’s big banks help launder money for the cartels, who rack in profits to the tune of more than $40b each year.
(6) With that kind of money, the narcos can, and do, purchase police chiefs, entire departments, and higher levels of the state—both within Mexico and increasingly, in cities across the U.S. (not to mention, in scores of other countries: the narcos have at least attempted to infiltrate crime webs in places including Peru and Australia).
(7) The Mexican government does not prosecute more than 93.8% of reported crimes (perhaps because it is difficult to find a politician, at any level of government, in any part of the country, who is not in deep collusion with organized crime or at least with big business).
(8) And while the population gets scared to death at incessant violence, the state pushes the structural and economic reforms to open the country for business, such as removing protections and standards, as well as using the armed forces and other thugs to silence resistance.
(10) And finally: there's a lot that people in both Mexico and the US can do:
- When elections come around, make sure your would-be representatives know that your vote will be strictly conditioned on their concrete actions to pressure for a change (for example, through aid, trade, and diplomatic sanctions, etc.).
- Organize collectively, wherever you are: talk to your neighbors, set up events, hold vigils and rallies, attend information sessions, gather speakers, host potlucks and letter-writing campaigns, distribute leaflets with calls to action, visit your government representatives, etc.
- Boycott companies that benefit from the ongoing violence.
- Share news and information about it to keep people engaged and organized.
What else do you think we can do? Please feel free to comment and share this.