The thousand faces of the violence that besieges Mexico

Members of the state police next to the coffin of a colleague killed by organized crime in Zacatecas, on August 26, 2021.
Members of the state police next to the coffin of a colleague killed by organized crime in Zacatecas, on August 26, 2021.TERESA DE MIGUEL

Two local police officers surprised during a patrol, two municipal delegates, the wife of one of them, three young people who were in an informal fireworks market, six other people in different attacks. All were executed between Tuesday and Wednesday in the state of Zacatecas, 14 murders with firearms in less than 24 hours. On Tuesday night the horror had no limits in a community of Silao, in Guanajuato. Some hitmen entered two houses and perpetrated a massacre: at least eight homicides, including those of a baby and a teenage girl. Early Wednesday morning, an 11-year-old girl, the daughter of the mayor of a rural municipality in Veracruz, was raped and murdered. This is only a partial review of the last week of 2021, the last week of violence in Mexico, like any other of this year, of the previous and previous ones.

The horror behind the numbers, more than 105,000 murders in the first half of Andrés Manuel López Obrador’s term, is the snapshot of a terrible routine where there are still bubbles, on the one hand, and hells, on the other. Two countries, two relationships with life and the presence of death, and radically different perceptions of security. The first conclusion, practically unanimous among experts and policy makers, is that the strategy has failed and continues to collide with reality. Not only that of the current president and his team, but also of previous ones, at least since the Felipe Calderón Administration (2006-2012) and his war against drug trafficking.

The Chief Executive launched a reflection in his end-of-year message on Friday, disarming due to its simplicity, applicable to any aspect of public life: “You have to think that only by being good can we be happy and that happiness is not material. “, he claimed. These words are in line, among other things, also with his idea of ​​fighting organized crime, what he has so often called “hugs, not bullets.” The Ministry of Foreign Relations has always insisted that the avalanche of arrests of the 120 most prominent drug lords during the past six-year term of Enrique Peña Nieto was of very little use, including the latest capture of Joaquín El Chapo Guzmán and his extradition to the United States. United. The Sinaloa cartel has lost ground to the so-called Jalisco Nueva Generación Cartel, but this has given rise to a new war between criminal organizations, in which new groups from the Morelos and Guerrero mountains also participate, which is one of the germs of the violence suffered by thousands of civilians.

To this is also added a phenomenon of recycling violence. If seizures of fentanyl, a synthetic opioid, have soared 525% this year, the cartels exploit all illegal economies, from arms trafficking to human trafficking, other hot spots of violence. To fight on both fronts, Mexico considers the involvement of the United States crucial. In August he filed a lawsuit against 11 arms producing companies before a Massachusetts State court for understanding that “their manufacturing, distribution, advertising and sale practices attract criminal groups.” The dimension is worrying. About 200,000 firearms enter Mexico illegally each year, according to official estimates. And at the same time, migration policies have become a central piece in designing a security strategy against trafficking mafias.

What happened three weeks ago in Chiapas, near Tuxtla Gutiérrez, is the umpteenth reflection of a structural tragedy. The accident of a trailer in which more than 150 people were traveling crowded left almost 60 dead. The vehicle had passed through a National Migration Institute checkpoint and was transporting mostly refugees from Guatemala, Honduras, the Dominican Republic and Ecuador seeking to reach Houston, Texas. And what happened is also, ultimately, part of a network of violence in a country where there are more than 90,000 missing persons. At the end of September, the National Search Commission located in the Sierra de Nuevo Laredo, a few kilometers from Texas, an extermination center with crematoriums and graves.

On paper, all authorities agree with the obvious, that this situation must be reversed. But in practice no government has succeeded. Hugs and no bullets means that it may not be effective to use all available military force to subdue the drug trafficker. But the other side of the coin is inaction, for which López Obrador has received a host of criticism. Mexico and the United States are fine-tuning a security program, dubbed the Bicentennial Understanding in reference to 200 years of independence, which also represents a declaration of good intentions for the relationship between both Administrations. During Donald Trump’s tenure, the White House’s interest was focused on repelling migrants, without much else. With the arrival of Joe Biden a year ago there have been several agreements that sound more ambitious but it is still difficult to anticipate their scope, especially without clarity regarding investments.

The Bicentennial Understanding, which buries a millionaire plan from the time of George W. Bush called the Merida Initiative, proposes intervening in the territory, in the most vulnerable communities, emphasizing the prevention of consumption and the offer of opportunities. Ultimately, development and more well-being in the face of illegal plots. Structural violence is one of the effects of misery and that is clear in the program. Meanwhile, the claims to the Mexican president have to do mainly with the management of the armed forces in the face of crime when, in addition, voices of alarm proliferate over the militarization of sectors such as infrastructure and even health.

Weeks ago, the government of Joe Biden, concerned about the worst opioid epidemic in recent years in the United States, offered a reward of up to five million dollars for relevant information that leads to the arrest or conviction of four children of El Chapo . The president has also signed an executive order that updates the sanctions against the heirs of Guzmán and other leaders of that criminal organization, in addition to the Jalisco Nueva Generación Cartel, the Gulf Cartel, the Beltrán Leyva, the Zetas and the groups that control trafficking. illegal in northern Mexico. But López Obrador replied saying that it is up to Mexico to arrest the sons of the bloodthirsty founder of the Sinaloa cartel. “No foreign force is allowed to act in this matter or in any other, we are what we have to do our job in accordance with the investigations that are being carried out in Mexico,” he settled.

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George Holan

George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.

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