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Afghanistan Next Door – Mexico Falls To A Narco Insurgency
The Biden administration has erased our southern border. Driven by a mix of crass political and economic motives, it has decided to abandon all efforts to control who and what enters our country. On the other side of the imaginary line that is our border with Mexico are a series of narco-kingdoms controlled by ultra-violent, heavily armed cartels.
It will get worse.
The drug cartels that control large portions of Mexico already have much bigger ambitions. They aim to control the nation as a whole. They intend to replace the legitimate government entirely.
In fact, a case could be made that this process is already well underway. Ever since the election of Mexican Andrés Manuel López Obrador (AMLO) in 2018, cooperation between Mexican and American law enforcement has fallen dramatically. AMLO’s official policy is “hugs not bullets,” and it is just as weak-kneed as it sounds. Increasingly, in fact, the appearance is not just of a lack of resolve but of collusion between the Mexican government and the animals flooding the United States with fentanyl and trafficking people across our border.
In 2018 AMLO ran on the platform of granting amnesty to all individuals involved in the drug war. He made the promise, pointedly enough, while campaigning in the heart of Mexico’s drug-producing Guerrero state.
Since coming to office, AMLO has remained soft on the cartels. After the cartel murder of two Jesuit priests in June 2022, he said “We believe in rehabilitation, and we do not think that people have no other destiny than to be eliminated.” In October 2021 his administration negotiated a change to the Merida Initiative under which Mexico and the United States had been working together against the cartels. The new action plan called for a “kinder, gentler” approach going forward. AMLO sent the military “back to the barracks.”
AMLO to this day refrains from criticizing the cartels publicly. He has expressed sympathy for drug kingpin El Chapo. He publicly shook hands with El Chapo’s mother and promised to help her visit her son in prison.
AMLO personally ordered the release of Ovidio Guzman, El Chapo’s son, from prison after Sinaloa Cartel gunmen took soldiers hostage and demanded Ovidio’s release. The general impression in Mexico is of extreme passivity on the part of AMLO in the face of escalating cartel violence.
Homicide rates in Mexico continue to rise. According to homicide figures from Mexico’s Interior Ministry, as of March 12, 2022, an average of 112 people had been killed every day this year. In 2021 that figure was 120. In 2020 it was 118. Since AMLO became President more than 68,000 people have disappeared, and more than 8,200 bodies have been found in mass graves since 2006.
Entire chunks of Mexican territory are now controlled by cartel forces. Mass killings occur regularly. Cartel gunmen operate openly and are heavily armed. Estimates say that at least 40% of Mexican territory is now outside the control of the government and effectively run by drug lords.
Increasingly, cartel forces show a willingness to respond to government efforts to control them with violence and mass killings. These are not reflexive actions. They are part of a deliberate strategy to challenge government authority and demonstrate that it is now the cartels who run the show.
It is not simply that the cartels operate with impunity, however. Increasingly, they are taking control over all aspects of the economy and replacing the government in running people’s lives. As with groups like Hezbollah in Lebanon or the Taliban in Afghanistan, the cartels are becoming the real rulers of the country.
“During the war [among the Sinaloa and Tijuana Cartels and their local proxies as well as smaller independent criminal groups], life was very difficult. You had to pay [extortion] to many groups. All the time, someone was showing at your door and threatening to burn down your businesses, kill your family. The prices were going up and up, just about weekly. And if one group found out you had paid their rivals, they would also threaten you and your family, even though there was no way to resist. I was considering just selling all my restaurants. But now that Sinaloa won, things are good. You need to pay just once, not weekly, only monthly, the fee has gone down, it’s all easy. They are polite. And they keep the health inspectors and government tax people who used to harass us and asked for hefty bribes away from our neck”
The cartels are not just running protection rackets, however. They are taking over all aspects of the economy. This includes completely legitimate businesses like fishing and mining. In the process, the cartels integrate with and incorporate businessmen, priests, politicians, and government officials.
All of these actors then look to the cartels rather than to Mexico City for guidance and for conflict resolution. In a fishing village in Baja California Sur, for example, after the Sinaloa Cartel moved in and monopolized local fisheries, municipal police officers started sending local people complaining about robberies to Sinaloa Cartel representatives to fix such problems.
During the spring of 2020 as the COVID pandemic swept through Mexico, the cartels began handing out petty cash, hand sanitizer, and food. Such actions are clearly designed to build support for the cartels and to encourage people to look to the cartels rather than the government for assistance.
We just watched the Biden administration cut and run and turn Afghanistan over to 6th-century barbarians. Those madmen are now providing safe haven to Al Qaida and other groups bent on our destruction. At least, though, those enemies of ours are half a world away.
We have no such solace in the case of the narco-terrorists next door. They are on our doorstep, and we are making no effort to control them or obstruct their path to victory. We are watching as Mexico becomes Afghanistan next door and waiting for the violence that engulfs our southern neighbor to consume our cities and streets right here at home.