A Woman's Perspective On The Times We Live In


February 21, 2014

Mexico's Conundrum

     This is a fascinating, terrifying, and unpredictable story all rolled into one.  Those of us who live along our nation's southern border are well aware of the violence attached to the Mexican drug cartels.  After the demise of the Columbian cartels in the 1990s, the Mexican cartels now dominate the wholesale illicit drug market, and in 2007 controlled 90% of the cocaine entering the United States.  Although there have been arrests of key cartel leaders, particularly in the Tijuana and Gulf cartels, there is an increase in drug violence as cartels fight for control of the trafficking routes into the United States. With annual wholesale earnings ranging from $13.6 to $49.4 billion, that's quite a business to protect, and the Mexican people have paid the price.
     Between 2006 and 2012, the Mexican government sets the official loss of life at 60,000; but it is more likely that the real death toll is closer to 100,000, if you include the disappearances of citizens.  The extreme violence against the people of Mexico has taken a toll.  Graphic executions on YouTube, tossed body parts into crowded nightclubs, hand grenade tosses into crowded public places have only added to the extortion, kidnappings and intimidations felt by all citizens.  Add to that the fact that, in Mexico, regular citizens were not allowed to own firearms, and the failed policies of the government to protect its citizens, and you had a recipe for hopelessness.
   
States in red show where the most violence has occurred.
All that changed when the citizens rose up, formed armed vigilante groups, and started taking responsibility for their own safety.  As reported by World.Time.com, vigilante groups have been spreading rapidly across Mexico’s southwestern mountains this year as crime-weary residents decide to take justice into their own hands. They now claim thousands of adherents, and have emerged in at least seven other Mexican states.  The militias are made up of farmers, mechanics, shopkeepers and taxi drivers, who set up check points, patrol streets and drag alleged criminals into makeshift prisons. While they have handed over most detainees to state prosecutors, they have put some on public trials, shot others dead and come under fire themselves.
      It seems that government officials are worried that the vigilante groups have gotten out of control.  CNN reports some locals view the vigilantes as heroes. Others see them as villains and have responded to their arrival by destroying property and setting vehicles ablaze to create fiery road blockades to stop them.  It seems that federal officials have been "schizophrenic" about how they approach the groups, sometimes cracking down on them and other times describing them as allies.  
     Alfredo Castillo, appointed by the Mexican federal government as Commissioner of Public Safety in the state of Michoacan, issues this warning:  "The newly formed self-defense groups could become as ruthless as the cartels they claim to oppose.  You can start out with a genuine purpose.  But when you start taking control, making decisions and feeling authority ... you run the risk of reaching that point [of not return]."
     The militias now constitute a third force in Mexico’s drug war ... cartel squads of gunmen, state security forces and these groups of armed citizens.  And in order to control them, the government of the state of Michoacan has reached a deal with vigilante leaders to incorporate the armed civilian groups into old and largely forgotten quasi-military units called the Rural Defense Corps. Since vigilante groups estimate their numbers at 20,000 men under arms, that's a considerable force to be reckoned with.  (I have yet to see any article addressing the question of where these citizens retained their arms.)
     But why did it take the rise of the people to convince the government that maybe they needed to combine forces to fight the cartels?  Why wasn't the government working their own plan?  Could it be that corruption and bribes were the way business was conducted; allowing the cartels free rein?  So what makes the armed citizens groups think that is going to change?  
     And here is where warning bells start going off for me --- Vigilante leaders will have to submit a list of their members to the Defense Department, and the army will apparently oversee the groups, which the government said “will be temporary.” They will be allowed to keep their weapons as long as they register them with the army.  
     If you were a Mexican citizen in these circumstances, would you trust your government?  The very government that had proven it could not, or would not, defend you against the violent cartels?  How could you trust that some corrupt official wouldn't hand over the names of citizen group members, resulting in more guns falling into the hands of the cartels?
     There are those who see the legalizations of self-defense groups as a positive step, both to return the rule of law to the state of avocado and lime farmers, and to give protection to the vigilantes.  They feel that it's not good for the rule of law to have armed groups that are outside the control of the state.  So now the question becomes this:  will the government adopt this rule of law, which they have so far failed to implement?
     Ernesto Lopez Portillo, of Mexico’s Institute for Security and Democracy, agrees that the militias need to be brought under some form of control. “The government needs to commit to making an unprecedented effort to invest in these communities and reduce crime,” Lopez Portillo said. “We have to understand that these self defense groups are not the cause of the violence in Mexico, but a consequence. They are a response to the failure of the government to administer justice and stop the growth of organized crime.”
     Since a lot of this violence has spilled over into our country, this development requires close scrutiny. While I hope and pray that the Mexican government will prove themselves moral, and that the citizen groups will not become corrupted themselves, we cannot ignore the fact that the sins of this nation and its addiction for illicit drugs is at the heart of this tragedy.  Tens of thousands of innocent people have lost their lives, and there seems to be no curbing our appetite for numbing our pain.  There is no denying that lots of holes in the souls of Americans are fueling the violence in Mexico.  But I'm afraid that until The Lost recognize that there's only one fix for their empty souls, they will continue to feed this deadly habit.  And the death toll will rise.

1 Timothy 6:10    "For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evils. It is through this craving that some have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many pangs."











     


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