Wednesday, June 30, 2010

The Violent and Deadly Politics of Mexico

Hurricane Alex is currently pounding the U.S.-Mexican border. A much deadlier storm of sorts, however, has been ravaging Mexico and the U.S.-Mexico border for years - and shows no sign of clearing any time soon. That storm is the rampant violence that has claimed thousands of lives in Mexico, one of the three North American nations in which violence - deadly violence - is a frequent part of the political landscape. Like Hurricane Alex, that storm is spilling over the border into the U.S. "More people now die violently on our southern border," reports the NY Post, "than in Somalia, Yemen or even Afghanistan." Gunfire killed Rodolfo Torre Cantu on Monday, June 28. He was the front-runner candidate for governor in the Mexican state of Tamaulipas, running as the Institutional Revolutionary Party's (PRI) candidate. Torre died instantly when he and "at least four other people" were en route to a campaign event near the state capitol, reports the Financial Times, and Mexican authorities say that the murder "is the latest act of intimidation by Mexico's powerful drugs cartels." Tamaulipas is one of 11 Mexican states in which voters will vote in gubernatorial elections on Sunday, July 4. There is little doubt that Torre's murder was the work of the cartels. Time Magazine says that "as Torre left the state capital to conclude his campaign, assailants showered his convoy with gunfire from automatic rifles and heavy-caliber weapons, killing him instantly. Army commanders said the attack bore all the signs of the Zetas, a paramilitary drug gang that was born in the state." Mexico's political system has long been deeply corrupt, from the cop on the street to the top level of the country's federal government. That system has also spawned frequent political violence. Because of the corruption, the Mexican government at all levels is inept. If Mexico had its act together, it would have made use of it's incredible beauty and natural resources long ago to become one of most prosperous nations in the world. Instead, Mexico is a violent, corrupt, filthy basket case with civil war in its south and drug gangs running the show in many cities. Those gangs, the drug cartels such as the Zetas, have become very effective paramilitary organizations, operating with professionalism that is alarming. This frightening efficiency is detailed by Ted Galen Carpenter at The National Interest: Two features of Torre's assassination on Monday are indicative of just how brazen and powerful the drug gangs have become. One is the status of the victim; Torre's death is the most high-profile assassination since the killing of presidential candidate Luis Donaldo Colosio in 1994. The cartels thereby sent a message that no one, no matter how prominent, is beyond their reach. The second alarming aspect is the professionalism of the hit. His car was ambushed on the road to the airport, with one attacking vehicle blocking in front and another closing off any retreat, thereby creating a perfect free-fire zone. Multiple gunmen then sent a hail of bullets into their helpless target, killing Torre and several aides and bodyguards. Unfortunately, that technique increasingly characterizes cartel attacks on Mexican officials, police and even military personnel. This is not just a problem for Mexico, but also for its neighbors to the north. The drug cartel violence often spills over to the border states in the U.S. Imagine two houses. In one, the residents are constantly fighting, often violently, and sometimes the gunfire from within flies into the house next door. Now and then, some of the violent neighbors sneak into the house next door and do their illegal business there while completely ignoring requests to leave. Worse yet, the violent neighbors occasionally kidnap or kill some of their hapless neighbors. When the vicitms call on other neighbors for help, they are accused of being racists. Welcome to California, Arizona, New Mexico and Texas. Despite the assassination of Torre, the Mexican government has said that the elections will be held as scheduled on Sunday, July 4. According to the Homeland Security News Wire (March, 2009), "The biggest and most violent combatants are the Sinaloa cartel, known by U.S. and Mexican federal law enforcement officials as the 'Federation' or 'Golden Triangle,' and its main rival, 'Los Zetas' or the Gulf Cartel, whose territory runs along the Laredo,Texas, borderlands. The two cartels appear to be negotiating a truce or merger to defeat rivals and better withstand government pressure. U.S. officials say the consequences of such a pact would be grave. 'I think if they merge or decide to cooperate in a greater way, Mexico could potentially have a national security crisis,' the defense official said. He said the two have amassed so many people and weapons that Mexican President Felipe Calderon is 'fighting for his life' and 'for the life of Mexico right now'." We wish the Mexican voters all the best, but also send our sympathies. The drug cartels, after all, are not elected officials and will continue their deadly activities regardless of how the elections turn out. RELATED: After elections, will Mexico's drug war return opposition to power? CSM.com Mexican Drug Cartels Threaten Arizona Police ABC News Cartel threatens Nogales, Arizona police PoliJAM Drug Cartels Threaten Texas Water Supply Dallas Blog Mexico's civil war brings more than 15000 killed ArticlesBase US Congresswoman: Hezbullah is working with drug cartels Jerusalem Post Mexican drug cartels employ more foot soldiers than Mexican army HSNW Mexican Drug Cartels Control Parts of Arizona Human Events Mexico/Organised Crime: Gunmen kills 19 in Chihuahua Intelligence Quarterly

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