Mexico at war, the US is to blame

November 20 was the 100th anniversary of the Mexican revolution, the first major social revolution of the 20th century: a heroic deed carried out by two legendary popular figures, Emiliano Zapata and Pancho Villa, whose victory was a victory for workers and peasant farmers: rights, agrarian reform, free, non-religious public education, and social security.

One hundred years later, paradoxically, the situation of Mexico “is analogous in many respects to that at the and of 1910: an obscene concentration of wealth accompanied by widespread social backwardness; distortion of the popular will; infringement of workers rights; the negation of basic guarantees by the authorities; ceding of sovereignty to international capital, and a oligarchic, patrimonialist, technocratic political class out of touch with the people.”

Add to this depressing catalogue of problems a war — or, to be more precise, three wars: one waged among the drug traffickers for the control of territory; one of the Zeta groups (criminal groups comprised of ex-military and ex-police) that rob and kidnap the civil population; and one of the military and special forces against their own citizens.

Violence

Starting Dec 1, 2006, under pressure from Washington, Mexican president Felipe Calderon launched his ‘offensive against drug trafficking’. The wave of violence that followed left about 30,000 dead.

Mexico increasingly resembles a ‘failed state’, caught in a deadly trap, beset by every type of armed thug: paramilitary and parapolice; bands of ‘legal’ and ‘liberated’ assassins; US agents from the CIA and DEA; and finally the Zetas, who target particularly central and south American migrants on their way to the United States. They are without a doubt responsible for the atrocious murder of 72 migrants discovered last August 24 in the state of Tamaulipas.

Every year some 5,00,000 Latin Americans cross through Mexico on their way north. During the passage they undergo a wide range of abuses, from arbitrary arrest, robbery, and plundering to rape. Eight of 10 women experience sexual abuse; many are impressed as servants to criminal gangs or forced into prostitution. Hundreds of children are put to work. Thousands of migrants are kidnapped. The Zetas make the families of their victims pay ransom.

For organised crime it is easier to kidnap 50 or so unknown people for a few days and receive payments of between $300 and $1,500 than kidnap an important businessman. If the kidnapped person has no way to pay the ransom, he is killed. Each Zeta cell has its own ‘butcher’ to decapitate and dismember the victims, and burn the remains in a steel barrel. In the last decade, some 60,000 undocumented people whose families were unable to pay their ransom were ‘disappeared’.

Such barbaric violence concentrated in certain cities, like Ciudad Juarez, and in certain states, has spread to the rest of the country. Washington has designated Mexico a ‘dangerous country’ and ordered its consulate workers in various cities to send their children back to the US.

President Calderon regularly announces successes in the war on drug trafficking and the arrest of important narco leaders. He is content to have mobilised the army. The majority of Mexicans do not agree, because the military, who have no experience in this sort of intervention, increase the ‘collateral damage’, killing hundreds of civilians by mistake.

By mistake? Abel Barrera Hernandez, who just won the Robert F Kennedy Human Rights Prize, awarded in the US, doesn’t believe it. On the contrary he believes that the drug war is being used to criminalise civil protest.

The Obama administration believes that the bloodbath Mexico has become is a threat to the security of the US. In reality, the US bears a major share of the responsibility for this war. It is the main opponent of the legalisation of drugs. It is the supplier of (up to 90 per cent of) the weapons used in the violence, whether by the cartels or the Zetas or the army or the police. Moreover, the US is the main drug power: it is a major producer of marijuana and the largest producer of chemical drugs like amphetamines, ecstasy, etc.

The US is, above all, the largest drug market in the world, with 7 million cocaine addicts. And the mafias that operate in its territory make the largest profits off of the sale of drugs: 90 per cent, or $45 billion per year. In contrast, the total made by all of the Latin American cartels come to a mere 10 per cent.

Yet again, rather than give its neighbours (bad) advice, which has precipitated Mexico into a hellish war, Washington should clean its own house.

IPS

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