A Silver Lining for Mexico

Organized crime is what haunts Latin America. For whatever reason, in many countries guerrilla groups have caused mayhem, influenced politics, and represented the underdevelopment that plagues Latin America.

These groups seen all over the region undermine the weak governmental institutions. These organized crimes groups and cartels insight rebellion and angst within rural and poor communities, gaining support from those who have not reaped the benefits from their government. However, many of these groups collaborate with the corrupt and weak governmental officials.

It would be nice to think that the problem of drug cartels and guerrilla groups was simply a thing of the past, but drug trafficking is a business within itself that funds these radical groups. Since 2007, homicide rates in Mexico have tripled, and the death toll from the fighting has reached about 90,000, according to Foreign Affairs.  In the case of Mexico, one of my close friends from outside of Monterrey, Mexico told me the sad truth facing his country.

“The situation will never change in Mexico,” he said indignantly, “There is no way to fix it because these cartel groups are so embedded into the communities that don’t hold trust in the government.”

Being an optimist, this statement from a born and raised Mexican shocked me…nothing to be done for the system or country? The main cartel groups in Mexico are: Los Zetas, Sinaloa Federation, Beltan Leyva Organization, La Familia Michoacana and the Cartel de Jalisco Nueva Generacion.

Los Zetas Marina Armada. Photo: Center for Security Policy

From Monterrey, Mexico my friend, whose name will remain anonymous, informed me of how integrated the cartel systems are within the communities. Originally created out of anguish and poverty, these groups and hacienda heads became mini governmental systems for their communities. In a ranchero/small town community outside of the city for instance, the governmental benefits would not reach these small towns or communities. Sanitation, education, transportation or any other types of services normally are not received from the government.

However, these small communities in turn for housing and abiding by the cartel activities and rule within the regions receive benefits from the wealth of the cartel heads. The communities then become dependent on this new form of communal support.

As long as the cycle of “protection for protection” continues, there is no foreseeable way of change. People have ignored the violence and other things they blame and accept as faults of the government or people who don’t abide by the twisted rules of the cartels that control the area.

Although Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto has been traveling the world, from Beijing to Brisbane at APEC meetings and G-20 summits, Mexico has been turned upside-down within the past couple weeks.

There has to come a time when people begin to say enough is enough, and that time may have come in Mexico. There may be a silver lining.

It has been more than seven weeks now, since 43 college students training to be teachers have vanished in the rural state of Guerrero. Despite President Nieto’s efforts to promote an internationally integrated economy and a better Mexico, the political fallout for the recent event has put him and the whole Mexican governmental system in the hot seat. One governor has already resigned, a state prosecutor has stepped down and other officials have been arrested, according to the Washington Post.

“The drama of Mexico is about impunity,” said leading political commentator Jesús Silva Herzog. “This is not about the popularity or unpopularity of the president, that is irrelevant. It is about credibility and trust and, at its root, it is about legitimacy.” –The Gaurdian

Peaceful protests have been held, but most have ended in violence. What started with enraged family members and friends over the loss of the students has turned into a nationwide movement for disapproval of the government and the want for change.

Protesters take part in a demonstration in Guadalajara City on Nov. 18, 2014, over the disappearance of 43 teachers college students. (Hector Guerrero/AFP/Getty Images)
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