Mexico’s war on narcotics is a long and bloody one. As the headline of this article will tell you, it was not without casualties. Is there a finish line in sight, however? There are many indications that while significant work has been done in breaking down the cartels, the impact on crime within Mexico’s cities has been negligible. Are the cartels too ingrained in Mexico’s dark underbelly that they cannot be pried away from it? It’s possible. Poverty and criminality go hand in hand, and Mexico cannot begin to address one issue if it does not solve the other.
The War Without End
At times, it has felt like the war of narcotics is a civil war, threatening to tear the nation apart. In fact, the death toll is actually comparable to some of the civil wars that broke out in Central America during the 80s. That should hopefully illustrate what a dire situation Mexico and its citizens find itself in, let alone neighboring countries it shares a border with.
Understandably, the United States put a tremendous amount of pressure on Mexico to keep up this war, because it serves their own interests in keeping narcotics out of their country. You have to wonder if this aloof view from afar is not very understanding of the situation in Mexico, and is instead shoving the problem under a rug by force instead of aiming for a true solution. Mexico can make its own decisions, and likely does most of the time, but when one of the most powerful nations in the world is knocking on your door, you’d better answer appropriately.
The Price Of Peace
In all this, you have to consider the human element. The victims of this war, on both sides. Yes, despite the horror stories about the cartels you will find that certainly not all of its foot soldiers aspired for this kind of life. The lure of money and some form of security in an uncertain world drew in young men from Mexico and beyond to be the muscle of this operation. Despite a tough exterior perpetuated by factual and fictional media, you’ll find that many of these cartel operatives hate what they do. They joined for security in life, and yet they find themselves forever on uncertain ground.
But what of the true monsters within the cartel? The old guard who have become kingpins, or gone to prison? The long arm of the law isn’t long enough for most of them. They’re well protected and highly insulated from justice. When they are captured and prosecuted, the deep influence of the cartel is almost guaranteed to see them set free or have them escape. You need to look no further than Joaquín “El Chapo” Guzmán for an example of what the cartel can do even when one of their high ranking members is imprisoned.
Is There Hope?
The situation as I have so far described it looks hopeless, but there are glimmers within the dust and dirt kicked up by this long, brutal fight against the narcotics trade. When the cartels overstep their power, the people will revolt. It doesn’t matter if they are armed, influential, or powerful, when you push a community too far they will fight back. The Knights Templar cartel learned this the hard way when they tried to dictate the state of Michoacan. Tired of the extortion and control over their lives, the people rose up and drove the Knights Templar cartel out of the state entirely.
It isn’t a happy ending, however. Once the Knights Templar moved out, other gangs moved in. Such is the way with the cartels. Cut off one head, and two more take its place. Perhaps that is why after ten long and brutal years the needle has barely budged in this war on narcotics. Here’s to another ten years, and maybe even ten, twenty, thirty more beyond that.