Mexico…a partly failed stateby Hugh Holub on Apr. 28, 2011, under border issues, border patrol, border patrol tucson sector, drug smuggling, mexican drug cartels, mexico, politics
Those of us familiar with northern Mexico have long worried about the collapse of governmental control in parts of that country
There is a constant flow of information coming out from the area west of Nogales over to the Sasabe area and south to Altar about how one of the drug cartels has taken control of the area and turned it into a narco kingdom
An interesting report from the Foreign Policy Ressearch Institute:
By David J. Danelo
…The volume of violence is where the similarities end. Unlike the FARC in Colombia, Mexico’s drug cartels have no desire to reshape their country in accordance with Marxist ideology. In thought and behavior, Mexico’s narcotics groups have more in common with Somali pirates than Colombian rebels: both groups seek to create anarchy so they can exploit the defenseless and dominate local markets. Like Somali pirates in East Africa’s coastal villages, Los Zetas and their ilk have thrived in stateless voids, stealing money from merchants and becoming minor celebrities within their respective regions.
While Colombia faced a political insurgency, Mexico confronts something like land piracy. The drug kingpins are bandits, shameless and powerful, sailing untouched through the mountainous seas of the Sierra Madres and Rio Grande Basin, marauding wantonly in their fleets of pickup trucks and SUVs. The absence of politics does not make Mexico’s problems any less virulent, and analysts should pause before dismissing the drug violence as “only a criminal problem” simply because the Sinaloa Cartel lacks a political ideology.
Danelo goes into considerable detail on Mexican history, noting that some areas like the Rio Grand Valley and what he calls the Sierra Madre region (which is what is south of us) has never really been under long term effective control of Mexico’s central government…going back to when it was a Spanish colony.
Here in Tubac, with the burnt ruins of various attempts at securing this area since 1752 lying buried in our yards, the struggle to secure the area from the Apaches, through various revolutions down south, and now the invasion of drug cartel gunmen is especially relevant.
For a very long time residents in the borderlands have had to keep their guns handy because authorities in capital cities far away had better things to do than protect the settlements that tried to grow and prosper around here. The archeology of the borderlands is measured not in layers of broken pottery…but in layers of spent shell casings.
Danelo makes the point that central government authority in Mexico is still functioning in that country’s major urban areas like Mexico City.
But out in the rural areas of the north, it is bandit country. His characterization of Mexico’s rural areas being taken over by the equivalents of Somali pirates rings true.
The reality for the United States is our border will never be secure no matter how much we do on our side of the border if there are lawless territories controlled by drug cartels across the line from us.
The United States is floating billions of dollars in attempts to aid the Mexican central government to root out the drug cartel cancer. But short of invading northern Mexico with our troops (an extremely unlikely scenario) the only sure path to create secure civilized zones across the border is to assist in the development of rural communities and economies through non-governmental organizations working in those areas so they can resist takeover by the cartels….and hopefully assist the state governments in northern Mexico to be able to provide law enforcement protection to rural communities so the cartel gangs can be chased out.
There is extreme danger to the US borderlands if large areas along the border fall under the control of the drug cartels…and they are obviously seizing territory and controlling it for their purposes.
One very interesting observation from sources within the Department of Homeland Security is that the amount of illegal immigrant traffic being experienced along the border between Arizona and Sonora has been greatly reduced not by effective Border Patrol activity…but because the cartels control acces to our border now and don’t let a lot of illegal immigrants cross their “territory” out of concern that the US will beef up Border Patrol presence in the cartels’ drug smuggling corridors.
When it comes to responsiveness from Homeland Security to deploy Border Patrol on our border, stopping the flow of illegal immigrants in and near urban areas appears to take precedence over stopping drug cartel smuggling operations….at least in the Pima and Santa Cruz county areas of the border.
It will make no sense to “secure the border” by putting a lot of Border Patrol agents right at the border so drug cartel gunmen can shoot at our folks from the hilltops in cartel controlled territory just across the line.
To really secure the border will require effective action by Mexico as well as the United States.