“We seem to be at an impasse. If you move, violence erupts. If we move, violence erupts. That’s a lot of erupting violence.“—Erskine Ravel, Skulduggery Pleasant
“ You can’t fight fire with fire. That’s the difference with this strategy compared with what previous governments have done. We don’t want deaths, we don’t want war.”— President Lopez Obrador
“Mexico has strict gun control. You cannot own a gun in Mexico.” Jesse Ventura
This past week we saw the definition of a well-worn euphemism: “Mexican stand-off,” redefined. Until last week the meaning of the phrase, “Mexican stand-off” was: “A situation that nobody can triumph in, especially one where all people involved have guns.” The new definition could be: “A situation that nobody can triumph in until the government gives up because the cartel has more guns.”
You may not have noticed the incredible event described as a “Mexican standoff” being talked about this past week in the mainstream media. When you look at how much was written about the Washington Nationals winning the World Series pennant, the California wildfires, or the impeachment process, and put those next to this incredibly significant event which occurred in Culiacán, Mexico last week, it seems like only a paltry amount of reporting occurred on the subject. As is so often the case, there is more than meets the eye concerning the event. I hope to unpack some of that confusion for you this week.
Before I explain what happened recently in Culiacán I will briefly highlight the main points of the Mexican Drug War. “The Mexican War on Drugs exists between the Mexican government and drug trafficking organizations as well as other countries that are impacted by the Mexican drug cartels. The Mexican military first started to intervene in 2006 with the primary goal of ending the disastrous amount of drug-related violence.”
Just some simple facts:
Here are the 6 largest Mexican drug cartels:
- Gulf Cartel – One of the most powerful cartels next to the Sinaloa Cartel, it is based in Matamoros, Tamaulipas.
- Beltran Leyva – Founded by four brothers, it is aligned with Los Zetas to fight a battle against three other cartels including Sinaloa, Gulf, and La Familia Michoacana.
- Juarez Cartel – Currently fighting for control of Ciudad Juarez and the state of Chihuahua from the Sinaloa Cartel, the Juarez Cartel used to be aligned with them for major drug trafficking organizations.
- Los Zetas Cartel – With members formerly in the Mexican military, this cartel was originally devised to serve as hitmen for the Gulf Cartel. Currently, they are battling for control of Tamaulipas and Nuevo Leon.
- Sinaloa Cartel – Led by the infamous Joaquin Guzman, also known as El Chapo, this is considered to be one of the most dominant drug trafficking cartels in Mexico.
- Tijuana Arellano Felix Cartel – Although most of the Arellano Felix brothers have been captured or killed, this cartel is based in Tijuana.
- Since 2006, approximately 120,000 people have been killed as a result of organized crime related to the Mexican Drug War.
- In the United States alone, Mexican drug cartels profit an estimated $19 to $29 billion each year.
- The Mexican Drug War originated by President Felipe Calderon began targeting drug-related violence throughout the country.
- The main target of arresting authorities throughout the war has been Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman, in relation to his role in one of the most powerful trafficking operations in Mexico.
On Thursday, October 17, 2019, a joint task-force from State and FBI law enforcement agencies raided a compound of the leader of a powerful drug cartel. In the raid, they arrested the son of the well-known drug cartel leader who, because his father has already been arrested and is serving time in a maximum-security prison in the US, is in charge of current drug-running operations. In the city of Culiacán in Sinaloa, police, and soldiers from the Mexican government arrested Chapo “El Chapo” Guzman’s son, Ovidio Guzman. What happened next is beyond belief.
Very quickly after the arrest, local cartel members began to shut off choke points and bridges of the 800,000 population city, Culiacán. Cartel patrols began to shoot up the city, raid police stations and kidnap the families of military and police force officials.
Increasing numbers of cartel fighters entered the city with weapons as large as .50 caliber machine guns and rocket launchers. They set buildings on fire and raided prisons to fill out their ranks, arming them and setting them into operations against military and police units. As the day progressed, eight people were killed in the fighting. The death toll has now risen to thirteen.
The cartel leaders continued to call the police and military to threaten them with the killing of their families if they did not release the cartel leader’s son back to them. Seeing that the cartel had the upper hand, the president of the country issued a command to release the drug cartel leader’s son so that there would be no more violence. The violence was halted and hostilities quickly subsided. The president immediately announced a victory and set to explaining his actions, and there are many who are supporting it.
Could there be some second or third-order effects to this decision made by Mexican President Lopez Obrador to give in to the drug cartel? To his credit, he was determined to spare the lives of his officials in Culiacán. His premise came from this statement, “You can’t fight fire with fire. That’s the difference with this strategy compared with what previous governments have done. We don’t want deaths, we don’t want war.”— President Lopez Obrador
What could be wrong with President Obrador’s assumptions? — Perhaps the cartels will take his response as a sign of weakness. They may surmise that there is simply no more stomach for violence in Los Piños. They could conclude that Mexican people simply do not want to fight anymore. They may use violence again to secure their desired ends, thinking that the government will not resist them any longer.
A very powerful precedence has been set. When the government crosses the cartel’s path, all the cartel needs to do is to respond with loads of violence and then the government will retreat. Many lives may have been spared in Culiacán last week. The question remains, however: How many lives are yet to be paid for that retreat?
Remember, 120,000 people have already lost their lives in the War on Drugs in Mexico. It is unlikely that the cartels are going to recant from their use of violence anytime soon, especially if they believe they have the upper hand with the current government.
Why are we seeing so little reported on this historic incident? There may be an element in the US society that is so desirous of peace, that they will seek it at all costs. This resembles the mood of many who fall for the Iranians, “do and deny” tactic. They openly tell you they would never do something, even as they are conducting the attack. I wrote about that at length here. We are all so desperate for peace that we will buy the feigned pretense of peace, even with a great many facts that point in the opposite direction.
One can only speculate on some of the possible reasons that the American mainstream media isn’t giving this story the attention it deserves. Here are a few postulated possibilities:
- The mainstream media in the United States doesn’t want to spread any stories about Mexico that would validate President Trump’s statements on border security or criminality/lawlessness in Mexico.
- The story brings too much attention to the War on Drugs, which has been for all intents and purposes, an utter and complete failure.
- Is there possibly a fear of the organization and the discipline that was displayed by the cartel? Maybe they think the cartel’s willingness to arm themselves and mobilize against state authority could bolster new ideas.
Though these are simply speculations, there could be some merit to them. For example, there is a lack of concern that a country that shares a 1954 mile long border has just lost a war to criminal gangs. Certainly, that must give pause to consider who is in power just south of our border? What are the possible consequences of lawlessness in Mexico? Will that cause a greater number of potential migrants? Will the lawlessness spill over into the border states? What will the loss of control of the State do to the cartel’s means for possible cross border infiltrations?
When a government fears the actions of criminals more than it wants to bring them to justice, most likely a complete breakdown of order will ensue. This is what it looks like on the surface in Mexico today. President Obrador has submitted to the wishes of the criminal elite. How can his word to protect the people and uphold justice ever be taken seriously again?
Today, a very serious criminal, Ovidio Guzman walks free to continue his criminal activity. Who will stop him? The government has already said, “We won’t.” This should be a concern to anybody who walks in his wake because he has become above the law.
Long ago, in the fourth century, some brilliant Christian thinkers began to reflect on the human penchant for violence. Should Christians ever resort to it? Should Christians become soldiers? Should they be part of a police force? Yes, our teachers said, with some conditions: violent force should be used only as a last resort, and then only to restrain an aggressor. Vengeance should never be the motivation. The appropriate response to hostile action had to be proportionate to the incident being addressed, and harming non-combatant civilians was to be avoided at all costs.
As uncomfortable as I feel with President Obrador’s response to the Sinaloa Cartel, I hold out hope that his genuine desire is for peace AND justice. I long for peace as most of you do. Honestly, I am skeptical that mankind will ever find it this side of heaven.
The way I see it, the primary role of a government is to uphold justice and maintain peace. When a government decides to neglect justice to hold out for some form of conciliation at the expense of the people they are sworn to defend, it seems as if that government is on the brink of collapsing under the weight of its own cowardice and fear.
Iran breaks further from the nuclear deal on the anniversary of the US Embassy crisis… https://www.pbs.org/newshour/world/iran-further-breaks-from-nuclear-deal-on-anniversary-of-u-s-embassy-crisis
For your comments or questions about any of our digests please feel free to write to me at: firstname.lastname@example.org