Indeed Potemkin (great minds and all that jazz...) and thanks Demos.
I will add one more point. Earlier this year, in the city of Matamoros (in Tamaulipas state directly opposite Brownsville, Texas), violence escalated to a point unseen in the area for years and running gun battles between security forces from Reynosa and other areas of the state, local police, armed civilians acting in concert with security forces, and cartel foot-soldiers made national headlines (in Mexico). It's presently considered among the worst of the U.S.-Mexico border crossings and it goes without saying that it's a primary smuggling route for narcotics.
A few weeks ago in Michoacan state in central Mexico west of Mexico City, armed cartel men deliberately blew up transformers and electrical plants in Morelia and around the state, before setting fire to petrol stations and local businesses. Over a million people lost power and whole towns in Michoacan's outlying suburbs were brought to a standstill for days. A well armed squad from one of the larger cartels beat back police and took control of the city hall in Apatzingán and there was no effective federal response for days there and in Morelia and surrounding towns while gangs entered people's homes and took over residential properties while fighting the authorities. Thus while the army's push in the north has at times yielded significant results (most significantly along the Pacific coastal highway south of Tijuana which is a major trafficking route) and this has been done first by the transfer of patrol duty from the absolutely worthless bought out police to the military, there are cities where the military has little to no active presence further south. These cities have descended into lawlessness which has taken on the character of insurgency and can no longer be considered a matter of crime control.
Territory hotly contested by rival cartels has in parts more closely resembled Kandahar or Mosul than other Latin American cities (This isn't an exaggeration - A few years ago at the height of the Drug War, Juarez had more violent deaths than Baghdad for the year) as the creation of effective no-go zones for police has seen the flight of other elements of social services necessary for a basic quality of life for the population who can no longer remain with non-existent protection, and with it the exodus of thousands of residents. Puerto Palomas in Chihuahua, which I referenced earlier, once a more vibrant cross-border transit point and at one point a recipient of far more American tourism, has seen the population drop from 12,000 to 4,000 in a period of a few years and go up and down again with the times amid a downward spiral of violence which saw the police chief flee across the U.S. border in request for political asylum, the mayor kidnapped, bound, and executed; several severed heads displayed in the town park in the main square, and decapitated corpses burned in large numbers a few kilometers from the town centre.
Michoacan is particularly volatile and another point of contention for turf and influence. Over the summer, a vice admiral of the Mexican navy, Carlos Salazar, commander of a major naval base at the tourist hotspot of Puerto Vallarta, was slaughtered when men employed by one of the leading cartels forced his car off the road before riddling it with bullets.
There was some truth in Ron Paul's statement when he said that this administration and likely any subsequent administration in Washington D.C. is infinitely more concerned with affairs on the border between Afghanistan and Pakistan than crafting any solution for the border areas between the United States and Mexico. This violent conflagration barely seeps into U.S. news and when it does, it's an afterthought which draws one hundred times less attention then when any faceless boy and his goat are killed by a drone in Somalia.
In the absence of any solution which the U.S. government is not interested in, and by extension the inefficient, corrupt, wildly unpopular liberal Mexican sockpuppet government is not interested in, more and more Mexicans are waking up to who, where, and what to fix their guns on. But allowing the country to be engulfed in such bloodshed, at times stopping it with blunt force where it is advantageous and at other times either turning a blind eye and failing to allocate any state resources or actively assisting and profiting from it is a precarious game for the Mexico City regime, because it's a fire they can't ultimately manage indefinitely.
And as anger toward the cartels and the abandonment of the population to the mercy of criminal militants increases, so anger toward the central and regional governments increases and begins to work in tandem. And so it will reach a boiling point. Some of the more tranquil areas such as San Cristobal de las Casas and other parts of Chiapas demonstrate a correlation between a population (many of whom are indigenous and considered political outliers by the central authorities) who over the course of generations have been more actively involved in the administration of their quadrant of the country and less likely to shy away from a vigilante response, typically backed by popular sentiment, than those living in areas traditionally reliant on the state who have grown up expecting what is now no longer forthcoming. Thus there can be said to be at least two, if not many Mexicos in that sense and this division along racial (the "white Mexicans" and Latinos or Ladinos who represent the faces of industry, entertainment, commerce, and finance vs. the Maya and other indigenous peoples clustered in the Yucatan peninsula but also littered throughout the country), regional, and class lines (which often correlates with the former) has worked to prevent a mass national awakening amid such a staggering security crisis and legitimized national corruption which affects the life of virtually every single worker and middle class family. What's more, the Mexican elite knows such pre-existing divisions serve this end and their backers in Washington know it, and this is why state policy seems to at times deliberately exacerbate it.
Yet the issues of untouchable forces of crime ensuring anarchy and a government designed
to be divided are increasingly being linked in the minds of millions of Mexicans, and it would be naive and ahistorical to expect the status quo to remain as is. Contrary to what some expect however, the more Mexicans take the future of their streets and state into their own hands and make the connection between the political paralysis and the explosion of underworld violence into their daily lives, the more the situation will become more
volatile and violent rather than less, at least in the interregnum. Only next time the smoke clears, it may just be the Mexican state
with guns fixed on their throat.
Worry grows over Mexico vigilante movement
Armed citizen patrols fighting drug cartel violence join forces with a radical teachers union in Guerrero state opposed to an education reform law.
MEXICO CITY — Debate is intensifying over armed vigilante patrols that have sprung up in crime-plagued sections of rural Mexico, particularly in the state of Guerrero, where some patrols joined forces this week with a radical teachers union that has been wreaking havoc with massive protests, vandalism and violent confrontations with police.
The two groups, on the surface, would appear to have little in common. The vigilante patrols, typically made up of masked campesinos, are among dozens that have emerged in the countryside in recent months, purporting to protect their communities from the depredations of the drug cartels. The state-level teachers union, meanwhile, has taken to the streets to protest a sweeping education reform law backed by Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto.
Their alliance was announced in a joint meeting Sunday. A leader of the vigilantes said they were joining with the teachers because it was the vigilantes' "watchword to fight against injustice."
The groups took part in their first joint demonstration this week in Chilpancingo, the capital of the southern state, which is home to the well-known resort city of Acapulco. The vigilantes apparently chose to march unarmed, and there were no reports of serious trouble.
But there is concern that an already-volatile series of political protests may take on a violent edge.
Before the alliance was announced, stick- and pipe-wielding members of the union, known as the State Coordinating Committee of Guerrero Education Workers, three times had blocked the key freeway connecting Mexico City and Acapulco, disrupting commerce during Acapulco's crucial spring break season.
Last week, some of the union protesters attacked federal police with homemade weapons as officers removed them from the road, according to police reports carried by Notimex, the state news agency. According to police, 15 officers were injured.
The vigilantes' decision to participate in political protests is an "unpleasant Molotov cocktail," Francisco Arroyo, president of Mexico's Chamber of Deputies, told reporters Tuesday. "A state that permits its citizens to arm themselves in order to achieve justice by their own hand is a failed state."
In general, the idea of aggrieved campesinos taking up arms and demanding justice resonates deeply in the national mythos, and the vigilantes have been embraced in some quarters. In January, Guerrero Gov. Angel Aguirre proposed giving salaries and uniforms to a group that patrols the city of Ayutla.
There have been problems, however. In February, a group in the Guerrero community of Las Mesas shot and injured two tourists headed to the beach who failed to stop at a vigilante roadblock. In March, federal authorities announced the arrest of 34 members of a self-defense group in the neighboring state of Michoacan, alleging they were connected to the drug cartel Jalisco Nueva Generacion.
The newspaper Reforma counted vigilante groups in 27 of Guerrero's 81 municipalities. The Peña Nieto government, which took power in December, has downplayed their presence as the administration tries to move the focus in Mexico away from the country's persistent violence and toward a package of reforms — including the controversial education reform law — that it hopes will spur a golden age of economic growth.
Peña Nieto was visiting Japan this week, hoping to drum up investment. At a news conference Tuesday, he was asked about the developments in Guerrero. He said the vigilantes' effort to take justice into their own hands was "beyond legality" and one "that my government will have to fight."
On Wednesday, protest leaders said their new group, which includes students and union members, would be called the Guerreran Popular Movement. On Thursday, hundreds of protesters again blocked the freeway to Acapulco.
Aguirre, the governor, told a reporter that he refused to be intimidated.
Note that Nieto declares an intention to fight
those Mexican citizens defending their families, homes, livelihoods, and country.
What do the government and the cartels have in common? They are both defecating in their trousers at the thought of a popular, armed Mexican national awakening. Yet it is the only solution which can see both equivalent sides of the trash bin flushed into the Gulf and something just, prosperous, and glorious built atop the massive empty space they would leave in their wake.
"I am never guided by a possible assessment of my work" - President Vladimir Putin
"Nations whose nationalism is destroyed are subject to ruin." - Muammar Qaddafi