Mexico and the cartel wars keep going
President Enrique Pena-Nieto of Mexico thought that he could fight the cartels differently than his predecessor, President Felipe Calderon.
Like President Obama in the U.S., who thought that he could end wars with a speech or by withdrawing, President Pena-Nieto thought that he could end the military’s role by simply doing so.
Not so fast: President Pena-Nieto has now confirmed that the armed forces will stay in the street until further notice. This is via Yahoo:
“Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto said Friday troops will remain in the streets to combat drug violence after his defense minister issued a rare complaint about the controversial deployment.
Although Pena Nieto acknowledged that the soldiers and marines have been doing law enforcement tasks that “don’t correspond to them in the strictest sense,” he said the armed forces are “determined to continue” policing the streets.
The military deployment has allowed “cities and regions in our country to return to peace and calm,” he said.
Defense Minister Salvador Cienfuegos said on Thursday that the military “didn’t ask” to be fighting criminals.
“We don’t like it. We didn’t study how to chase criminals,” the general said.
“Our function is something else and it’s been made into something unnatural. We are doing things that don’t correspond to our training because there’s no one else to do them.”
Mexico marks 10 years on Sunday since then president Felipe Calderon deployed for the first time thousands of troops to combat drug cartels.
The deployment has led to the capture of major drug lords but soldiers and marines have been accused of committing torture and other abuses over the years.
Violence also soared in the years that followed as the arrests of drug bosses sparked turf wars in several regions.
Pena Nieto, who took office in 2012, has said that troops would return to their barracks once citizens feel safe across the country.
Coincidence or not, we read this week that the cartels are getting more dangerous, not just to Mexico but the U.S. Elena Toledo posted this in PanAm Post:
The US Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) has issued a report called “Estimation of the National Drug Threat 2016” reaffirming the operation of six drug cartels in Mexico.
The federal agency, along with others, has detected drug trafficking by the Juarez Cartel, Gulf Cartel, New Generation Jalisco Cartel, Sinaloa Cartel, Los Zetas and Beltrán Leyva Cartel.
“Mexican cartels remain the main threat. No other group has currently positioned itself to challenge them in the United States. They maintain influence in large portions of Mexican territory that are used for the cultivation, production, importation, and transportation of illicit drugs,” the document describes.
There are some lessons here for president-elect Trump and President Pena-Nieto, who has a couple of years left in his six-year term.
First, this is a time for both countries to project strength because weakness does not end wars or scare ruthless cartel leaders. In fact, I would argue that it does the opposite. ISIS exploded on the scene once we left a vacuum in Iraq; and,
Second, the Mexican cartels are expanding since President Pena-Nieto took his foot off the accelerator. Yes, the Mexican government has scored some big hits, or killing of cartel heads. However, this is a long-term war and dead leaders are replaced quickly.
My suggestion is that both presidents come together and commit to winning this war. We will probably have to put troops on the border and participate in joint operations with the Mexican Army.
The war against cartels goes on and will go on for a while. This is not going to end with some peace treaty. The cartels will have to be crushed on the ground the same as ISIS.
Trump aside, this is one area where Mexico and the U.S. have shared interests.