This interesting news bit floated across my screen last week. ‘Narco-antennas’ keep appearing in Mexico, another sign cartels are reaching far beyond drugs. Indeed, they seem to be assuming power and doing things the way the mobs in Chicago, New York, and elsewhere never did.
As a result, we may soon be seeing a Mexico that is a historical and geographical description, but in reality consists of multiple independent states, similar to the Pre-Bismarck Germanies.
Indeed, as the story goes on to relate, the drug cartels are doing the same sort of things that governments usually do: collect payments from property owners to protect their property, steal goods and services to provide for their own operations, and use the threat of force – including violence – to make people comply.
Actually, the similarity between these drug cartels and secessionist and revolutionary movements in the last century is great. The main difference seems to be that the cartels, unlike most movements, are successful!
The cartels are not recognized by virtually any other government around the world as anything but criminal organizations. But they are acting like governments. (Why do I say “virtually?” Because among others, apparently ISIS (the Caliphate) and perhaps some “rogue” states (North Korea, Iran) may be treating the cartels as governments.)
They apparently get involved in conducting foreign relations, with people or governments in such places as Venezuela and Columbia, as well as ISIS. Their fighters are increasingly professional in appearance and standardized in equipment and tactics. They are military forces that appear far more like the United Mexican States’ own troops than any guerrilla force or home defense group. And the cartel fighters appear to be operating as both military (“defensive” AND “offensive”) forces AND police forces. This involvement in communications infrastructure, collecting “protection money” (franchise fees, property taxes, and such), and regulating businesses all smells like government to me.
But the other side of the coin is the local communities which are apparently denied the “protection” of their state and federal forces against the cartels and other outlaws and their gangs. Many of these, either independently or in coordination with the cartels, have created their own defense and police forces. Sometimes, these forces are linked to local governments, but sometimes completely separate.
In Mexico, there are 31 States and over 2,400 municipalities – closer to American or Canadian counties than to towns or cities. But these have always been under the thumb (and funded by) the states and federal authorities. Although there have been signs of decentralization in recent decades, even the Mexican States are much less autonomous and powerful than American States or Canadian Provinces.
There are valid historical reasons for this: Mexico has long been threatened with massive secession. Texas’ independence in 1836 was just one of numerous attempts, from the Yucatan and Chiapas in the South to the Rio Grande Republic, and even California, in the North. Indeed, after being part of Nuevo Espana (New Spain) for more than 80 years, New Mexico’s Pueblos revolted and briefly regained their independence in 1680.
In addition, the various revolutions and civil wars since Mexico won independence from Spain have almost always been geographically based, although the goals were always control of the central government. And the presidency: the legislature and judiciary have always been junior branches to the executive. There have been decades in which the central government in Ciudad Mexico had little or no control over large portions of the country.
Which is more or less the case in the heart of cartel-controlled territory in Mexico now, in the 21st Century. Stratfor recently published this map.
Indeed, it is getting harder and harder to tell any real difference between the “legitimate” government gangs and the “illegal” cartel gangs. No doubt, this will continue, and the people of Mexico will continue to suffer as they and their Mediterranean AND AmerInd ancestors have for a thousand years and more. As time goes on, the various revolutionary movements will again gain power, and the various regional independence movements, long dormant but never extinguished, will also again rise.
The solution to this is, of course, anathema to Mexico’s governments and her cartels and other officially-criminal and revolutionary organizations. It is freedom, liberty, Not just from foreign control or from control from Ciudad Mexico, but from ALL authoritarian government and the bullies and parasites found therein.