"root causes" of violent crime, a mile a day, border wall, cartel gunmen, drug war, El Chapo, Mexican drug cartel violence, Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, President Trump, The Federalist
Anti-American cracktivists have screamed about the mere thought of building a wall on our Southern border. Since Mr. Trump is building a wall at the rate of about a mile a day, and the wall is very successful in stopping illegal immigration, they’ve been more or less ignoring the issue. Many are even claiming the wall isn’t being built. Since one can actually see the finished product, and the remaining wall under construction, it’s a “who you gonna believe? Me or your own lyin’ eyes?” situation.
The truth is there is another reason for a wall, one that may soon be as important as preserving our border integrity, one that may have even more urgent national security implications as John Daniel Davidson at The Federalist reports:
The southwest U.S. border might be quieter now than it was this spring at the height of the migrant crisis, but south of the Rio Grande the Mexican state is disintegrating.
Last Thursday in the city of Culiacan, the capital of Sinaloa state, a battle erupted between government forces and drug cartel gunmen after the Mexican military captured two sons of jailed drug kingpin Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman. The elder son, Ivan, was quickly freed by his men, who overpowered government forces and secured his release. Ivan then launched an all-out siege of the entire city in an effort to free his younger brother, Ovidio.
The ensuing scene could have been mistaken for Syria or Yemen. Footage posted on social media Thursday showed burning vehicles spewing black smoke, heavily armed gunmen blocking roads, dead bodies strewn in the streets, and residents fleeing for cover amid high-caliber gunfire.
Armed with military-grade weapons and driving custom-built armored vehicles, cartel henchmen targeted security forces throughout Culiacan, launching more than one dozen separate attacks on Mexican security forces. They captured and held hostage eight soldiers, then kidnapped their families. Amid the fighting, an unknown number of inmates escaped from a nearby prison. At least eight people were killed and more than a dozen were injured.
The eight-hour battle ended when government forces, outgunned and surrounded, without reinforcements or a way to retreat, received an order directly from Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador to release their prisoner and surrender. Lopez Obrador later defendedthis decision, insisting that his security strategy is working and saying, ‘Many people were at risk and it was decided to protect people’s lives. I agreed with that, because we don’t do massacres, that’s over.’
The battle of Culiacan marks a turning point in the collapse of the Mexican state. There is now no doubt about who is in control of Sinaloa, let alone the rest of the country. Cartel forces seized a major regional capital city in broad daylight and defeated the national armed forces in open battle.
Lopez Obrador may be compromised by the Cartels—that kind of corruption is common in Mexico—or he is simply a coward. One additional option is he is a realist. He knew the Mexican military, through either incompetence or corruption—perhaps both–could or would not win, and honestly tried to save as many lives as possible. In any case, it’s clear there is little, or no, rule of law in Mexico.
Violence is rampant across Mexico. Earlier in the week, more than one dozen police officers were massacred in a cartel ambush in western Mexico. A day later, 14 suspected gang members were killed by the Mexican Army. Homicides in Mexico this year are on track to surpass last year’s record total of more than 29,000.
Understand that the fighting in Culiacan is not just another episode in the “drug war,” nor is it merely an incident of organized crime. What’s happening Mexico right now is more like an insurgency. Yes, drug-trafficking is one of the things the cartels do, but it doesn’t nearly describe what they are or what role they’re playing in the disintegration of civil society in Mexico. Indeed, over the past decade cartels have diversified their economic activities to include everything from oil and gas production to industrial agriculture to offshore commercial fishing.
Organized crime commonly expands into legal businesses, but the difference in American and Mexican OC is American OC traditionally has played by rules, understanding that stepping too far out of line would bring the police, and the full force of the government, down on them. The rule of law still holds in American, tenuously, but it still holds.
What’s different today is that Mexico, despite its corrupt and incompetent government, has a rising middle class and a growing economy. Unlike the Mexican state, the Mexican people have shown themselves to be more than capable of industrious and liberal self-government, not just in the success millions of them have achieved in the United States but also in the success of local governments throughout the country.
Set against the Mexican people is a Mexican state incapable of governing and a cartel insurgency that now controls vast swaths of both territory and industry. President Lopez Obrador will not push back on the cartels. He has never said a bad word about El Chapo or the Sinaloa Cartel, and even campaigned for cartel amnesty in 2017, but he does have a long history of associating his political rivals with organized crime.
He has said he wants to tackle the ‘root causes’ of crime and violence, which he has said are poverty and lack of opportunity, and campaigned for president on slogans such as ‘hugs, not gunshots,’ and ‘you can’t fight fire with fire.’ In short, Lopez Obrador is not the man to rescue Mexico from the unfolding crisis.
He wants to deal with the “root causes” of violent crime. Does that sound familiar, gentle readers? It’s unlikely cartel gunmen who specialize in torture and the most grisly forms of murder are going to find hugs persuasive.
Even if the cartels do not take over the government outright, it’s clear the relative peace we’ve enjoyed in Mexico for so long is coming to an end. Indeed, one might reasonably argue it is the lack of peace that has caused many to flee to America, where there is something resembling a rule of law. Surely, most come for economic opportunity, but that opportunity is always at the cost of higher taxes and lost opportunity for actual Americans.
The day may not be far off when it is necessary to have a full-time military presence on the border, and when that time comes, a fence just might come in handy.