Pactar con el narco
There is not a single location in our country without the presence of organized crime. It is seen in the children and youths that are so easily recruited as halcones (lookouts/spies) or sicarios (assassins), or in the entire families who turn their homes into small narcotienditas, outlets where, day and night, addicts from all walks of life go to purchase their drugs.
We also see it in the countryside, where the farmer prefers to sow opium poppy or marijuana instead of corn, and in the cities, where criminals are able to block thoroughfares and avenues.
Organized criminal groups have made Mexico their territory and they compete every day for the plazas (lucrative territories), just like large corporations. Only instead of ad “spots” and marketing, they use machine guns, grenades, bombs and all types of weapons to mark their territory with logos of fear (hangings, mutilations, etc.), creating an empire of terror.
If you spread a map of the nation on the table and use a color to identify each of the major organized crime groups - the Gulf Cartel, Sinaloa, Juarez, Zetas, Beltranes, La Familia, and Valencia - we would see how each one of them dominates a region, and sometimes the colors are mixed or blended in certain areas that are the most contested, such as Ciudad Juarez, Acapulco, Reynosa, Cuernavaca, Torreón, among others, either because they are areas of drug production or profitable consumption markets or because they are the best routes for transit.
Following the classic pattern of the capitalist model, the Mexican drug trafficker, just like the Italian and U.S. Mafias, has evolved slowly. Drug producers and traffickers have now moved into the smuggling of immigrants, children and women, arms, clothes, cars, music and movies. They have also branched out onto prostitution, kidnapping, extortion and even the collection of “taxes”.
The expansion of these groups has made crime an industry that generates up to 30 billion U.S. dollars annually, according to figures from El Colegio de la Frontera Norte. These funds undoubtedly inject dynamism into the economy.
It is no accident nor a mistake, then, that Forbes magazine has included Joaquin Guzman Loera, El Chapo, in its list of the richest men in the world, because in reality the Sinaloa cartel is one of the leading participants in the generation of capital, the economic model based on the free movement of goods worldwide.
It is no accident that youth who do not have many employment or educational opportunities, or expectations of personal and social progress, see the figure of the drug lord as a successful model. “It is better to live 20 years with money, women and cars, than 60 years old, sick and poor,” is the idea that has permeated many of the young Mexicans who are recruited by organized crime.
Poverty, unemployment and lack of educational facilities are generating a ready reserve army for the various criminal groups, which offer salaries for those without any horizon of hope in their lives.
Not only are drug lords co-opting the youth, but also police and soldiers, professionals and businessmen, investors and financial speculators and, above all, the political authorities, all of them lured by easy money.
The system of corruption which for years has been fueled by each and every one of us is the best breeding ground for the flourishing of “Narco” society. All of our political, social, economic and religious institutions have a responsibility for the growth of organized crime, either by action or omission.
Organized crime now wields enormous power, no one can deny this fact. The war declared by Felipe Calderón has increased that power by not defeating it. That usually happens in any war, survivors become stronger.
Against this background, proposing a deal with organized crime to stop the violence before us would be a mistake with serious consequences in the future. It would strengthen and empower them, establishing them as true authorities and give them legitimacy. In effect, this would cede territory and sanction their powers.
This is what the drug cartels ultimately desire, to create a "co-government" and share it with the political power. The temptation for the next president of Mexico is exactly that, to fall into the idea of making a pact with several organized crime groups, and through the self-regulation of cartels themselves, achieve the peace that Mexicans demand.
But this would signify sharing the functions that the State monopolizes, such as security, territory and tax collection. And this represents the emergence of a parallel state.
The burden of this fear and terror is driving us to think that that the way out of this hell is to deal with the “Narcos”, and there is nothing more false and illusory than the belief that they would respect the pact out of a code of honor. On the contrary, the next president would be granting a license to continue the killing and to continue building the rule of terror from which organized crime draws its power.