Thursday, October 27, 2011
The lack of security and other little problems
Pa Que Sepas/Carlos
De (falta de) seguridad y otros problemitas
These past weeks I've been thinking how in Mexico, the problem of insecurity has grown from a problem in some localities to become a national problem with serious negative consequences for the economy and society.
How did the country became a paradise for drug trafficking? What failed? Where did we go wrong?
Certainly the fact that our neighbor to the north is the main consumer of drugs in the world is excellent motivation for drug trafficking. Not only is the U.S. the greatest drug user, but it also fails to help us with the arms trade and its border is as corrupt as any Mexican political party.
Yes, the gringos in charge of policing the border are equally, if not more, corrupt than our politicians, but of course, they are much more expensive.
However, I do not think the fault lies with the Americans.
Let your imagination soar (try real hard) and assume that the institutions in Mexico have very little corruption and impunity is almost nonexistent.
In this utopian scenario the problem of drug trafficking would never have grown to today's level. Yes, there would be a drug problem, but it would never have become the problem it is now.
Why? Because the authorities would not have allowed drug traffickers to infiltrate the country's institutions, and would have attacked the problem before it began capturing drug lords that would not be as powerful as they could not grow their influences quite simply because the authorities would not cooperate.
So the ingredients of corruption and impunity are essential for this "cauldron of drug trafficking" and as we all know, it was not yesterday that Mexican politicians suddenly became corrupt. That began several decades ago.
Unfortunately we could say that this is the nature of Mexican politicians (certainly not all, but at the very least most of the important ones are corrupt). Therefore we could say we're talking about a cultural problem and such problems are not solved with a change in Presidents.
For people who are hoping that the next president will end the problems of insecurity, its best you come down from the clouds. This is not a problem that is solved with a change of "sexenio". (sexenios are the 6 year term of office that Mexican Presidents and Governors serve, with no re-election.)
We can say that "since Calderon took office the problem of insecurity has become more serious," Yes and no. Drug trafficking has always existed, only now it manifests itself in a violent way. Why? Because Calderón decided to fight it, and he was right.
The real failure is not in addressing the problem but HOW it is being addressed. It is not being addressed intelligently and strategically. No, it is only being attacked with more violence.
Why doesn't the government act against those companies that lend themselves to money laundering, for example? This will be attacking one of the main financial sources of the "narcos" (drug traffickers). How is it possible that in many cities of the country it is an open secret who the narcos are, or who launders money, and the police fail to act?
If after the start of the next sexenio the violence disappears from one day to the next it is not because the new president has been able to do what Calderón failed to accomplish in 6 years.
No. It will happen because the new president will have made a pact with the drug cartels in which the government does not "bother" them, and they "will not disturb the government or the people." And the consequences of this pact will bring the situation back to what it was in the administrations before Calderon's; ie, the drug cartels will continue to grow and continue to increase their power, but we will not see much blood on the news.
This will eventually turn Mexico into a true "narco state." In reality, many northern cities are now literally narco states. They decide who will govern, and how. The police work for them. People either work for them or leave the city or are killed.
What to do? In my very humble opinion I think it would be a huge mistake if the next president stops fighting the drug cartels, and it would also be a huge mistake to continue fighting them using the same methods.
So I think you have to change strategy. As I mentioned and as many journalists have commented, this problem has to be attacked intelligently. Dismantling the drug cartels financial systems must be a priority because it is the money, and not the weapons, that gives them such power. Without money they can not buy influence, they can not buy weapons or recruit henchmen.
The current war in which the strategy against drug cartels is to attack with violence only is a war that will never end.
If we fight the drug cartels with intelligence we will win, but this will not happen in a single sexenio.
We must also fight the other big problem that led us to this: corruption and impunity. This is the problem that can sink the country in the long-term