Mexico AG: Even pretending to care is too exhausting

Even when they’re not directly (or at least provably) working for the cartels, Mexican officials are so terrible at their jobs they can’t even muster the energy to pretend to give a damn from a public relations standpoint:

After weeks fielding questions about the abduction and apparent massacre of 43 trainee teachers by corrupt police in league with drug gang members, Mexico’s Attorney General Jesus Murillo has had enough.
[…]
Facing a grilling over the details of the case, which has sent shockwaves across Mexico and triggered outrage at impunity, Murillo sought to wrap up a news conference on Friday evening, arching his eyebrows with the aside “Ya me canse”, or “I’ve had enough”. The phrase came shortly after he told the press that the trainee teachers were apparently incinerated by drug gang henchmen and their remains tipped in a garbage dump and a river.

 
The current administration in Mexico is a complete joke. They’ve sealed themselves off, in Mexico City’s sanctuary, away from the cartel wars engulfing the rest of the country in one of the most violent civil conflicts in the world right now. They are touting economic reforms and rising trade with China like nothing is happening, just pretending it’s just a beautiful day in the neighborhood being ruined by debbie-downers complaining about beheadings, mass executions, and human incineration. This man — theoretically heading the nation’s “law” “enforcement” “efforts” — has the audacity to say he’s “had enough” of being questioned by journalists and grieving parents about why nothing is being done to bring justice to their missing and murdered children, but he clearly hasn’t “had enough” of the violence to do something real.
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October 29, 2014 – Arsenal For Democracy 105

AFD-logo-470

Topics: Media coverage of Nigeria, comparing Mexico’s cartels to ISIS, reform Islam versus billionaire barons. People: Nate, Bill. People: Bill, Nate. Produced: October 26th, 2014.

Discussion Points:

– Why is Western media reporting on Nigeria so bad?
– Is Mexico’s Cartel War a bigger threat than the Syrian Civil War and the spread of ISIS?
– How big money for extremist causes is overriding Sunni Islam’s natural tendencies across the world

Episode 105 (56 min)
AFD 105

Related links
Segment 1

AFD: The Farce that is Nigeria’s Armed Forces
AFD: There was never a truce in Nigeria, just so we’re clear

Segment 2

Al Jazeera America: Mexican drug cartels are worse than ISIL
AFD: Mexico’s war: Still a bigger threat to the US than Syria’s
Global Post: Mexico’s vigilantes are building scrappy DIY tanks to fight narcos
NYT: 43 Missing Students, a Mass Grave and a Suspect: Mexico’s Police
The Daily Beast: She Tweeted Against the Mexican Cartels. They Tweeted Her Murder.

Segment 3

The Globalist: Reform Islam Vs. Billionaire Barons

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Mexico’s war: Still a bigger threat to the US than Syria’s

There are heavily armed militant groups with substantial military experience terrorizing, extorting, and beheading people in a major oil-producing desert country to the south of a NATO member, who have had a destabilizing effect across borders in a wide region encompassing many countries. They lack popular support and rule their territory primarily by fear. They are the Mexican cartels, and we haven’t bombed them at all (unlike ISIS), even as they have captured and held territory for years on end.

That parallel occurred to me a number of weeks ago, when I was reading up on the development of Los Zetas, the cartel that emerged from the Mexican military itself, but I didn’t have enough hard numbers to back up the argument. Then I read this article by Musa al-Gharbi.

The overall numbers are astonishing:

A recent United Nations report estimated nearly 9,000 civilians have been killed and 17,386 wounded in Iraq in 2014, more than half since ISIL fighters seized large parts on northern Iraq in June. It is likely that the group is responsible another several thousand deaths in Syria. To be sure, these numbers are staggering. But in 2013 drug cartels murdered more than 16,000 people in Mexico alone, and another 60,000 from 2006 to 2012 — a rate of more than one killing every half hour for the last seven years. What is worse, these are estimates from the Mexican government, which is known to deflate the actual death toll by about 50 percent.

 
ISIS is held up, as well, for its barbarity. But the cartels in Mexico have them beat there too:

Statistics alone does not convey the depravity and threat of the cartels. They carry out hundreds of beheadings every year. Beyond decapitation, the cartels are known to dismember and otherwise mutilate the corpses of their victims — displaying piles of bodies prominently in towns to terrorize the public into compliance. They routinely target women and children to further intimidate communities. Like ISIL, the cartels also use social media to post graphic images of their atrocious crimes.

The narcos also recruit child soldiers, molding boys as young as 11 into assassins or sending them on suicide missions during armed confrontations with Mexico’s army. They kidnap tens of thousands of children every year to use as drug mules or prostitutes or to simply kill and harvest their organs for sale on the black market. Those who dare to call for reforms often end up dead. In September, with the apparent assistance of local police, cartels kidnapped and massacred 43 students at a teaching college near the Mexican town of Iguala in response to student protests, leaving their bodies in a mass grave, mutilated and burned almost beyond recognition.

 
There has been a far more systematic campaign against reporters and citizen journalists in Mexico than anything we’ve seen from ISIS.

While the Islamic militants have killed a handful of journalists, the cartels murdered as many as 57 since 2006 for reporting on cartel crimes or exposing government complicity with the criminals. Much of Mexico’s media has been effectively silenced by intimidation or bribes. These censorship activities extend beyond professional media, with narcos tracking down and murdering ordinary citizens who criticize them on the Internet, leaving their naked and disemboweled corpses hanging in public squares.

 
The treatment of women is at least as bad under the Mexican cartels as under ISIS but on a much vaster scale:

[…] Westerners across various political spectrums were outraged when ISIL seized 1,500 Yazidi women, committing sexual violence against the captives and using them as slaves. Here again, the cartels’ capture and trafficking of women dwarfs that of ISIL’s crimes. Narcos hold tens of thousands of Mexican citizens as slaves for their various enterprises and systematically use rape as a weapon of war.

 
U.S. airstrikes this summer in Iraq began when ISIS forces came within a few dozen miles of the U.S. consulate in Erbil in the Kurdistan Region of Iraq, while U.S. airstrikes in Syria came after two beheadings in Raqqa, Syria. How does that stack up with Mexico?

U.S. media have especially hyped ISIL’s violence against Americans. This summer ISIL beheaded two Americans and has warned about executing a third; additionally, one U.S. Marine has died in efforts to combat the group. By contrast, the cartels killed 293 Americans in Mexico from 2007 to 2010 and have repeatedly attacked U.S. consulates in Mexico. While ISIL’s beheadings are no doubt outrageous, the cartels tortured, dismembered and then cooked one of the Americans they captured — possibly eating him or feeding him to dogs.

 
ISIS has not staged any attacks in the United States, or killed large numbers of U.S. citizens anywhere for that matter. In contrast, the Mexican cartels have not only staged attacks and assassinations inside the United States but have killed more U.S. citizens inside the United States itself than were killed by al-Qaeda on 9/11.

The cartels’ atrocities are not restricted to the Mexican side of the border. From 2006 to 2010 as many as 5,700 Americans were killed in the U.S. by cartel-fueled drug violence. By contrast, 2,937 people were killed in the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks. Over the last decade, some 2,349 Americans were killed in Afghanistan, and 4,487 Americans died in Iraq. In four years the cartels have managed to cause the deaths of more Americans than during 9/11 or either of those wars.

 
Cult-like pseudo-military organizations controlling large swathes of territory and local government administrations in one of the world’s largest oil producers, while threatening and attacking American citizens and interests regularly, but the United States doesn’t intervene militarily? How bizarre.
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The Americanos’ Day (Or: In Defense of ‘Cinco De Mayo’)

Battle-of-Puebla-1862Ah, Cinco de Mayo. The annual day where snooty Americans get to tell other Americans (who are really just trying to drink in peace while wearing face paint in the Mexican national colors) that “actually” Cinco de Mayo “isn’t a real Mexican holiday” and “has no importance or significance” — and then even snootier Americans (like me!) get to tell the first group that the Second French Empire’s defeat in the Battle of Puebla was strategically important to the preservation of the Union during the U.S. Civil War, by preventing Napoleon III from invading to help the Confederacy.

To this day, even though the holiday is not widely celebrated in Mexico (because it was not very important within Mexico as a whole in the long run, since the French won the war anyway at least briefly), it’s important to acknowledge what makes it so unusual in the United States:

1) It’s a rare day where Mexican culture and heritage is openly celebrated in a country that includes the territory that used to be of about half of Mexico. These areas make up parts or all of ten U.S. states now. And the country at large is home to millions of people of Mexican descent. They deserve more than a day. Don’t take this one away!

2) The holiday’s U.S. roots began in the State of California when news of the 1862 victory in Puebla, Mexico reached the Mexican miners in California. Both the United States and Mexico were being torn apart by war at the time. The anniversary of the battle has been celebrated every year since 1863 in California. (1863!) When people say “it’s not a real Mexican holiday,” that minimizes the fact that it’s essentially always been a celebration of Californian Mexican-Americans.

Thus, it’s a great way to celebrate Mexico’s culture and close historical ties to the United States — something that has tragically been forgotten amid the push for bigger border fences and a rising tide of anti-Mexican xenophobia.

And even though Puebla is a southern Mexican state, it is a convenient reason to celebrate the cross-border regional culture of northern Mexico and Alta California/Nuevo Mexico, or the U.S. Southwest.

Mexico has long had many of the same sectional differences that plague(d) the United States. The gross Anglo-American Slaveholders Revolt in Tejas that led to the creation of an independent Texas is a dark mark. But beyond them, a lot of actual (non-U.S.) northern Mexicans wanted out from the rest of the country. Most got it, via the Mexican Cession (though that probably wasn’t what most residents had in mind), but a few states were left behind. They remained close with the United States — often more so than with central Mexico. Until big migration restrictions were put into place, there was a lot of economic activity back and forth in both directions between the American Southwest and northern Mexico, even well into the twentieth century.

U.S. history has long been closely intertwined with Mexican history, both for good and ill. It’s pretty great that a century and a half later, a lot of Americans (including non-Mexicans) take at least one day to acknowledge (however casually, in some cases) that almost a third of the U.S. mainland by area used to be half of another country and that Mexican-Americans still part of both our history and present.

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And if nothing else, I just want to reiterate that the “insignificant” battle kept the French intervention force distracted in Mexico long enough for the U.S. Army to regain the momentum and win the Civil War before the Confederates could persuade any European governments to help them.