A ride by L.A., part II

Onsdag, 29. Juli 2009     0 kommentti(a)
Hiramy Prieto

In a sequel to yesterday’s Latin America action movie, we have Mexico, at war against drug cartels which at the same time are fighting their own war, specially the groups “Los Zetas” (Gulf Cartel) against “La Familia” (Cartel of Michoacan). Both cartels have been fighting for control of Michoacan, a key state in western Mexico giving drug traffickers access to routes for smuggling drugs into USA. From January to July, more than 3,800 killings have been registered in Mexico alone.

“La Familia”, a very dangerous organization, is based on almost cult-like principles and codes. For its members it is like a religion. Currently, the group is the largest and most powerful criminal organization in Michoacan - a largely rural state located on Mexico's southeastern Pacific coast - and maintains a significant presence in several surrounding states. The group has succeeded corrupting politicians and authorities across Michoacan and employs thousands of people in its illegal and legal businesses such as restaurants, hotels and gas stations.

“Los Zetas” are considered by the DEA (Drug Enforcement Administration) as the most sophisticated and technologically advanced cartel. “Los Zetas” have set up camps in which to train recruits as well as ex-federal, state, and local police officers. In addition, they have as members ex-Kaibiles from Guatemala (soldiers that are trained in guerrilla warfare, counter-guerrilla operations, psychological preparation, military intelligence and survival techniques) The cartel is well organized with contacts around the world and in Europe with the Ndrangheta in Italy.

The oddity of the story is that the top leader of “La Familia” went to a radio show last week and offered a truce. He was ready to negotiate with the federal government, because “La Familia” has been attacked by the government and by the powerful Gulf cartel. President Calderon refused at once to make pacts with criminal organizations.

In the last scene of this action movie we see a video in which a top-leader of the FARC (Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia) which is catalogued by the DEA as a narco-terrorist organization, declares that indeed in 2006 they had financed the presidential campaign of the President of Ecuador Rafael Correa, something that has been debated a lot lately.

From Bolivia to Mexico there are almost 50 cartels and countless gangs and mini-cartels giving work to thousands of people and in many cases supported by segments of the population due to their paternalistic activities. Two-thirds of the narcotics travel along Central America to markets in North America.

Are Latin America and the world losing the fight against drugs? The illegal drug industry is part of the economy but is it the new power behind some governments?

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