The only genuine threat to America continues to grow; that is, the drugs, violence and corrupting money of the Mexican cartels. More drugs than ever – heroin and opioids – are pouring across the border. And more murders than ever are devastating Mexico, a record 27,000 in 2017. It’s become one of most dangerous countries in the world today, and it’s not even at war.
That development is getting a little more media attention, but not much compared to the hysteria over Russia, which is no threat to the U.S. – at least under Putin. (Guess what? A neo-Stalin could emerge in reaction to U.S. prodding.) Until recently, the cartels were careful not to antagonize Americans, who seem indifferent to the slaughter of Mexicans but respond briskly to any attacks on them or their interests. That caution may be ending. Americans vacationing at Mexico’s five-star resorts are getting into various kinds of trouble, and Coca-Cola has just shut down its largest bottling plant in Mexico after repeated cartel violence against it.
The plant is situated in one of the most violent states, Guerrero, whose murder rate is six times higher than that of Louisiana, the American state with the highest homicide rate. Guerrero is also home to the once popular resort Acapulco, now off limits as the murder capital of Mexico. It. too, is an abandoned playground of Americans.
Mexican and U.S. authorities have concentrated on targeting cartel chiefs, which is known as “cartel decapitation.” It hasn’t worked. While garnering publicity, it has splintered the cartels so that competition among them is fiercer than ever with an upsurge in violence. If blocked at the border, they turn to internal pursuits like kidnapping, theft, shaking down businesses. They’ve tapped into Pemex oil’s 5,600 miles of pipeline that nets them a billion dollars a year, obviously contributing to that state-owned company’s significant losses.
The Guardian reports that the citizens of Reynosa, just south of the Texas border, must check ahead of time on any route they take. Has a shooting just occurred on a particular street, or does it seem to be safe? It’s a matter of life or death, says Sofia, a medical assistant. “It doesn’t rain water here. It rains lead.” There’s no press coverage of the crime since journalists tend to be killed for reporting it. In effect, the cartels dictate press coverage along with everything else that goes on in Mexico. It could be termed a cartel government financed by the drugs sold across the border.
So far, the Trump Administration hasn’t done much about it. There’s continuing talk of a wall, which at its best is a minor impediment to the drug flow. It mostly comes across at checkpoints ingeniously concealed. Nogales, Arizona, a prime entry, has made progress with an 18-foot high fence of steel bars guarded by the greatest number of agents per capita on the border. Still more are needed to facilitate normal crossings so that border life can go on as usual. Personnel are paramount. Perhaps President Trump, who has expressed skepticism about overseas wars where there’s no threat to the U.S., could bring some troops home and put them on the border where there definitely is a threat.