Mexican Elections: The Drug Cartels Win

In the recent Mexican national elections Claudia Sheinbaum became the first woman to win the Presidency, a notable achievement. Otherwise, there was little to celebrate. It was a clear drug cartel victory employing their usual campaign tactics – threats, disappearances, kidnappings and the murder at last count of some forty candidates who had dared criticize ever so slightly cartel activities. Not to mention all those who chose not to participate for fearing a similar fate.

The living: President elected Claudia Sheinbaum

The mayor of the small coastal town Zipolite had been fatally shot in broad daylight in front of the municipal building. It was unreported, but the townspeople got the message. When Al Jazeera correspondent Belen Fernandez phoned a friend to see who would replace the mayor, he replied: “No one wants the job.”  She writes: “Multiply the case of Zipolite across the entire expanse of Mexico, and you get an idea of just how free the election was.”

President elect Sheinbaum is well aware of this and will proceed cautiously in office as she has as mayor of Mexico City. No serious talk about crime while she attended to other civic affairs. She is close to the President she succeeded, Lopez Obrador, who boasted of his policy of “Hugs, not Bullets,” meaning useful social programs, especially for the young, and not undue harshness toward the cartels. They happily responded not with hugs but with ever more bullets.

Women in politics are not immune to this violence. Shortly after Sheinbaum was elected, Yolanda Sanchez, mayor of the town of Cortija, was shot to death along with her bodyguard. As usual there have been no arrests. It’s estimated that ninety percent of all murders in Mexico are unsolved. Sanchez had been receiving death threats since taking office and a year ago she was confronted by a group of armed men who insisted that she put town security in the hands of state police officers in the pay of the cartels. Apparently, she did not comply.

The Deceased: Mayor Yolanda Sanchez

Running for mayor of Celaya, Bertha Gisela Gaytan said if elected, she would seek to control the ever mounting violence. Not a chance. On the first day of her campaign a hit squad lay in wait and opened fire at point-blank range, then sped off on motorcycles never to be apprehended. She was left lying on the street, blood flowing from her head as seen online.

With top officials under their control, the cartels are focusing on smaller targets around the country. Towns that have escaped visits are now getting regular calls to be of assistance by helping with drug routes, supplying recruits or providing local businesses for extortion. Taco producers are now a prime target, leading to a sixty per cent increase in the price of that favorite Mexican food.

The cartels are obviously not waging a class war for the poor who are all the more easily robbed. No bodyguards to get in the way. They also don’t discriminate politically in their victims. Liberal or conservative, left or right, are all suitable targets. In the city of Maravatio,  two mayoral candidates of opposing parties were killed almost at the same time. You are a cartel backed candidate or you ‘re in trouble.

Cartels look contemptuously northward at Washington. All this talk about human rights all over the globe but not next door in Mexico, leading to suspicions that the U.S. or an element of it may not be so keen on drug eradication after all, given the immense riches involved. Drugs slip across the open border so easily in great lethal quantities. American media continue to regard Mexico as just another standard nation with a nagging crime problem when in fact the criminals run the nation – a true narco state. Please don’t wake up, plead the cartels. We’ve never had it so good.

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