American President Donald Trump wants to categorize Mexican drug cartels as foreign “terrorist organizations”. His announcement came after nine American women and children were killed by members of a drug cartel in Mexico on Nov. 4, 2019. Three women and six children, members of the La Nora Mormon community in Sonora state, Mexico, were killed after their convoy was ambushed in the daytime by cartel members. The victims, who held dual Mexican and American citizenship, were part of a community that farms land in northern Mexico.
“This is the time for Mexico, with the help of the United States, to wage WAR on the drug cartels and wipe them off the face of the earth,” Trump tweeted following the attack.
‘The Police Work With The Criminals’
Mexican federal officials announced that they are investigating the possibility that the crime group had mistaken the victims as rival crime groups.
“It’s common knowledge down here that the police work with the criminals,” Julián LeBarón, a cousin of the victims said.
“They have a monopoly on security and they get paid a wage for protection, and later we find out that they participate in the murder of women and children. These people take resources to protect us and they are murderers themselves,” he added.
Mr LeBarón also claimed that authorities arrived at the scene of the crime ten hours later. He added that his brother was murdered ten years ago, after standing up to local gangs.
“I’ve been marching in Mexico and speaking out against the violence, and I have never seen a case where a victim has had justice. The justice system has collapsed. The impunity rate is almost 100 percent,” he said, adding that nobody had been brought to trial for the murder of his brother.
Case Study: Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte’s Drug War
Three years ago, Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte, declared a war on drugs, winning the election on a platform of strictly conservative ideals. Under Duterte, Filipino police have been given unprecedented power and granted quasi-total impunity to kill suspected drug dealers and drug users. In a July 2018 speech delivered at the Session Hall of the House of Representatives in the Philippines, Duterte said: “the war against illegal drugs is far from over. Where before, the war resulted in the seizure of illegal drugs worth millions of pesos, today, they run [into] billions in peso value.
“This is why the illegal drugs war will not be sidelined. Instead, it will be as relentless and chilling, if you will, as on the day it began. These drug dealers know fully well that their business is against the law. They know the consequences of their criminal acts, especially when caught in flagrante delicto and they violently resist arrest … They know that illegal drugs waste away lives, dysfunctionalize families, and ruin relationships. They know that once hooked, addicts will die slowly – slow deaths. And yet, they persist in doing what they do, oblivious to the terrible harm that they cause to the people and communities,” Duterte added.
Commenting one week later, Rachel Chhoa Howard, Amnesty International’s Philippines Researcher, criticized Duterete’s speech.
“Thousands of people in the Philippines have died as a direct result of President Duterte’s murderous policies, which have mostly targeted the country’s poorest people,” she said, adding that “Duterte’s claim to be a defender of human life is an insult to the families of these victims, especially coming after his public vow to continue the killings, which Amnesty International considers to be a crime against humanity.
“The right to life is a human right and the distinction President Duterte is trying to draw is completely false. While human rights groups have decried the thousands of extrajudicial executions carried out in the guise of an anti-drugs campaign, President Duterte has bragged about the slaughter and actively incited more violence,” Howard added.
The High Cost Of Tolerating Drug Dealers In Society
The criminal and human costs of drug and crime cartels are undeniable, but ruthless violence is not the answer. Duterte and Trump’s political answers to centuries-old social issues are ultra-right-wing responses whereby order is prioritized through totalitarian use of hard power. The failure of totalitarianism is that it prioritizes order above all else—including human life.
Trump’s desire to designate Mexican drug cartel as foreign terrorist organizations is an ultimate power move to increase US jurisdiction over Mexican governance. It increases the possibility of sending more US troops to Mexico, at a time when Trump still hasn’t explained why US troops are present in 53 African countries.
The struggle for power over who combats Mexicans drug and crime cartels will only escalate tensions between the already-strained Mexican-USA relationship.
Earlier this month on Dec. 6, Trump tweeted: “ … will temporarily hold off this designation [to classify Mexican drug cartels as terrorist organisations] and step up our joint efforts to deal decisively with these vicious and ever-growing organizations!”
It shouldn’t be overlooked by anyone that Trump’s promises to fight drug cartels – like Duterte’s – always seem to come just before an election period. Neither is it possible to miss that the US’ demand for drugs is funding a significant part of the Mexican drug cartels. Paul Angelo, a fellow for Latin America studies at the Council of Foreign Relations, added to this theory of “shared responsibility” between the US and Mexico.
“If we really accept that we have a shared responsibility – we have a partnership in helping Mexico with all its criminality – then we also have to take responsibility for all the firearms that are flowing out from the United States to Mexico and helping fuel this violence,” Angelo commented.
Trump’s concern with Mexican drug cartels is simply a way n effective to pander to his voters, stay in the Oval Office and consolidate his power.