Mex­ico qui­etly marks 10 years of drug war

Kuwait Times - - INTERNATIONAL -

MEX­ICO CITY: Ten years af­ter Mex­i­can troops were un­leashed against drug car­tels, the coun­try will mark the an­niver­sary without fan­fare to­day, with mur­ders ris­ing again and the mil­i­tary ea­ger to re­turn to bar­racks. Pres­i­dent En­rique Pena Ni­eto, who in­her­ited the drug war when he took of­fice in De­cem­ber 2012, has promised his coun­try­men and women a “Mex­ico in peace.”

His gov­ern­ment has cre­ated a new fed­eral po­lice force and im­pris­oned or killed sev­eral drug king­pins, but Pena Ni­eto has kept troops on the ground de­spite al­le­ga­tions of abuses and crit­i­cism from hu­man rights groups. The ad­min­is­tra­tion has no events planned to com­mem­o­rate the con­tro­ver­sial de­ploy­ment that was launched by his pre­de­ces­sor, Felipe Calderon, on De­cem­ber 11, 2006.

Ten days af­ter tak­ing of­fice, Calderon de­ployed some 5,000 troops to his west­ern home state of Mi­choa­can-the start of a mil­i­ta­rized cam­paign against drug traf­fick­ing. Calderon’s six-year term was marked by a surge in mur­ders, ris­ing from 10,253 in 2007 to a peak of 22,852 in 2011. The fig­ure dropped in the first two years of Pena Ni­eto’s pres­i­dency, only to rise again in 2015. Although mur­ders re­main well un­der the worst years of Calderon’s pres­i­dency, there were 17,063 homi­cides in the first 10 months of 2016, al­ready sur­pass­ing last year’s 12month to­tal of 17,034. Smaller gangs, big­ger prob­lems Much of the blood­shed is blamed on ul­tra-vi­o­lent turf wars be­tween drug gangs. The gov­ern­ment has cap­tured ma­jor fugi­tives, such as the Si­naloa drug car­tel’s pow­er­ful leader, Joaquin “El Chapo” Guz­man. But the weak­en­ing of ma­jor drug car­tels such as the Bel­tran Leyva, Ze­tas, Gulf and Knights Tem­plar has led to the emer­gence of smaller gangs that seek to di­ver­sify their busi­ness through kid­nap­pings and ex­tor­tion.

“The war has be­come much more com­plex. The level of death has es­ca­lated,” Raul Ben­itez Ma­naut, a se­cu­rity ex­pert at the Na­tional Au­ton­o­mous Univer­sity of Mex­ico, told AFP. The drug car­tels have ter­ror­ized the pop­u­la­tion by leav­ing the de­cap­i­tated bod­ies of their ri­vals on road­sides or hang­ing them on bridges, while mass graves are reg­u­larly found in the coun­try­side.

Po­lice have been ac­cused of col­lud­ing with crim­i­nals while sol­diers and marines have faced al­le­ga­tions of com­mit­ting tor­ture, ex­tra­ju­di­cial killings and sex­ual abuse. Even De­fense Min­is­ter Salvador Cien­fue­gos agrees that troops do not be­long in a law en­force­ment role. “We didn’t ask to be here. We don’t like it. We didn’t study how to chase crim­i­nals,” Cien­fue­gos said on Thurs­day. He said he would be the first to raise “not one, but two hands” in fa­vor of re­turn­ing troops to bar­racks. “Our func­tion is some­thing else and it’s been made into some­thing un­nat­u­ral. We are do­ing things that don’t cor­re­spond to our train­ing be­cause there’s no one else to do them,” the min­is­ter said.

Though Pena Ni­eto ac­knowl­edged on Fri­day that the armed forces were do­ing tasks that “don’t cor­re­spond to them in the strictest sense,” he in­sisted that they are “de­ter­mined to con­tinue” polic­ing the streets. And fed­eral po­lice in Jalisco state Fri­day ar­rested Je­sus Bel­tran Guz­man-a son of one of the Bel­tran Leyva car­tel’s founders and a nephew of “El Chapo” — in a drug bust, au­thor­i­ties said.

Grim cases

But Javier Oliva, a Mex­i­can se­cu­rity ex­pert at the Lon­don School of Eco­nom­ics, said “there is no strat­egy” and the troops are al­ways one step be­hind. Drug con­sump­tion in the United States, mean­while, has not ceased and the le­gal­iza­tion of mar­i­juana in sev­eral US states has prompted drug car­tels to step up pro­duc­tion of heroin while syn­thetic drugs pro­lif­er­ate.

— AP

ACA­PULCO: A foren­sic medic in­ves­ti­gates the crime scene where two peo­ple were shot dead by uniden­ti­fied at­tacker.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Kuwait

© PressReader. All rights reserved.