Zenpundit has a post up about how gunmen employed by one of the drug cartels in northern Mexico have demanded that an entire town empty out. They want the people gone, or else they will start killing.

Zen thinks this is the start of the end for Mexico, and sees a potential flood of refugees from our neighbor to the south.

To anyone interested in the subject, thought you might appreciate the news that the cartels are now attacking Mexican army bases.

A last and hopeless act of desperation by criminals who are on the ropes, or a canny move to test the security of their greatest foes?

We shall see.

(Hat tip to Scott, who snarks like mad when he says “Man, this never would have happened without American gun shows.”)

7 thoughts on “Escalation”

  1. It is a risk free action for the lords of drugs. If they say the magic words, get an endorsement from Castro, Ortega and Chavez – get support from a few colonels or maybe a some sergeants (as in Liberia) and take over the army and then hold some show trials, Obama will do nothing. He may even offer help as he has the to rebels in Nicaragua and to the Colombian drug lords (FARC). In any case Obama will never invade – he prefers talking. He will offer asylum because he needs Mexican votes in November.

    The question remains will Mexicans living in Mexico be better off or worse off governed by drug lords ? Will Mexicans continue to pour across the border or will they go home?

  2. “Obama will do nothing. He may even offer help as he has the to rebels in Nicaragua and to the Colombian drug lords (FARC). In any case Obama will never invade – he prefers talking. He will offer asylum because he needs Mexican votes in November.”

    “Never let a serious crisis go to waste. What I mean by that is it’s an opportunity to do things you couldn’t do before.”
    White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel

  3. I guess they are getting those armored vehicles and grenade launchers at gun shows. Could anyone let me know which ones ? My armored vehicle has pretty high mileage. Time to trade it in.

  4. The Zetas – at least the original ones, supplemented by ex- elite troops from Guatemala – are much better trained and armed than is the typical Mexican infantryman. Many of those original Zetas were real pros ( and we should know, because our SOF trained them). They have zeta cells in the US here specifically to kill small time drug dealers and middle-men who attenpt to cheat on their drug payments. So far, they have kept a very low profile and avoided any “non-business” violence like political terrorism that would bring the DoD/CIA down on them. But that could change quickly if the cartels get desperate. Again, nothing magical about the US that makes car bombs inert.

    Not sure where the narcos they are getting their armored cars(!) but Soviet style RPGs, grenades and high tech weapons are available in plenty on the international arms market. I would not at all be surprised if there’s also a flow of military weapons going from Venezuela to Nicaragua to the cartels. No evidence for that, just speculation on my part.

  5. Mexico is what happens when you try to establish fascism (as defined by B. Mussolini & Co., close control of private business to support national unity and social justice) on top of a strong oligarchy, and don’t have quite the force to put it through all the way. The result is a bizarre sort of equal-opportunity oligarchy. In Mexico, anybody with significant wealth is a patron (with accent on the “o”) and is expected to be fatherly toward subordinates. There is a definite pecking order among the oligarchs, defined by social connections, but it’s much less important than the division between the oligarchs and everybody else.

    In this atmosphere, a drug cartel’s leaders are no less and no more oligarchs than any other with money. They can recruit workers and subordinates on the same level. Recall that you can’t “earn” or “make” money in Spanish — they use the same word (“ganar”, to gain) for wages and windfalls. Mix that with Socialist teachings, and all wealth is ill-gotten; “rich” is the successful subset of “criminal”, for industrialist and drug dealer alike.

    The Mexican Army is well-nigh toothless, and this is by design. The founders of the present-day system were well aware of the dangers of Generals’ coups, and wanted no part of any such thing, so the system has never provided enough support for the military to allow it to gain any significant power in politics. Soldiers all the way up to the lower grade of officer are poorly paid and poorly trained; higher officers get more money and are expected to act as patrons to their subordinates. There is nothing whatever comparable to the US’s system of strong NCOs with real responsibilities — sergeants in the Mexican system are straw-bosses, not leaders. I know little about how the Spanish did or do their military, but the Mexican system is strongly reminiscent of the British Regimental system prior to WWI. This all made sense until recently. Mexico has no military enemies, or (if the US can fit in the “enemy” category) none they could credibly defend against, so a strong army would be of little use and a good deal of political danger.

    As a result of all that, the likelihood of the Mexican Army doing anything about drug cartels is remote. In the eyes of the ordinary Mexican there is no moral distance between the leader of a cartel and, say, Carlos Slim, so the incentive to “punish criminals” doesn’t exist. Assigning punishment duty to lightly-armed, poorly trained quasi-soldiers will get you a lot of dead kids and not much else. Mexicans love their country, but chauvinistically rather than patriotically, and don’t feel obligated to defend it against depredations no different in character to what they get every day from the bosses at PeMex or Chrysler. They are neither lazy nor stupid, but they believe what they learned as children, and that’s quite, quite different from anything an American is taught, or has been taught until recently.


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