In 2020, according to a report by the City Council of Public Security and Criminal Justice based in Mexico City, seven of the ten “most violent” cities in the world were in Mexico.
The organization classifies cities with a population of 300,000 or more (which are not in declared conflict zones), based on official accounts of intentional homicides.
The city of Celaya in the central Mexican state of Guanajuato came first with 109.38 homicides per 100,000 inhabitants, followed by Tijuana, Ciudad Juárez and Ciudad Obregón. The Irapuato de Guanajuato took fifth place, while the Baja California Cove took sixth place. Uruapan in the state of Michoacán was eighth.
For the country as a whole, 2019 and 2020 were the most violent recorded, with more than 34,000 intentional homicides each year. Many critics of Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador (AMLO) have blamed his policy of “hugs, not bullets” in front of drug cartels for the bloody state of affairs.
But while AMLO certainly deserves more than a bit of criticism, especially in terms of its terribly discarded attitude toward Mexico’s rise in femicides during the pandemic, it didn’t exactly create the current landscape of violence since the ‘air.
To begin with, although Mexico, of course, is not officially classified as a global conflict zone, the country has had the serious misfortune of existing at the mercy of a “war on drugs” backed by the United States since 2006. , 12 years before AMLO assumed the presidency.
Since the start of militarized operations, some 300,000 people have been killed and more than 77,000 have disappeared.
In a hypocritical agreement typical of Mexico’s nasty imperial neighbor, the U.S. is responsible for drug demand, but also for the criminalization that makes its trafficking so lucrative and produces such violent competition, with poor civilians often trapped in the crossfire.
And as the capitalist system thrives on the proliferation of conflicts in general and the marketing of superficial solutions to problems, the U.S. response to the narco confrontation it created across the southern border has been to throw piles of money at corrupt Mexicans. and violent. security forces who are often in bed, with whom more – the cartels.
Moreover, as a Washington Post article from 2020 points out, the “main strategy of the United States,” with which cartel leaders were killed or captured, simply caused criminal organizations to divide and multiply in instead of ceasing to exist spontaneously, as any remote and lucid person might have predicted.
Now, the set of armed groups continues to expand and have also diversified their activities to cover from fuel theft and migrant trafficking to the sale of contraband cigarettes and the production of Fentanyl tablets. The initial focus of the war on drugs in large cities is another factor that contributes to the spread of groups across the country as they fight for route and territory traffic, and for the sudden emergence of little-known places like Celaya, Guanajuato, as global epicenters of violence.
Again, the Citizen Council for Public Safety and Criminal Justice study only lists cities that do not enter official war zones. But luckily, many computers designed for use in war regularly flood Mexican territory from the United States (you guessed it).
Another Washington Post article last year notes that the .50-caliber sniper rifle that has been “used by U.S. troops in Iraq and Afghanistan to attack targets nearly two miles away” – and that it is “accidentally sold” in the US, as weapons tend to be – “increasingly used to attack and terrorize Mexicans.”
Over the past decade, according to the article, approximately 2.5 million illicit weapons in the United States have reportedly arrived in Mexico and the “percentage of homicides committed with firearms has increased” accordingly.
From wars against terrorism that consist largely of terrorizing civilians, to wars against drugs that do the same, the imperial points seem pretty well connected. And it’s likely that the arms industry won’t register too many complaints.
Dawn Marie Paley, author of Drug War Capitalism, commented to me in an email that “the militarization of Mexico for the past 15 years under the discourse of the war on drugs has led to an increase in violence” – the same “pattern that we are seeing in countries all over the hemisphere, many of which are suffering more extreme violence than during the Cold War military juntas ”.
Naturally, not all countries in the hemisphere have had the precise honor of being co-signatories to the 1994 U.S. Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), which quickly dispensed with millions of Mexican livelihoods on behalf of the United States. American agro-industry and other noble sectors, while also making many Mexicans consider their own integration into the drug trade as the only viable economic option.
But, as Paley stressed to me, hemispheric “violence on this scale cannot be properly understood as a consequence of criminal activity and state responses.” More precisely, he said, it should be understood as “neoliberal war, waged against the poor and workers, with the aim of maintaining an increasingly unequal social order.”
Certainly the unequal social orders are excellent as to the generation of the continual struggle on which capitalism thrives. And the current violent Mexican landscape, in which cities like Celaya are transformed into real war zones, is a nexus of a vicious but profitable cycle.
An ABC News article in May cites the penultimate U.S. ambassador to Mexico, Christopher Landau, on how Mexican President AMLO “has basically adopted an agenda of a rather laissez-faire attitude toward” drug cartels, which Landau he states “it’s quite worrying for our government, obviously.”
But there are many more worrying things.
The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the editorial stance of Al Jazeera.