Mexico’s increasing gang activity is due to AMLO’s failed security strategies, analysts say
August 31, 2022
Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador (AMLO) promised a security strategy of “abrazos no balazos,” or “hugs not bullets,” during his presidential campaign. But his proposed demilitarized approach to security has not manifested. Instead, he has turned to a militarized strategy in governance, announcing efforts to make the National Guard a branch of the Army, removing civilian control from the body. AMLO had merged the country’s Federal Police into the National Guard in 2019. Despite the government’s efforts to curb the insecurity plaguing the country, violence—especially that perpetrated by criminal organizations—has continued to increase significantly over the course of the AMLO administration. “Homicides have more than doubled since 2016, extortion has risen,” writes the Washington Post, as criminal groups have remained undeterred by the presence of law enforcement.
According to the New York Times, “the endless bloodshed — a signal of a government losing control over the country — has been exacerbated by the transformative security strategy put in place by the current president…which gutted intelligence operations and so far has failed to quell the carnage.” The author continues, explaining that “under these changes, Mexico lost nearly half of its intelligence capacity to investigate and dismantle the country’s vast criminal networks, feeding the impunity that enables crime.”
This void has allowed criminal groups to expand their activity, especially in production of illegal drugs such as fentanyl, reports the Wall Street Journal. Two of Mexico's largest organized crime groups, the rival Sinaloa Cartel and Jalisco New Generation Cartel (CJNG), have taken over the market of fentanyl production, becoming critical suppliers for the US market. These cartels, as well as others, have in the past harassed, attacked, and killed police officers, offering law enforcement officials “strong incentive… to collaborate with criminal groups or to look the other way,” writes Insight Crime, noting that corruption amongst law enforcement officials has also played a role in the increase in violence.
As Shannon O’Neil writes in the Washington Post, one of the major obstacles for ensuring justice and security in Mexico is the lack of funding these areas receive: “Its security budget of far less than 1% of its GDP is less than half the OECD average,” she notes.
70% of women and girls above the age of 15 in Mexico report having experienced “some form of violence,” says Reuters. This is an increase of 4 percentage points since 2016.
“Relatives of some of Mexico’s over 100,000 missing people marched through downtown Mexico City Tuesday to demand authorities find their sons, daughters, parents and siblings,” reports AP. Mexico and Colombia are the two countries with the highest number of disappearances across Latin America, notes Télam.
Increasing emigration from Brazil, particularly among those with higher education, is a bad sign for the country’s economic outlook, writes Oliver Steunkel at Americas Quarterly.
“Invasions and illegal extraction of natural resources in Brazil's protected indigenous lands have tripled since President Jair Bolsonaro took office in 2019, according to a report by Indigenous Missionary Council (CIMI) in Brazil,” notes CNN.
A new investigation reveals that “Jair Bolsonaro and his closest relatives bought 107 properties over the last 30 years and at least 51 of those properties were bought with cash,” opening up questions about corruption and the origin of the money, reports The Guardian.
Ana Rodríguez provides an update of recent news in Chile, highlighting the constitutional plebiscite to be voted on this upcoming Sunday at Chile 2021 Update (August 29, 2022).
Misinformation and “half-truths” about Chile’s proposed constitution are widespread on social media, and “65% of respondents reported encountering misinformation in the last week of July,” reports Reuters.
“Cubans are fleeing their country in the largest numbers in more than four decades, choosing to stake their lives and futures on a dangerous journey to the United States by air, land and sea to escape economic and political woes,” reports AP.
As of August 8, Cristosal has received reports of human rights violations affecting a total of 2,700 individuals in El Salvador since the beginning of the country’s state of exception, notes Gato Encerrado.
“Guyana could emerge as a model for navigating the dual energy nexus—the need to guarantee energy security now while laying the groundwork for the energy transition… The country’s leaders are pro-development, understanding that oil and gas provide both short-term energy security and the capital Guyana needs to invest in renewable energy,” according to The National Interest.
Remittances from the Nicaraguan diaspora are quietly helping fund repression by the Ortega government through taxation on their eventual use in the country, according to Manuel Orozco at Confidencial.
In a new CSIS commentary, Evan Ellis argues that Nicaragua “serves as an entry point for the projection of threats into the region by extra-hemispheric rivals of the United States, such as Russia, Iran, and the People’s Republic of China (PRC).”
“LGBT activists in Peru held a protest on Friday questioning how their government handled the death of a Peruvian transgender man in Indonesia earlier this month who was detained at the airport upon arriving to celebrate his honeymoon,” reports Reuters.
The Andean Community—composed of Bolivia, Colombia, Ecuador, and Peru—has expressed interest in bringing Argentina, Chile, and Venezuela into the group, reports Reuters.
“China’s distant water fishing (DWF) fleet is the worst of various engaged in illegal, unreported, and unregulated (IUU) fishing along South American coasts, but Beijing may be shifting toward supporting a new World Trade Organization agreement that would limit such practices,” explains Mateus Ribeiro da Silva at the AULA Blog.
Nicolás Maduro and Gustavo Petro may meet in person in October, according to the new Colombian ambassador to Venezuela, Armando Benedetti. (Crónica Uno)
Recent elections of left-of-center governments in Latin America are more representative of an anti-incumbency wave than a new “pink tide,” writes Christopher Sabatini at Foreign Affairs. Sabatini adds that these new governments are less interested in foreign policy and international relations than their predecessors.
“The presidents who signed the letter defending Kirchner while refusing to condemn Ortega are being called out by critics in each of their countries. The fact they were willing to sign the letter condemning a judicial action in Argentina shows all the talk about non-interference in domestic affairs is garbage, a useful smokescreen to be used when it’s politically convenient. That they dodged the resolution on Ortega, who has shut down hundreds of NGOs and is currently arresting Catholic priests who are speaking out about human rights abuses, is shameful,” writes James Bosworth at the Latin America Risk Report.