Teaching Comparative Government and Politics

Monday, December 05, 2016

The other branch of Mexico's regime

A democratic regime is made up of executive, legislative, and judicial branches. And in Mexico there's another branch: the cartels.

'The only two powerful cartels left': rivals clash in Mexico's murder capital
Manzanillo and the surrounding state of Colima were once best known for their black sand beaches, lime groves and a smoldering volcano that erupts every century or so.

But over the past year, the region has claimed a new title: murder capital of Mexico…

Local officials blame the killings on outsiders or describe it as score-settling between petty criminals.

But analysts of the drug war say the violence is part of a nationwide realignment of organized crime – and a bitter struggle to control the port of Manzanillo, one of the biggest on Mexico’s Pacific coast.

Ten years of a militarised campaign against the cartels has not ended the trade in drugs, or helped enforce rule of law in Mexico. It has, however, weakened or splintered several crime factions, leaving a handful of powerful survivors fighting for the spoils.

Colima is currently the setting for a confrontation between two of the most formidable: the Sinaloa Federation – led by imprisoned capo Joaquín “El Chapo” Guzmán – and the Jalisco New Generation cartel, known by its Spanish initials as the CJNG.

The CJNG – based in the neighbouring state of Jalisco – has already established a reputation as one of the country’s fastest-growing and most aggressive groups…

“The CJNG is gaining ground, but doesn’t have anywhere near the power of the Sinaloa cartel,” said Miguel Ángel Vega, a reporter with the Sinaloa-based news organization Ríodoce…

Local journalists say that much of the violence stems from the lack of a strong boss to control the “plaza” – the local turf or trafficking routes. Others suggested that the conflict was triggered by defections from CJNG to Sinaloa.

“It’s a war over the local market,” said one longtime reporter, asking for anonymity for security reasons. “Cartel de Jalisco sells ice [methamphetamine], while Sinaloa sells cocaine.”

But few local residents expect either side to win a victory by force – they believe that the solution will come from a political deal.

Some believe the violence will continue until one of the cartels gains control with help from the government…

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