“Gunmen raided a family party in this violent border city and killed six people in a spray of bullets,” tvnz.co.nz reports. “Armed men entered through the back of a house in a residential neighborhood near the center of Ciudad Juarez, surprising the party-goers with an assault-rifle attack.” Aside from the subtle dig at “assault rifles” and a suspicious blank re: motive, the story reveals a hidden dynamic behind the ongoing horror surrounding Mexico’s drug trade. “Violence in the city has been increasing despite more than 7,500 police and soldiers sent by the government of President Felipe Calderon, who launched a campaign against drug cartels after taking office in late 2006.” Despite, or because of?
Imagine the President of the United States sending in the U.S. Army to restore order in, say, Chicago. Now imagine that a completely corrupt Mayor of Chicago (it’s a stretch but stay with me) controlled the local police. The Army has its own commanders, rules and culture. The local police have theirs. And they have criminal allies who are ready, willing and able to kidnap, torture or murder anyone who interferes with their business.
In this theoretical Chicago, gun control laws keep the people unarmed, who are brutalized by BOTH sides. What happens next, when law and order is destroyed in the crossfire between rival “gangs”? Here’s a little remarked story from The Christian Science Monitor back in September:
A mob in the Mexican border state of Chihuahua killed two suspected kidnappers in the country’s latest bout of vigilante justice.
Townspeople in Ascencion, about 100 miles from troubled Ciudad Juarez, blocked federal police Tuesday from rescuing two men accused of kidnapping who were being beaten by the crowd. The mob shouted and held up signs calling for an end to the kidnappings that have plagued the area.
This is not the first instance of mob justice in Mexico, a country where drug-related crime continues to escalate and frustrations are mounting over the police’s inability to thwart the violence.
On Monday, police in the state of Mexico rescued an alleged house burglar who was captured and beaten by a crowd. In February, hundreds of Oaxaca taxi drivers beat and set fire to an alleged car thief. And, in 2004, three undercover federal agents mistaken for kidnappers were burned alive in a rural community within Mexico City.
People crave safety and security. Truth be told, they have no inherent loyalty to any system of government. They will support whichever “side” provides greater protection and stability on the micro-level. Drug lords? Federal protection? Show me the justice.
It’s something the Mexican federales should consider as they engage in what amounts to a turf war with Mexican drug lords, shoving aside local law enforcement and, it must be said, continuing to trample on Mexicans constitutional right to defend themselves. The people may not see Calderon’s homies as the “saviors” they purport to be. If, indeed, they are.