We’ve heard analysts and pundits say for a while now that Mexico is in chaos, but we saw it first hand last week when forces aligned with a drug cartel defeated the military in a battle in the city of Culiacán.
Gunmen aligned with jailed drug lord Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzmán took to the streets of the city, located near Mexico’s western coast, to search for Guzmán’s sons Ivan and Ovidio. Cartel forces found Ivan quickly, but they followed up with a five hour siege of the town to find Ovidio.
The scene was horrendous, with vehicles and buildings set ablaze and children dodging bullets. In the end, reports have suggested that as many as 14 were killed. Once El Chapo’s men found Ovidio, the military stood down to avoid further loss of life.
So what exactly happened? The BBC summarized the situation like this:
Mexico’s security minister, Alfonso Durazo, told Reuters news agency that a patrol of National Guard militarised police came under intense fire from outside the house where they had located Mr Guzmán, forcing them to retreat from the building for their own safety and “to recover calm in the city”.
A lawyer for the Guzmán family told the Associated Press, “Ovidio is alive and free.”
The Mexican people elected President Andrés Manuel López Obrador on a platform of safety and reigning in the drug cartels. He has put together measures to help combat the rampant crime, but during his campaign, he proposed an amnesty program for the cartels as well.
Others have also complained that Obrador hasn’t pushed back hard enough against the drug syndicates; nevertheless, his election may have come too little too late. The chaos and violence in Mexico have gone on for years, and the cartels have become so powerful that they’re difficult to combat.
For example, El Chapo’s cartel in Culiacán has been operating since the 1940s, and they were able to take on police and military despite infighting over control of the cartel in light of El Chapo’s incarceration.
What does this mean for the future of Mexico? President Obrador clearly doesn’t have a handle on the rampant crime in his country, and the violence isn’t likely to stop anytime soon. Since Mexico is our southern neighbor, we should be concerned about its stability, and as Americans we can’t help but wonder what would happen if the violence spreads too far north of the border.
Pray for Mexico and its people. May they achieve peace in the face of overwhelming odds.