The Mexican cartels are expanding control over their local territories by providing “humanitarian services” aid to the poor and vulnerable populations. This development has created a shadow government that is more effective and visible to the Mexican people, and which will cause complications for U.S./Mexico relations and border security.
This “goodwill” the cartels gain with the Mexican people is dangerous for the U.S. in efforts to secure the border. The aid provided by the cartels gains not only support and sympathy but also recruits.
Despite the COVID-19 pandemic, the murder rate in Mexico dropped only slightly in April 2020. Nationwide in Mexico, there were 3,020 murders in April, slightly down from March’s 3,158 figure.
Since stores, factories, and other businesses have been closed, and with considerable reductions in traffic and movement of people, the violence and killings were expected to decline. However, much of the violence appears linked to disputes between rival drug gangs.
In one silver-lining for Mexico, there have been very few mass lootings of stores. Only a half dozen such incidents occurred from mid-March to mid-April and none in May. But these figures maybe because the cartels have delivered humanitarian aid (some boxes with drug kingpin “El Chapo” Guzman’s picture on it) to the many poor communities.
The government of Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador has lost considerable respect recently. He pulled back the military police when they tried to arrest the son of “El Chapo” and the gunmen fought back. He has also admitted publicly that his government cannot fight against the cartels and propose a “hugs, not bullets” strategy to fight crime.
Mexico’s government has become a “basket case” under liberal/leftist Lopez Obrador as president with the cartels as a shadow government. Unless the Mexican government becomes more effective in serving and protecting its people, the U.S. may have to deal with the criminals more directly.