Most Americans know very little about our 130 million neighbors to the South and what we do know comes from our interactions with Mexican and Central American illegal immigrants in our country. Open sources can provide more insight into the country that Martin Van Creveld declared to be the greatest threat to national security.
Mexico appears to be a bi-modal society. One part of society works. The other part doesn’t. Rather, it works hard at drugs (the Cartels) and graft (the government). The violent, corrupt and criminal elements – the Cartels and government – have operated in a symbiosis of favors, checks and balances for at least 100 years. When one Cartel leader gets too violent, he’s hauled off to prison and replaced with someone in prison. Things return to normal and the government ensures that drugs flow smoothly to Los Estados Unidos for a share of the profits. Cartels want to maximize their profits by minimizing each-other and the share they pay to the government. The government, in its arrogance, controls the cartels far less than it realizes. Occasionally, the Mexican government puts its foot down by allowing the United States to extradite people it can’t control in exchange for gifts from us. The relationship with our government and theirs is, at best, adversarial. Our government appears to be just another revenue stream for corrupt Mexican officials and an occasional safety valve.
Between the Rock of the Mexican government and the Hard Place of the Cartels is your Average Jose. What is life like for him? Does he try to work in the legitimate economy or the illegitimate one? How does he provide security for his family? How does he get by? How does the US affect Mexico and vice-versa? Vice provides valuable insights in this documentary from 2012 when Mitt Romney ran for president. The documentary is about Romney’s relatives in Mexico and the violence they’ve suffered by the cartels.
There are many lessons from the documentary:
- It is very difficult to live in states where the government can’t keep order (it’s basic duty), but refuses to grant its citizens the right to keep and bear arms. Tyranny is neither free nor safe. In this case, the Mormons had to choose between their desire to obey the law and their desire to live. Even when they broke the law by getting illegal firearms, they quickly worked with their government to obtain the only legal means of owning firearms: starting a hunting club. They were only granted a license when the local mayor was arrested for being on the cartel payroll.
- No amount of firepower was successful by itself. Cartels show up with platoon-sized units or larger. The Mormons used radio techniques, observation posts, and checkpoints to control the influx of criminal elements into their area. Obviously, this involves finding reliable people to stand watches and paying them.
- They invited the Federales to use their town as a safe base of operations. I’ve read many places that the Federales are often on the payroll of cartels. This is the difficulty living in corrupt states: when you call the police, there’s a 30-80% chance the police are criminals. More on this later. Based on the interactions with the Federales and how he rode with them, it seems that the Federales are on the payroll of the Mormons.
- They sent a relative to Congress to maintain political representation. Sure, they got a license to have firearms, but what if some authority showed up out-of-the-blue and told them their license was revoked? As FerFAL explains, having a friend or relative who is a judge, prosecutor, or politician is a great thing.
- The Mormons worked for the relief of their Mexican neighbors through charity and were pillars of their community.
- It is possible to make legitimate money in Mexico. These Mormons proved it. The cultural differences between them and the surrounding countryside were obvious when Vice drove into town. Many other people make legitimate money in Mexico.
- Making legitimate money makes you a target for criminals who like to diversify their portfolio with kidnappings and extortion. Kidnapping is big business for the cartels. As Sanford Strong explains, kidnappers always take you somewhere that’s better for them and worse for you. Law enforcement calls this a secondary crime scene. Try to die on the scene of your kidnapping rather than in a cartel safe house after days or weeks of torture.
Post other observations in the comments. The reason this is of interest to us is that 4th generation warfare is coming to the US through immigration. Locally, there have been cartel assassinations and the need for federal support of local police to tackle the international gang problem. The state government is interested in virtue signalling and fighting the president rather than in maintaining order. Tucker Carlson explains MS-13 threats against city police in Mendota in the outro.