Drug cartels operate everywhere, in every corner, place, locale, state and region of the earth. They do however primarily call Latin America home although transnational in scope. This post looks at the potential consequences of a designation of Mexican drug cartels as terrorist organizations on behalf of the United States and how the halting of this label will alleviate a further escalation of homicide levels in Mexico, at least for the interim.
The recent announcement by the Trump Administration to halt the planned labeling of Mexican drug cartels as terrorists after the killing of 9 American citizens from a Mormon community in Mexico is welcoming to say the least. The designation of cartels as terrorist organizations will not solve nor curate any of the ongoing problems nor will it bring justice to those lives already lost in this vicious war.
Yes, the murder rate has nearly tripled since 2006 with 2019 on par to be the deadliest year to date with almost 33,000 lives estimated to be taken due to this war. But we have to look at the underlying fundamentals of why Mexico has turned so violent as of recent. The murder rate has tripled in part due to prior Mexican President Enrique Nieto's declaration of all out war on the cartels in 2006. Mexico went from having a "tacit" agreement with its cartels of keeping violence to minimum levels and mutual cooperation with the state to all out war on them. The consequences have been deadly. It is obvious and evident that the cartels will not go quietly. Because of this, Mexico is losing the war and a US designation of cartels as terrorist organizations which will allow the targeting of cartel financial, commercial, and legal apparatuses will only make the war worse. Let me explain to you why:
Cartels are not like the typical terrorist organization. They don't fight for ideology, religion, the state, or nationality like the Shining Path, Al Qaeda, the IRA, and the KKK do. Instead, their principle concern is profit. And when the state starts to interfere with cartel profit making abilities, the cartel and its respective members will fight to the death to see it through that their organization and its modus operandi survive.Therefore, squeezing the cartels tight on behalf of the US juridical and economic apparatuses will only escalate the war and its fatalities. Why? Because it's another attack against their profit and profit making capacities including their ability to penetrate foreign markets, coerce them, bribe them for market access, and distribute their products on foreign soil.
There remains to be seen yet any suitable, reasonable policy in the political, economic, military and juridical spheres which can effectively neutralize cartels and their omnipotent power. One thing is for sure however, taking the war to the cartels is not the answer. It will only lead to more bloodshed.