I always wonder why the American officials --in this case Michael Braun, the ex-DEA official who supplied much of the material for the article-- persist in promoting possible links between Mexican gangs and Islamic terrorists. Here, the Africa connection is weak; Al Qaeda operates primarily in East Africa, while the countries in which Mexican criminals operate are on the continent's west coast. Furthermore, at a very fundamental level, the interests of the two groups are in direct conflict: Mexican smugglers rely on the persistent appetite for vice in the US; Al Qaeda abhors such vice, as well as the US's indulgence of it (among other bones), and therefore wants to destroy the nation that makes their would-be Mexican partners wealthy. That's not to say that such a relationship is impossible, but it serves no purpose to make our enemies seem ten feet tall through speculation that hasn't any evidence to support it.
Monday, September 14, 2009
Mexicans in Africa
El Universal ran a story today with the ironic title, "'Narcosafari' of Mexican cartels", with the increasing presence of Mexican drug gangs in Africa serving as the subject. This is a topic that has fed news stories in Mexico for many months now, and it's certainly worth paying attention to, given the weak institutions in most West African countries, and Mexican gangs' skill at subverting democratic institutions. It's also noteworthy how Mexican drug influence is proliferating around the world, just as the old model of the hierarchical, all-powerful, pseudo-military cartel is to a certain degree giving way to a constellation of regional gangs (La Familia, Teo García's gang in Tijuana, et cetera) in Mexico.