Sunday, November 14, 2010

Reactions to the Offer from La Familia

They were not favorable. Leo Zuckermann:
With you, there can be no dialogue, negotiation, and especially no pacting.

Because you are delinquents that threaten, intimidate, bribe, and kill. You aren't English gentlemen who keep your word. You use AK-47s to "convince". You, in summary, are one of the most violent cartels in the country.

Don't try to fool us: you aren't saving Michoacán. Far from it, you have condemned to be one of the entities with the worst figures for executions, not to mention extortion of kidnapping. You should admit what you are: c-r-i-m-i-n-a-l-s. Don't be hypocrites. Don't disguise yourselves as lambs when you are some of the most ferocious wolves that exist.
For the record, that's the second time that Zuckermann has fallen back on the English gentleman comparison as a way to discourage pacts. And here's Jorge Fernández Menéndez:

La Familia asks for opinions about the organization and their offer. And we must respond: La Familia wasn't created to defend the people, nor anything like it. It is a criminal group that specialized in marijuana traffic and that with time branched out into methamphetamines. Today it is one of the foremost cartels in the country. For a while they were operators with the Beltrán Leyvas, with whom they split and initiated a ferocious battle for control of the state, above all when the latter separated from Chapo Guzmán's cartel, who allied with La Familia. Their war has been against the Beltráns and the Zetas. Their activity has been as violent or more so than any other gang and they have expanded to all of the central region of the country and even, as we have seen, to the US. Where is the humanitarian and the defense of the state and its people?

If that cartel or any other decides to dissolve and abandon its criminal activities, great news. But nobody should be fooled: if that happens it will be because of the pressure of the authorities, using a strategy that many have disqualified from the get-go. For now, everything seems to more a public relations than a serious decision to drop their weapons and take responsibility. But that's not a result of strength, but rather of weakness.

This seems to be the standard reaction, and the point that the Familia is hypocritical and shouldn't be negotiated with hard to dispute. But I guess my point is that there is a lot of space between negotiating and ignoring them entirely, and the government doesn't lose much of anything by subtly encouraging them to leave the business.

Also, Fernández Menéndez's final point about the offer being a sign of weakness rather than a sign of strength is not a debate to which we should be devoting too much energy. For one, we don't know. You can't measure the strength of a gang with quarterly profit numbers, nor can we, in most cases, pinpoint what their actual strength is or what the leaders' perceptions of it are. Secondly, at a certain point, it almost doesn't matter whether gangs are motivated by strength or weakness. The actions themselves are what need to be considered. If a gang is killing scores of people, forcing businesses to close, and generally wreaking impossible amounts of havoc, it's small consolation to say that they are doing so because they are getting weaker. In this case, La Familia may be weaker than they were two years ago, but does Fernández Menéndez doubt that they can remain the same destructive force for the foreseeable future that they have been for the past four years?

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