Thursday, February 17, 2011

Explaining Mexico City's Violence

In the wake of a weekend massacre in Nezahualcóyotl, the head of the semi-official Mexico City human rights commission has asked authorities to clarify whether cartels are operating in the capital or not. This comes in response to comments from the head prosecutor in Mexico City:
No, what we have is what we have already said, which is what has to do with narcomenudeo [retail drug selling]. I repeat once more, narcomenudeo is not considered organized crime...
This is a bit of a false distinction, and one that demonstrates the obfuscatory nature of the word "cartel". Whether or not cartels, according to whatever your definition is, are operating in Mexico City isn't really the issue, but rather whether the worst symptoms of organized crime --massacres, corruption, extortion, et cetera-- are present. Such symptoms seem to be on the rise in Mexico City, and saying that they don't constitute organized crime and they aren't cartels seems like a dodge. Whether the groups behind the recent crimes are funding their existence via small-time drug sales or big shipments, and whether they are officially part of La Familia or Los Zetas or whether they just get their drugs from such groups, is of secondary importance. Similarly, the exclusion of narcomenudeo from organized crime seems totally arbitrary.

Also, if he is admitting that there is a problem with narcomenudeo, doesn't there necessarily have to be some drug trafficking? It's not like all of the drugs in Mexico City are produced locally.

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