Nowadays Mexico is mostly known as one of the world’s largest consumer economics and moreover, as one of the biggest drug producers and sellers. Rapid growing number of criminal cartels in the country priory benefit from drug trading. Unfortunately, Mexico has a weak judicial system and police institutions. Hereby, the government cannot neither diminish the cartels’ activity, nor control them. Definitely, many actions both inside the country and within the international cooperation were made in order to change the situation. In order to understand the reason of social deviance and inactivity of native civilians in such circumstances a Theory of Relative Deprivation can be used.
Hereby, the paper is organized in the following order: the first part will briefly describe the general situation with criminal cartels in Mexico. The second part is more oriented on the Theory of Relative Deprivation and its relevance in the described situation. The third part of the paper shows the importance of international cooperation in order to resolve the long lasting problem with DTOs in Mexico.
General overview of the social and political situation in Mexico
After the successful dismantling of Colombia's drug cartels in 1980’s Mexico’s drug trafficking organizations (DTOs) rose in their power and became one of the largest networks with a great impact on judiciary, government, police and other integral country’s institutions. (Lee, Brianna “Council on Foreign Relations”) DTOs entrenched so deeply that they are now considered as an inherent part of the Mexico’s business and economy. Among the main reasons, why Mexican cartels became so powerful within this time is the fact that Colombian route was undermined. Thus, Mexican gangs started being wholesalers rather than just couriers. As a result, now Mexico is one of the largest drug suppliers to the US market. Since 2005 exports of heroin, cocaine, methamphetamine and marijuana has rapidly increased. (Lee, Brianna “Council on Foreign Relations”)
Despite the illegitimacy of the DTOs this business remains to be one of the most profitable in the world. Thus, Mexico’s most prominent cartel organizations - the Zetas, Sinaloa Cartel, Juárez Cartel, Tijuana Cartel, Beltran Leyva, and the Knights Templar; earn billion dollars, while the meager earnings of policemen are about $9,000-$10,000 a year. (Lee, Brianna “Council on Foreign Relations”) This empowers old and recently created DTOs to control the government and police by bribes rather than by fear. Being almost uncontrolled criminal cartels flourish and become more and more powerful.
Of course, the government took different measures to reduce the cartels’ power and impact on the society. However, some actions were too radical and as a result caused more negative results rather than benefits. For example, since 2006 Calderón took many actions to diminish fast grooving violence level. Unfortunately, his policy was rather aggressive as he attempted to combat the DTOs mainly by increasing the role of the military in local security efforts. (Lee, Brianna “Council on Foreign Relations”) The main purpose of this strategy was to increase military power and thus, to raise social secure rate. Under this campaign several important arrests of cartel leaders were made, some of the group leaders were even killed. However, besides the positive result of these arrests many negative consequences arose.
Unfortunately, drug trading has harmful influence not only on the social and economic situation of the producer country, but as well or even more it has a bad impact on the drug consumers. Therefore, international cooperation is very important to prevent the development of the DTOs and diminish their current power. USA is the biggest and the most powerful Mexico’s partner in the fight with criminal cartels. During the bilateral cooperation with the USA, there were killed or captured 25 of the top 37 most-wanted drug cartel leaders in Mexico. (Lee, Brianna “Council on Foreign Relations”)
The government’s militarized strategy under Calderón’s campaign was criticized as they did not diminish the cartels’ power but rather divided it into a greater number of smaller DTOs. Hereby, the force of the criminal cartels was increased. High militarization level caused later a splash of social violence and homicides. The new Peña Nieto administration implemented new and different from the previous ones security policies and emphasized more on the close USA – Mexico cooperation. However, only minor changes appeared as a result of these actions. Among the most efficient is the Mérida Initiative program, which an international US – Mexico police and military training and crime prevention program. This program is also focused on youth employment and community development. (Beittel, June S. 8)
The Theory of Relative Deprivation in Mexico society.
Relative deprivation can be considered as a situation, when people feel them entitled comparing with other because of lack of some characteristics. Basically it is the feeling of being separated from the majority because of being different – in race, religion, welfare etc. More than that, it is not only being different but also having less opportunities and rights. Nowadays, such deprivation feeling arise when ones welfare does not math his or her desires.
Feelings of deprivation are very important in understanding social movements. Unfortunately, the Theory of Relative Deprivation cannot fully explain why some people start or join social movements to fight for equal rights while some do not, even though they also feel discontent. Very often within poor and unsecured society deprivation feelings can cause political violence, as there is a gap between people’s expectations and their real opportunities. Once this gap cannot be solved for a long time, people blame the government in the unsatisfactory situation. It is also very important to note, that the level of unemployment and education can influence the general deprivation tendency, and thus, increase terrorist attacks. (Richardson, Clare “Relative Deprivation Theory in Terrorism: A Study of Higher Education and Unemployment as Predictors of Terrorism”) It is clear, that people with higher education level and of higher welfare have more power and respect within society. Therefore, they can easily become social leaders and organize people. In its turn, high level of unemployment results in a high level of unsatisfaction. Moreover, unemployed people are free and can easily agree to participate in different meetings and movements. Thus, social movements can depend on informal leaders. Corresponding to the current situation in Mexico, it can be stated that cartel leaders are those who have higher education level and for sure those, who have the highest income. Therefore, they can easily affect the social thoughts and tendencies.
The above mentioned theory can partially explain, why civil Mexicans do not fight against DTOs, but rather wait for the government’s or foreign support. Meanwhile, military forces and local police face more and more difficulties to combat the increasing violence, generated by DTOs. Mexico’s cartels now use new homicide tactics like mass killings, the use of torture and dismemberment, and the car bombs. All these violence actions made international analytics to conclude that cartels’ terrorism is now on the new level and thus, different political actions are required. Unfortunately, according to the statistics it is stated that there have been at least 60,000 homicides related to organized crime since 2006. (Beittel, June S. 2)
As it is shown on the figure 1, Mexico now has one of the highest violence levels in the world, but one of the lowest among other Americas countries.
Figure 1. National Homicide Rates (per 100,000 inhabitants) for Selected Latin American Countries (Heinle et al. 6)
As it was mentioned before, Calderón's actions caused the splintering of the organizations, creating between sixty and eighty new DTOs. As a result the violence level rose along with this. For example, in February 2014, the government confirmed that 26,000 people remain "disappeared." (Lee, Brianna “Council on Foreign Relations”) However, there are no new social movements against this crime level. According to many politics, this is because of lack of the middle class society. But, according to the Relative deprivation theory, this situation can be explained by the major demotivation and deviant thought of the poor and unsecured majority.
High level of militarization was initially called to defend civilian. Albeit, the cartels’ influence spread on the police and military organizations, and therefore, many of them overuse their power against civil people. As a result lots of crimes and especially homicides cannot be investigated. The average number of killed victims within the past 6 years is more than 70,000, in addition to thousands of disappearances. ( "Peña Nieto's Challenge: Criminal Cartels and Rule of Law in Mexico.") Many of these victims are policemen and soldiers, who were fighting for human rights. People hence feel unprotected and do not want to fight for their rights or prosperity, as they are powerless.
International cooperation to diminish cartels’ power
Taking into account that Mexico now exports more than 90 percent of cocaine to the United States, and it reflects in $1.2 trillion annual GDP of Mexico and employs at least half a million people, it can be one of the major reasons why it is so difficult to combat DTOs in the country. (Lee, Brianna “Council on Foreign Relations”) After years of intense actions taken against criminal cartels, new President Enrique Peña Nieto is now targeted to reduce the homicide rate priory. Therefore, he introduced a new security plan, which will give Mexico a window of opportunity to build institutions that can produce long-term peace and cut impunity rates. ( "Peña Nieto's Challenge: Criminal Cartels and Rule of Law in Mexico.")
As it was mentioned above, Mexico’s DTOs have a great impact on the US economy and social situation. Thus, US is strongly oriented on the improvement of the situation in Mexico as it will also reduce risks, caused by DTOs business. Nowadays U.S.-Mexico security cooperation is mainly represented by the Mérida Initiative. Under the Peña Nieto administration, U.S. Mexico cooperation is being held according to the following “pillars” of the framework: 1) dismantling organized crime groups, 2) strengthening judicial sector institutions, 3) building a 21st century border, and 4) fostering resilient communities. (Heinle et al. 4)
The wide border between Mexico and the United States spans six Mexican states and four US states with more than 20 commercial railroad crossings. (Redmond, H. “The political economy of Mexico's drug war”) That allows thousands of peoples to cross the border daily. Many goods are being exported from the US to Mexico. In order to minimize the DTOs impact on the US economy there was made a suggestion to legalize marijuana in 2013 in two U.S. states—Colorado and Washington. The main purpose was to reduce the price of the drug and thus, to diminish cartels’ power on the market. (Heinle et al. 4) However, there are still some restrictions to make this decision legible in other states.
After long lasting prosperity of DTOs in Mexico and some actions that empowered cartels to gain even more strength it is truly difficult to fight for social rights and reduce the violence level. However, many new actions were made and new laws adopted in order to resolve this situation. Unfortunately, due to many reasons native citizens are not eager to organize social movements, as they are either afraid of cartels’ revenge or demotivated while being powerless.
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