Confronting Mexican cartels demands global attention

Jose Coronado

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It is not a myth: A huge part of Mexico is controlled by drug cartels that are even more powerful than the government.  In some counties of Mexico, cartels fund the political campaigns of congressmen and governors and effectively decide who wins the local elections.

For years, the international press has reported about the power of drug cartels, but has not followed any case specifically. I think that since the police in Mexico are incapable of resisting the cartels, we need international pressure to convince the Mexican government to accept more help from police from other countries in combating drug dealers.

The city of Iguala, in the state of Guerrero on the Pacific Coast, is one of the counties in which the drug cartels are in control of everything. A lot of people in the town know that, but few dare to confront or denounce the local government.

One group from Iguala, the Normalistas, made up of college students that wanted to be teachers, decided to participate in a major protest on Oct. 2. On Sept. 26, 2014, the group of students took three buses to Mexico City to join students from all over the country in the Oct. 2 march, commemorating the massacre of students in 1968 who protested the Olympic Games.

On the way out of town, a group of policemen and drug dealers intercepted the buses and started to shoot. Three dead bodies were found at the scene, and the rest of the 43 students were kidnapped. Nobody knows where they are. The disappearance of these students and the incapability of the Mexican police to find them convinces me that calling cops or investigators from other countries is necessary to find the missing students.

The case first attracted attention from Mexican national media, but suddenly press from other countries began to write about the massacre. This past week, I read articles in the New York Times and the Wall Street Journal about it.

The pressure that media has put on the national government to solve this case has made President Enrique Peña Nieto send the military to Iguala. The whole police department of Iguala has been put under arrest and is being investigated in Mexico City. The mayor of Iguala is a fugitive, and many protests across the country are asking the governor of Guerrero to resign.

I feel sad and outraged about the massacre of the students. I still think there might be hope that, since this case captured the attention of the international media, this will make the world more aware of the situation of Mexico. Organizations in the United Nations should put more pressure on the Mexican government so activists will be better-protected.

Currently, the possibility of UN Blue Helmets in Mexico has run into problems. The UN Blue Helmets interfere in major international crises when the UN Security Council believes it is necessary, but since the Mexican government has not asked any country to help fight the drug cartels, the project is halted.

Aid from a neutral force like the UN would make the area safer, since the police and sometimes even the military are controlled by the drug cartels. The Mexican government also needs to work more closely with the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration and FBI, and let them operate in Mexican territory. Police corps can investigate Mexican drug dealers, but they cannot perform arrests or capture drug lords because of Mexican law.

Meanwhile, the attacks against students continue. The morning after the 43 students disappeared, a group of teachers and students from the college gave a talk about what happened to the population of Iguala. A group of drug dealers began to shoot at them, so one of the students ran away. The next day his body was found on one side of the road with his face stripped away.

I hope that the disappearance of the students sparks a movement of not only violence, but of political change. Mexican society must also begin to participate actively and remove all politicians that are related with drug dealers and put them in prison. This can only happen if Mexicans unite and find a leader or group of leaders who, like most Mexicans, are tired of this corrupt government.

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