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From Draft NOtices, January - March 2016

Historic Violence and Repression in Mexico: Follow the Weapons Trail

— Luis Villanueva

Despite what the U.S. and Mexican governments would have you believe, there is no democracy in Mexico. The proven complicity between the corrupt Mexican government and organized crime, 150,000 violent deaths in the last 8 years, thousands of missing people, hundreds of political prisoners, the displacement of entire rural communities by the military -- all of these horrors, which describe a country at war, are connected by one blaring event: the Merida Initiative.

The Merida Initiative of 2008, an agreement between the U.S. and Mexico, supposedly establishes four basic goals: deter organized crime, maintain rule of law throughout the country, establish control at the border with Guatemala to prevent Central American migration, and create safe and secure communities within Mexico. Perhaps not surprisingly, the plan is being implemented through massive sales of U.S. military vehicles and weapons (to Mexico) and extensive American military training of the Mexican army. As a result, the consequences have been the exact opposite of the intended goals.

Historically, the possession of weapons has been strictly forbidden in Mexican society. In just a few years, Mexico went from 25th to 5th worldwide in importation of arms. The weapons passed from the U.S. military to the Mexican military are often later found in the possession of the drug cartels. After organized government confiscations of illegally possessed arms by citizenry, those arms are also later found in possession of drug cartels.

Few Americans are aware of these recent developments or the Merida Initiative itself. There is much news about drug war violence and perhaps the fact that the U.S. exacerbates the problem because of drug use. There is little mention of the direct correlation between the U.S. military-industrial complex and the outrageous deterioration of Mexican society. Historically, this type of U.S. intervention is nothing new in Latin America. U.S. arms and intelligence have been used to overthrow democratic governments in Central and South America over and over again. It is now happening on our southern border.

Mexicans now recognize and discuss the fact that the country is in a state of civil war. U.S. tanks and helicopters are being used to stop social unrest and, alarmingly, teacher and student protests in the states of Oaxaca, Guerrero, Chiapas, Michoacán and Veracruz. The original budget for the Merida Initiative was nearly $2 billion, and despite the fact that this plan is contributing to gross human rights violations in Mexico, Congress continues to appropriate more money on a regular basis, with the full support of President Obama.

Part of the Merida Initiative includes the training of elite Mexican units by the U.S. military. There have been 500 documented desertions amongst these skilled Mexican troops. The most vicious drug cartel, the Zetas, was formed by a group of these deserters. There are many more documented cases of military deserters being hired by the drug cartels.

If there is any doubt about the reality of the Merida Initiative and the use of U.S. weapons, we need only analyze a few seemingly unrelated facts in the state of Guerrero, where 43 college students/future teachers were kidnapped last year. In this state, the most productive gold mines as well as the largest poppy fields of Mexico are found. Interestingly, five military bases, supplied by U.S. weapons and vehicles, surround the same region. Despite this massive government/military presence, the state’s homicide rate is the highest in the country and continues to increase. Repression, imprisonment of political activists, and murder of reporters and students are everyday occurrences. Is the military unable to control the drug trade, or is it the military protecting the drug trade and silencing those trying to speak out?

Naomi Klein’s Shock Doctrine can easily be applied to the current situation in Mexico. With the help of the Merida Initiative, Mexican society has been reduced to a state of terror so that its population is too shocked to protest the many painful economic and repressive social policies being implemented by a government that has long ceased to be democratic.

This article is from Draft NOtices, the newsletter of the Committee Opposed to Militarism and the Draft (



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