By Owei Lakemfa
Mexico has drug cartels which can also be violent. One of the most infamous drug lords, Joaquin Archivaldo ‘El-Chapo’ Guzman, former leader of the Sinaloa Cartel is serving a life sentence in the United States, US. The drug cartels are a problem to Mexico which has other related challenges. First is the seeming insatiable appetite of Americans for drugs which provides a ready market.
The second is the ceaseless flow of arms from the US to Mexico; some half a million annually, which arms the cartels, and make them difficult to bring down. However, the solution of some American leaders is not to tackle these challenges, but to militarily invade neigbouring Mexico allegedly to take out the drug cartels and cut down insecurity.
On March 15, 2023, Congresswoman Marjorie Taylor Greene from Georgia tweeted: “Our US military needs to take action against the Mexican cartels.” She was reacting to a claimed explosive device wrapped in duct tape thrown from Mexico, which turned out to be sand. That she was wrong on the alleged explosive did not deter her from the campaign to invade a sovereign country. Two months earlier, 39-year-old Representative Daniel Reed Crenshaw of Texas Second Congressional District and a former Navy SEAL, had introduced a bill to “authorise the use of United States Armed Forces against those responsible for trafficking fentanyl or a fentanyl-related substance into the United States or carrying out other related activities that cause regional destabilisation in the Western Hemisphere.”
As if on cue, former American Attorney General, William P. Barr in a piece titled: “The U.S. must defeat Mexico’s drug cartels” in the March 2, 2023 issue of the Wall Street Journal thundered: “America can no longer tolerate narco-terrorist cartels. Operating from havens in Mexico, their production of deadly drugs on an industrial scale is flooding our country with this poison. The time is long past to deal with this outrage decisively. Reps. Dan Crenshaw (R., Texas) and Michael Waltz (R., Fla.) have proposed a joint resolution giving the president authority to use the U.S. military against these cartels in Mexico. This is a necessary step and puts the focus where it must be.”
The next day, Senators Lindsey Graham, South Carolina, and John Kennedy, Louisiana, demanded the US invades Mexico. Graham said: “Drug cartels in Mexico have been terrorising Americans for decades. We are going to unleash the fury and might of the U.S. against these cartels. We are going to destroy their business model and their lifestyle because our national security and the security of the United States as a whole depends on us taking this decisive action (we will) give the military the authority to go after these organisations wherever they exist. Not to invade Mexico. Not to shoot Mexican airplanes down. But to destroy drug labs that are poisoning Americans.”
Interesting. American politicians want to teach the world how to militarily attack alleged drug laboratories spread across neigbourhoods in a sovereign country without invading the country. It is the classic case of wanting to make omelette without cracking an egg. So what would the Mexicans be doing, watching civilians killed in their homes and in crossfire without coming to the defence of their innocent citizens? Conversely, will the US allow or watch the Mexican military attack alleged drug cartels in America?
The irony is that the most insecure country in the region, and one of the most insecure in the world is the US. Apart from other violent crimes, in the last 14 weeks, it has witnessed more than 160 mass shootings with each of those taking at least four lives. Just this Saturday, April 15, Alexis Dowdell was holding her Sweet Sixteen Birthday in Alabama. There were rumours that somebody at the party had a gun. The rumours filtered into her home, and her 18-year-old brother Phil, came to get her. LaTonya Allen, her mother also arrived, turned on the lights, went to the DJ booth and announced that whoever had a firearm should leave the party. Since nobody spoke, she turned off the lights to allow the party go on.
Then, gunfire erupted. Alexis whose brother pushed her down when the guns began to boom said: “All of a sudden you hear gunshots and you just see everybody running towards the door and people falling and screaming.” After the shooting died down, four persons, including her brother, lay dead with 32 injured. Another set of sacrificial lambs for the American gun culture in which for profit, lives and limbs are ceaselessly sacrificed to the gods of the gun industry. To clarify, the overwhelming majority of Americans are against the free flow of arms. In fact, 67 per cent of Americans support a ban on military and assault-style weapons. But they face an overfed war industry that makes huge profits from virtually unrestrained arms trade. So, the populace is forced to go into periodic mourning of children and teenagers, young and old, men and women cut down in the insanity called gun violence.
The US gun culture is a suicidal one from the country that needs to be saved from itself; America has a population of 331.9 million but with 393 million guns in private hands or 120.5 firearms for every 100 American residents. This is about 46 per cent of the total firearms in civilian hands worldwide. The US military itself, holds 4.5 million firearms. In contrast, China with a 1.412 billion population or four and half times the American population, has 49.7 million guns in private hands. While there are all sorts of gun markets in US, Mexico has only one gun store from which people can buy firearms legally.
The American campaign to take out drug laboratories in Mexico is a mere camouflage to invade a neighbour it cannot control and whose President Andre Manuel Lopez Obrador is quite popular. It is also an attempt by American companies to seize Mexico’s resources and turn that country into their own market. The Americans have not forgotten that large swaths of their country like Texas and California were taken by force from Mexico. Some of their politicians might be seeking new ways to place their hands on more Mexican territories.
The fact is that a new world economic and political order is evolving and the American empire might soon lose its dollar, economic, financial and military dominance. Nobody should expect it to go down peacefully and quietly; its establishment would put up a struggle, including overthrowing non-compliant governments and invading other countries. The current campaign to invade Mexico on the excuse that it has violent drug gangs may just be the first step in its attempts to stem the tide of history.
Owei Lakemfa, a former secretary general of Organisation of African Trade Union Unity (OATUU), is a human rights activist, journalist, and author.