Mexico Is Failing Fast

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The ambush and murder of nine Americans in Mexico this week has highlighted the continuing trials and tribulations America’s neighbor to the south has been enduring. Put simply, Mexico is on the road to ruin right now. The drug cartels wield the same power and influence of a national government in many regions of the country. The rule of law has broken down almost entirely across large swaths of territory and the government has been unable, or unwilling to do anything to counter it. In effect, the drug cartels and organized crime syndicates are Balkanizing Mexico, stripping the nation of its sovereignty, and its citizens of their safety.

It’s not fair to say the Mexican government has not moved to take down the cartels in the past. It has. Unfortunately, just about every effort has failed miserably. Felipe Calderon, Mexico’s president from 2006-2012, targeted the leadership of the cartels and for every high-ranking criminal that was incarcerated or killed, another rapidly moved in to fill the void. Calderon’s successor Enrique Peña Nieto developed a more passive strategy. He believed political reform, and strong economic conditions would be enough to reduce criminality, and the influence of cartels in everyday life. This approach failed too.

Mexico’s current president Andrés Manuel López Obrador has fared no better. Federal and municipal authorities submit to the wishes of the cartels. The overwhelming majority of crimes committed go unpunished. The national will has been fractured and so far Obrador has found no way to repair it.

Meanwhile, in Washington DC, President Trump is starting to pay closer attention to what’s happening to the south. The deaths of nine Americans has alarmed the Trump administration and the president has offered Mexico any and all forms of support needed to bring the cartels down once and for all. The Mexican government’s response was essentially ‘Thanks but no thanks.’ Obrador is unwilling, and in many ways unable to do anything effective to curb the drug cartels.

One has to wonder how long it will be until the United States decides to do the job for him. The cartels are infiltrating Texas at an alarming rate, and now there are American citizens being massacred on Mexican soil. If Obrador cannot get his country under control, or is powerless to, the Trump administration could decide the stability of Mexico is essential to the national interests and security of the United States. At that point the gloves will come off and what happens then is anyone’s guess. But it probably won’t end well for the cartels. Or the Mexican government for that matter.

Tuesday 4 October, 2017 Update: The Catalan Crisis

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Catalonia’s ill-advised, and illegal independence referendum has placed Spain on the verge of a constitutional crisis. If  Catalan leader Carles Puigdemont follows through on his promise to declare independence in a matter of days the stage will be set for a major confrontation between the government and Catalonia. The Spanish government would almost certainly block the move by any and all means including the use of force. Spain is well within its rights should it feel compelled to use military force. Catalonia’s government leaders, police officials, and referendum organizers incited rebellion against the state with their actions thus far.

Madrid cannot and will not allow an independence declaration to stand. If Catalonia is permitted to detach itself from the rest of the country and form a new nation-state, the Kingdom of Spain would dissolve within a year, carved up and Balkanized. The Basque region will follow Catalonia’s lead and declare independence next. Although a permanent ceasefire exists between the Spanish government and Basque Separatists, Catalan moves are being watched closely in the western  Pyrénées. A whiff of independence is already in the air and if Madrid wavers even slightly in its standoff with Catalonia, Basque Country’s declaration will come quickly.

The rest of Europe is watching this crisis carefully, cognizant that the wrong move by either the Spanish government, or the Catalans may trigger a chain reaction of similar events across the continent. Spain is not the only EU nation with a separatist movement within its borders, and a few European nations have experience in fending off separation such as Belgium.  Some European leaders are calling for a dialogue between Madrid and the Catalans, however, the statements generally end there. At this point no one wants to appear to be interfering in another nation’s domestic affairs. And for the moment the Catalan situation falls squarely into that category.