Mexican cartels create a hostile climate in a beautiful country

The Channels Opinion Pages | STAFF COLUMN

Alvaro Abrego Trancozo, Staff Writer

There are times when one desires to travel to a different country, but this is not so easy considering the state of the world today. 

Some may want to go to Mexico for example, but drug cartels roam the streets of the Spanish-speaking nation, and it’s constantly exposed in the news for how dangerous it is. 

It’s just hard to be walking around when you see heavily-armed military personnel on patrol, not knowing if you’ll be a witness or a victim of some horrific event. 

I visited the city of Acapulco about a year ago, and what I saw there was nothing compared to what I already saw a couple of years ago in other Mexican cities. There were soldiers standing guard on the streets with pick-up trucks that piled a few soldiers in the back, and hardly any municipal police were in sight. 

I later found out in an article from North County Public Radio that “local police in several parts of Mexico have been disbanded because they were corrupted by drug cartels.”

Police departments have disintegrated in dozens of cities, towns and states that were once considered to be much safer. Nobody wants to visit a city where there are armed soldiers patrolling.

I remember the time my aunt told me when somebody she knew was assaulted in the state of Guanajuato, but luckily this person survived.

Guanajuato could set a record with the more than 40 massacres in the state this year alone. The Pacific coast of Colima and the border states of Baja California and Chihuahua are the only states with more homicides per capita.

These cartels don’t seem to be getting weaker as time goes by either. The Jalisco New Generation Cartel recruits young people who have already been involved in crime. Such as teenage drug dealers and petty thieves who “suddenly found themselves working as transnational criminals,” said the Washington Post.

Cartels are around because they want to be a part of the political system in Mexico. According to HuffPost, in 2012, drug cartels had paid at least $4.5 million in bribes. The drug cartels have the ability to corrupt, penetrate and erode political institutions and they are “competing with the state for legitimacy and social support.”

Cartels mostly recruit teens and young adults because they are less likely to think of the consequences of their actions, which makes them easier to manipulate. Other reasons as to why people end up working for the cartels is that they earn respect, and because of the lack of opportunities and support that the government fails to provide.

The drug-trafficking cartels must stop. Their actions not only hurt the lives of people living in cartel-controlled areas, but also affects the local economy. Tourism, which directly improves the livelihoods of the people there, is the backbone of many cities’ economies.

The U.S State Department recommends that citizens either travel with caution to Mexico or avoid it altogether. Although these groups don’t necessarily target tourists, they have before and civilians can get caught in the crossfire.

Mexico is a war zone right now, but it’s a beautiful place full of life and culture that anyone and everyone should be able to visit without having to fear for their livelihood.