Oct 11, 2021
Nearly 100,000 people have disappeared in Mexico, about 88,000 of them just since 2006, according to a recent report by Mexico’s National Search Commission. Most are presumed to have been killed and dumped in mass graves. This on top of more than 150,000 people murdered since 2006, with the numbers rising toward record levels again in recent years.
The cartels that have directly carried out most of the killings emerged in the 1980s to sell drugs to people in the U.S. When they came into being, they often worked with U.S. forces—the CIA in particular—against “leftist” rebels in Central America and Colombia. Their more recent wars with each other have mostly been over access to the U.S., where they sell their main products.
These cartels are also armed to the hilt by U.S. gun manufacturers. Firearms are almost illegal in Mexico—the Mexican government issues fewer than 50 gun permits each year. And yet, Mexico is full of military-style weapons. According to a lawsuit filed by the Mexican government in August, U.S. gunmakers sell more than 340,000 guns each year that flow into the hands of criminals in Mexico.
The Mexican military and police have also been involved in many killings themselves. This past spring, 30 Mexican marines were arrested for orchestrating a wave of disappearances and killings. Text messages proved that Mexican police and cartels cooperated to murder 43 students in Iguala, Mexico in 2014—and these are just a few of the most recent, proven incidents. In fact, the military and the cartels are often the same people—one of the most notorious cartels, Los Zetas, was even formed by people who came out of the Mexican special forces.
These forces are armed and trained by the U.S., of course—Los Zetas members even received special forces training. Then, starting in 2008, the U.S. launched the Merida Initiative, funneling 3 billion dollars to aid Mexican “security” forces. And despite these forces’ links with the cartels and role in the violence, the Biden administration just approved a 5-million-dollar gun sale to the same navy and marines accused in the latest wave of killings.
The violence in Mexico is not just about drugs—the country is also suffering from a wave of kidnappings aimed at extorting money from relatives who are working in the U.S. The prime targets of these kidnappings are Central American migrants, passing through Mexico on their way to try to get to their relatives in the U.S. The U.S. expels thousands of these migrants into Mexico every month, under a policy started under Trump and continued under Biden. Whole families are dumped on the Mexican side of bridges, with crying small children, shoes with no laces, their few possessions stuffed in plastic bags with the U.S. government logo. They are essentially being handed over by the U.S. government as targets for criminal gangs: according to the group Human Rights First, at least 6,356 of these migrants have been kidnapped, abused, or attacked so far this year.
This violence is not some “foreign” problem that can be contained with a wall. It is the direct result of U.S. domination of Mexico.