The Mexican Revolution in 1910 was immediately triggered by the long standing general, president and dictator Porfirio Diaz’ arrest of opponents and his swindle in a presidential election. The losing candidate, Francisco Madero, urged his fellow countrymen to take up arms. The dictator fled to Spain and Madero was elected president in 1911. In a decade of chaos, many factions fought for different agendas.
Today, landowner and General Pancho Villa is memorized as head of an army to the north, and Emiliano Zapata as leader of a peasant revolution in the south, where peasants already the previous year had occupied large estates and distributed the land in response to the large landowners had acquired more and more land from small peasants and from the lands that the villages had in common.
A circle of reactionary Mexicans allied with US-American Ambassador Henry Lane Wilson. In 1913 they let Mexicos President Madero assassinate, and the following year the Mexican port city of Vera Cruz was bombed and occupied by the United States. General Victoriano Huerta established his dictatorship – until he was also arrested and murdered. The revolution continued with antiimperialist traits, costing 2-4 million people before it was declared completed in 1919.
From 1917, a new constitution set the framework for a new Mexico and a new policy was laid out. A cultural revolution was supposed to help changing the society, and it caused the flirtation of urban intellectuals with Indians in the countryside. Minister of Education José Vasconcelos became the driving force of the movement, mobilizing artists and writers; the Ministry of Education got the second largest share of the state budget – the military got the largest. A Ministry of Indian Affairs was also established. The Mexican revolution should not only change power relations but the structure of society itself.
In 1929 a revolutionary party was formed; under changing names, Partido Revolucionario Institucional (PRI) retained power continuously for 71 years.
The party contained different factions representing different classes and layers, and according to Paz, the contradictions of society not only collided in parliament but before in the PRI. Democratic processes were slidingly replaced by increasingly obscure factional struggles within the state bearing party, the power was gathered in obscure circles instead of popular democratic bodies were developed. As the PRIs policy became increasingly conservative, the grip on power at all levels triggered more and more frequent violations of human rights.
Since the 1990s, drug production, -export and -crime has left its mark on Mexican society. Demand in the United States and Europe for narcotics is increasing, and US weapons are being sold in Mexico, where they are used by criminals and the state, which are far from two clearly distinct parties.
In 2000, PRI loses its long presidential monopoly. Vicente Fox Quesada of the conservative PAN is elected president, and PAN regains the post in 2006. The successor, Felipe Calderón, declares war on the drug cartels and inserts the first 6,500 soldiers in the fight so far led by police. Since then, the state is escalating its military efforts.
There are seven major drug cartels in Mexico, and the war has many faces. The mass medias make them notorious and famous, and the war on drugs also influences the perception of Mexico abroad.
Miguel Ángel Félix Gallardo, better known as El Padrino, the Godfather, worked in Mexicos federal police and cooperated with CIA (Iran-contra scandal) before becoming leader of the Guadalajara Cartel and organizing drug cartel cooperation. Gallardo, who was a friend of the governor of the state of Sinaloa while leading the cartel, is convicted in 1990 for the murder of a US policeofficer who had infiltrated the cartel, which, with Mexican police and military knowledge, cultivated enormous quantities of marijuana. Gallardo is serving a 40-year prison sentence.
The Zeta cartel, which consists of former Mexican elite soldiers, is considered the most brutal of the Mexican cartels; their theatrical way of exhibiting their victims captures media attention and heightens public anxiety.
The Sinaloa cartel works more covertly. It is assumed to be behind the plane that at sunset on an April day in 2006 emergencylanded in Ciudad del Carmen in the Mexican state of Campeche with 5 tons of cocaine. The aircraft had an official appearing logo and the pilot disappeared from the airport. The following year, another plane carrying 4 tons of cocaine from Columbia crashed into a forest area on Yucatan. Mexican military had followed the aircraft from it flew into Mexican airspace; yet, soldiers did not arrest until the day after the wounded pilot who confessed that the aircraft belonged to the Sinaloa cartel. In the years 2003-2005, the CIA had used this particular aircraft three times to transport prisoners to the US military prison in Guantánamo.
The violence has also spread to the upper political layers. Carlos Salinas de Gortari, who was Mexicos president from 1988-94, was allegedly involved in drug trafficking and in 1993 in the assassination at Guadalajaras Airport of Archbishop Juan Jesús Posadas Ocampo and six others – murders allegedly caused by a confusion in the drug encounter. According to a testimony, the Archbishop should have told that he had been threatened shortly before by President Salinas. The president was not prosecuted.
In 1994, PRI presidential candidate Luis Donaldo Colosio was assassinated in the middle of a crowd; a man was arrested, confessed to having acted on his own and convicted of the murder.
That same year, PRI Secretary General (and President Salinas former brother-in-law) José Francisco Ruiz Massieu was assassinated. Salinas elder brother Raúl was sentenced to 50 years in prison for having ordered the murder; the sentence was shortened to 27½ years and in 2005 it was set aside. In 1995, Raúls wife and brother-in-law were arrested in Switzerland as they were raising an enormous amount that Raúl had left on a secret account. It turned out that during his brothers presidential term, he had transferred incredible amounts far in excess of his income. In 2004, Salinas youngest brother Enrique was found murdered in a car with a plastic bag over his head.
Apparently there are links between politicians and drug barons, but whether the cartels govern the state or whether the state controls the cartels is difficult to determine. It is a matter of a confusion of interests. Obviously, the criminalization of drugs has increased the price of drugs and that the war on drugs has increased the profits of cartels and weapons manufacturers.
Joaquín ‘Chapo’ Guzmán Loera, leader of the Sinaloa cartel, considered the richest cartel, was captured in 1993 and sentenced to 20 years in prison for murder and drug smuggling. He bribes himself out of the top-secret prison in 2001 and has bribed the state police to wait 24 hours to search him. Only in 2014 he is arrested; in those years, he is known as No. 50 among the worlds most powerful and as Mexicos 10th richest. US prosecutors claim his cartel sent 500 tonnes of cocaine into the United States.
In 2012, PRI recaptures presidential post in Mexico: Enrique Peña Nieto gets elected and announces the arrest of ‘Chapo’ as a TRIUMPH! The following year, ‘Chapo’ flees through a mile long tunnel from his bathroom in the maximum secured prison. The Chief of Prison Service and the Prison Director are dismissed.
Outside the prison, hundreds of people are demonstrating in favor of ‘Chapo’. The tribute is apparently due to the humiliation of the political power and because criminal networks secure employment and identity unlike the state, that many Mexicans despise. In 2016, he is caught after half a year on the run; then he’s about to be filmed for a drama documentary.
The day before Donald J. Trump is inaugurated as President of the United States, ‘Chapo’ on request is handed over to the United States – like 900 other Mexican drug offenders sent to prison in the previous five years. Apparently, the handing over of ‘Chapo’ – power voids and power struggles – is triggering further violence and death in the Mexican state of Sinaloa.
He is charged for homicide and more, is found guilty of all counts and sentenced to life in prison plus 30 years.
Since 2011, some citizens who fear and hate the cartels and who do not trust the police or military have organized local militias, autodefensas or policia comunitaria, ie. local police. These citizens claim that cartels and police/military units have infiltrated each other, so they have felt compelled to set up their armed civil defense.
In the state of Michoacán much narcotics are produced and with the long Pacific coast there are good opportunities for shipping, so armed conflicts have been particularly extensive. In many places, civic guards have taken over the armed controls, put the city council out of power and replaced them with their own councils. Thereby new problems arises, because these self-proclaimed militias are without democratic control, they have the power of weapons to uncontrollably enforce their will and also they can become part of a corrupt power game.
(pp. 464-469 in volume 2, reproduced without notes and illustrations):
THE WORLD ACCORDING TO AZTECS AND INCAS: MYTHS AND STORIES FROM MEXICO AND PERU. Edited, translated, retold and commented by Mikael Witte. Volume 1 + Volume 2
476 pages + 540 pages. Richly illustrated in colors
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