Target: Peña Nieto, President of Mexico
Goal: Dismantle the drug cartels that are ravaging the Mexican population.
In Mexico, citizens have been forced to personally form militias to protect themselves from violence and extortion rackets of a drug cartel because the federal government hasn’t stepped in to confront the gangs on its own. The scale of devastation wrought by the gangs on the Mexican population is catastrophic to the extent that it can be compared to the occupation of a brutal foreign army. The cartel has been looting peaceful citizens at gunpoint and kidnapping and raping their wives and daughters, actions we usually associate with war. And yet in the Mexican province of Michoacán, these extraordinary events have become an everyday reality. Merchants are forced to surrender their cash at gunpoint, and the armed gang members of the Knights Templar, the third biggest drug cartel in Mexico, manage to extract cash from just about anyone. Street vendors selling tacos, lime growers, butchers, and restaurant owners are all targeted in their broad extortion scheme. Those who refuse to pay must face the threat of being gunned down, or having their wives or daughters taken hostage.
One of the reasons that these gangs have been able to hijack this Mexican province and usher in a reign of terror is the federal government’s reluctance to engage in military operations that would dismantle the cartels.The 3,000 soldiers sent to Michoacán are simply manning the checkpoints along the busiest roads but not doing much of anything else. Deputy Interior Minister Eduard Sanchez admits that soldiers have not been charged with the mission of rooting out the gang; they would only be allowed to act in the possession of legal authorization based on a specific accusation or the instructions of a judge. In general, the country’s president, Peña Nieto, has decided to abandon a large-scale effort to combat the cartels, judging that the resulting casualties of his predecessor’s attempted crackdown, a staggering number of 60,000, were too costly. He deemed investments into education and the economy to be a much better use of government resources, as increasing opportunity may reduce young people’s interest in joining gangs over the long term. However, this decision robs his citizens of the peace of mind in the short term. Overwhelmed by a combination of violence and extortion, their everyday life has descended into a warlike situation which has forced them to band together into militias to assure the security needs that their government has failed to meet.
Mexican citizens shouldn’t have to be forced to become militants to assure their security. The residents of Michoacán have been caught up in a cycle of violence that has befallen them unexpectedly despite their desire to simply lead a normal life. This lamentable twist of fate must be reversed; the authorities must act to restore the peace. Sign this petition to encourage the Mexican government to commit the resources of its military and police to dismantle powerful gangs so that the people of Michoacán can breathe a sigh of relief.
Dear Peña Nieto, President of Mexico
Mexicans should not have to live under the rule of gangs that rob them of their earnings and subject them to gun violence, kidnappings, and murders. The duty of the state lies in making sure that the rule of law prevails and that the police and the army protect the citizens from criminals who loot their property and threaten their lives. While confronting gangs is an unsavory business that may implicate the army and the police in internal warfare, allowing the gangs to grow in power to the point where they take over provinces to turn the inhabitants into victims of arbitrary violence is simply unacceptable. It is the equivalent of abdicating responsibility and surrendering the country to the rule of warlords.
The ensuing chaos that forces otherwise peaceful merchants and agricultural workers to resort to forming militias for self-protection is a tragic state of affairs that would transform what could be a peaceful territory into a theater of war. Tolerating a situation characterized by shootouts between cartels and the residents that resist them will simply set in motion a cycle of violence that will leave a long trail of deaths in its wake. The Mexican army must take on the gangs and drive them out of of Michoacán to free its people from extortion, violence, and the need to form militias for self-protection.
[Your Name Here]
Photo credit: ROG5728 via Wikimedia Commons