If the Mexican military is deeply corrupt and now effectively controls the national government under its incompetent President, we are in a new phase of our Latin American disaster.
Disclaimer: The views expressed in this article solely belong to the author and do not necessarily represent those of The Fresh Toast.
In 2018, the Mexican Supreme Court found the country’s marijuana laws unconstitutional and ordered Congress to draft new laws. Congress has had to request several extensions, but now it has failed to meet another deadline, just as it seemed close to agreement on new laws.
For Americans, this problem may seem familiar, but in Mexico, the stakes are much higher.
Of course, the pandemic has hit Mexico much harder than the U.S. At one point they reportedly ran out of death certificates. But in a country where thousands of people are killed every year in the Drug War, and thousands more simply disappear, it is just another tragedy.
While the Mexican government still controls the major cities, there are large areas where the gangs (not “cartels”) terrorize the people who are not allowed to own guns, which the gangs get from the U.S., financed by selling drugs, which are illegal.
Unfortunately, Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador (AMLO), has been a disaster. He is sort of a left-wing Trump. Latin America has a word for this: personalismo, but it is new to Mexico (and to the U.S., until recently). In post-Stalin Russia, it was called the Cult of Personality.
While AMLO campaigned against Mexico’s deeply embedded corruption, last year he ignored the pandemic to meet with the mother of El Chapo, the gangster now in a U.S. prison.
And while Mexico, unlike most of Latin America, has never had a military dictatorship, last year the government’s dependence on the military became embarrassingly obvious. Last October, the U.S. arrested former Mexican defense minister Salvador Cienfuegos at the Los Angeles airport. Because the U.S. does not trust the Mexican government, Washington did not notify Mexico City beforehand.
Mexico was “outraged”, supposedly because this somehow violated its sovereignty, etc, and demanded that the general be sent back to Mexico where he would be tried for corruption. The U.S. agreed, perhaps in a deal for Mexico to arrest a major gang leader.
However, when the general was safely back in Mexico, he was “exonerated” in January. The U.S. was not pleased, but this absurdity clearly demonstrated the power of the Mexican military.
Now AMLO faces another embarrassment.
Meanwhile in the “real world”, the pandemic continues, so the U.S. is sending vaccines to Mexico, the Republicans are denouncing President Joe Biden’s “border crisis” and demanding that VP Kamala Harris go to the border for a photo op with the “big, beautiful wall” that Trump repeatedly claimed Mexico would pay for. And Mexico is caught in the middle, but it is still struggling with the easiest part, legalizing marijuana.
As an old and largely unrepentant Drug Warrior, Biden cannot recognize the increasing damage being done to our increasingly vulnerable neighbors. Harris is going to Central America, even more vulnerable and corrupt than Mexico, but she cannot even mention the Drug War. If the Mexican military is deeply corrupt and now effectively controls the national government under the incompetent AMLO, we are in a new phase of our Latin American disaster.
Richard Cowan is a former NORML National Director and author of Different CBD Extracts, What To Choose?