The War Without a Name

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A Mexican drug gang recently left six severed heads on a car roof in order to intimidate rival dealers who might try to infringe on claimed turf in the southern Mexican town of Chilapa de Alvarez.

“In Chilapa selling crystal, kidnapping, extortion and stealing are strictly prohibited. This will happen to anyone who messes around,” read a sign the killers hung in a tree near the scene, reported Reuters. “Capital punishment is the sentence for all these crimes.”

Nearby, authorities recently discovered a clutch of hidden graves containing dozens of bodies as well as a secret camp where the severed heads of nine unlucky gangsters were found in a cooler. The hapless corpses likely belonged to the nearly 100,000 people who have disappeared in Mexico over the years as violence has worsened.

The situation is untenable. And as a result, criminal gang-related violence has displaced tens of thousands of Mexicans, wrote the Washington Post, where headline writers referred to the problem as “the war next door.” Homes riddled with bullets, drones and even land mines have become commonplace in this war.

Women have especially been affected, according to Aztec reports, a Colombia-based media startup. Amnesty International found last year that 10 women and girls are murdered on a daily basis in the Latin American country. The Guardian wrote about Mexican female filmmakers who were producing films that tackle the subject head-on in an attempt to jar their fellow citizens into stamping out the problem.

Tourists and foreigners aren’t immune to the bloodshed. Gunmen in rival drug cartels have opened fire on each other on the 81-mile-long Riviera Maya, including in Cancun and Tulum, the Wall Street Journal added. The homicide rate in the region is 37 killings per 100,000 residents or five times larger than the rate in the US.

These activities have spilled across the US border, where dangerous migration routes and immigration, in general, have become hot-button political topics. They have also fueled violence to the south in Colombia as Mexican gangs trade weapons for cocaine, Reuters noted.

President Andrés Manuel López Obrador, elected in 2018 and serving a six-year term, recently won a recall vote that he encouraged in order to cement his popular mandate, explained Al Jazeera. He has made little progress in tackling crime, however, said an analyst at the Brookings Institution. He recently closed an elite investigations unit that was cooperating with the US in combating the drug trade instead.

Historians will ask why more was not done. In the meantime, some civilians don’t have time to ask – they are too busy looking for sanctuary.

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