Redlogarythm for BorderlandBeat

Disclaimer: the following article reflect just my personal opinion about a tactic, the designation of Mexican criminal organizations as Foreign Terrorist Organizations, a believe is wrong. Thus it is subjected to discussion and debate. Also remember English is not my mother tongue, so it is possible that the text contains grammatical errors.

In the wake of the Matamoros´ March 3rd events in which four American citizens were abducted by members of a Gulf Cartel faction and two of them killed, a strategy consisting in the designation of Mexican criminal organizations as Foreign Terrorist Organizations (FTOs) has arised in the political arena. 

Thus, a few days after the incident, Republican Senator for South Carolina Lindsey Graham started making public and notorious statements about the effectiveness that the use of military force would have in combating Mexican criminal organizations and for doing so he proposed to designate them as Foreign Terrorist Organizations (FTOs)

Since then, the plausability of a FTO designation being used for an eventual series of military strikes against Mexican criminal organizations has become a new gossip in the never-ending US political diatribe as well as a serious wound in the relations between the US-Mexican relations. Nevertheless, contrary to what many people would think the designation of Mexican criminal organizations as FTOs is nothing new; it was firstly suggested by former President Donald Trump in 2019 after the massacre of 9 members of the LeBaron family. After a few months of a public camapaign deployed by the Republican president calling for a total war against Mexican “cartels” that saw multiple “experts” and “journalists” preaching about the inability of the Mexican Government to restrain organized criminal activity both executives (Mexican and American) rapidly dropped the matter and the issue fell into oblivion.

This time, however, the plans to designate Mexican criminal organizations have gone beyond mere speculation. Sen. Lindsey Graham gave a press conference during which he labelled Mexico as a narcoestate and blamed it and its authorities for their inability to prevent the fentanyl epidemic that has reached an astonishing 80,000 related deaths during last year. In his speech, mister Graham stressed the necessity for the designation of Mexican criminal organizations as Foreign Terrorist Organizations (FTOs) since this would enable US authorities to use direct and lethal force in a series of strikes targeting specific  objetives such as drug laboratories and certain criminal leaders.

    In honor of the truth, one must admit that besides the appearance of formality that Mr. Graham and his personal clapper, Louisiana Senator John Kennedy, tried to maintain during their speeches the overall press conference gave the impression of a high-school teenage exhibition prepared the night before. At a given point in his intervention, Mr. Graham showed a graphic depicting nine Mexican criminal organizations labelling them as the most representative of those responsible for the fentanyl crisis. Unfortunately for Mr. Graham, he didn´t seem to have recalled that groups such as Los Zetas, the Gulf Cartel, the Juarez Cartel, the Tijuana Cartel or the Beltran Leyva Cartel are nothing more than defunct criminal entities that don´t exist anymore having been substituted long ago by a myriad of criminal cells that do not pay obedience to no major faction. 

Senator Lindsey Graham depicting a table with Mexico´s nine biggest criminal organizations. From all them only four can be labelled as operative

Previous examples of a haggard proposal    
    Mr. Graham seems to have followed the path of his co-religionists in the Republican Party, former veterans Dan Crenshaw and Mike Waltz, who back in January filed Joint Resolution 18 with the flambuoyant title of Authorization for Use of Military Force (AUMF) Cartel Influence Resolution for the Authorization for the Use of Military Force to Combat, Attack, Resist, Target, Eliminate, and Limit Influence Resolution.
In their AUMF Resolution, Crenshaw and Waltz propose that the President approves the use of military force (without mentioning the scope or reach of that eventual use of violence) against those who:

    But again, both legislators seem to have familiarized themselves with the Mexican panorama more through Discovery Max or the CoD franchise than through the use of reliable sources of information. Thus, their AUMF resolution is riddled with errors. In their first paragraph they refer to an incident in which a helicopter was gunned down by members of the Sinaloa cartel with high-powered weapons, and although the incident really happened it wasn´t the Sinaloa organization but members of the Cártel Jalisco Nueva Generación. 
    The AUMF Resolution comprises even a list of Mexican criminal organizations that should be specifically targeted that is suspiciously similar to the one showed by Lindsey Graham since it contains the same nine groups even in the same order:

Mexico as a Narco-State: a new Plan Colombia?

                During his last intervention, Mr. Lindsay Graham referred to Mexico as a  Narco-State in which organized crime had permeated all levels of political power.     There is definitely some point of truth in these words. Definitelty, certain areas of     the country have escaped to the control of Federal authorities. In the Frontera     Chica, in the Tierra Caliente, in the Golden Triangle or in Zacatecas, the presence  of the State has been replaced by criminal organizations that contrary to the  popular belief do not provide civilians with those resources that the State doesn´t  but extort it without providing too much in return.

At a certain point in his speech, Mr. Lindsay Graham pointed out the similarities between Mexico´s current situation and that of Colombia back in the early 2000s. Mexico -he said- could need what Colombia had back in its darkest days, when the US Clinton and Bush Administrations organized the so-called Plan Colombia, an enormous multidisciplinary foreign aid programm (it costed nearly 10,000 million dollars) through which the US tried to help the local Government to handle its civil conflict that saw an enormous Marxist-Leninist insurgent group, the FARC-EP, trying to overthrow the Bogotá regime through a prolonged fight conducted by its nearly 50,000 members from the jungles in the South, North and East.

Mr. Graham´s words are paradigmatic: “you know Plan Colombia was a good idea? To go to Colombia with military force to help the Colombian military to take down the cocaine narco-State that existed… And how can you object to do that in Mexico? So it is now for a Plan-Mexico. It is now time to get serious and use all the tools in the tool box. Not just in the prosecution line, not just in the law enforcement line, but in the military line as well”

Again, Mr. Graham forgets that what he is asking for was granted to Felipe Calderón´s Adminsitration by George W. Bush and Barack Obama through the Mérida Initiative, a multinational investment law-enforcement program that costed nearly 1,600 million dollars and saw not only the Pentagon, the CIA and the FBI (for naming a few entities) advising Mexican Armed Forces but the purchase of millions of dollars in military technology to be used by the Mexican anti drug czar to tackle Mexican organized crime.

Mexico´s man in charge of handling the resources arising from the Mérida Initiative, who´s role was sanctioned by American agencies, was declared guilty last month in a New York court for helping the Sinaloa Cartel in trafficking hundreds of tons of drugs for a nearly 20 year time span. His name was, and still is, Genaro García Luna, former head of the Federal police.

In conclussion, the designation of Mexican criminal organizations as Foreign Terrorist Organizations (FTOs) poses not as a secret remedy to halt the scourge that is bleeding out the border between the US and Mexico and the aztec country itself but rather a futile, senseless and politically-biased strategy aimed at posing transnational criminal organizations focused in the obtention of profits as what they are not: religious or political entities with the intention of seizing powers through the use of political violence.

In the words of President Trump´s former National Security Advisor and conservative hawk John Bolton : I think it fuzzes things up to label something as bad as the drug cartels a terrorist organization (…) They’re not like Hamas or Hezbollah. It’s a different threat; it’s a serious problem. As I say, I’m not underestimating it at all, but I think rhetorical gimmicks don’t help advance policy.