Mexico President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador is using the war on drugs to gain points with the Mexican population, vowing to go after judges who are directly linked to the country’s major drug cartels in order to fight corruption. But much like any other politician, Obrador isn’t clearly invested in actually cleaning up the country’s corruption. If he were, he wouldn’t be “going after” corrupt judges, he would be advocating for the end to the drug war — the U.S. one.
The announcement came after President Donald Trump’s administration put up sanctions against Isidro Avelar Gutierrez, a Mexican judge, for reportedly taking bribes from Jalisco New Generation Cartel and the Los Cuinis Drug Trafficking Organization, and after the U.S. accused Mexico of giving a safe environment for cartels.
In response, the country’s head of the finance ministry’s financial intelligence unit, Santiago Nieto, said that authorities are investigating other bribery cases, promising that the government is doing all in its power so that nobody was above the law.
“What I can say is that we are working in coordination with various institutions of the Mexican state in cases related to corruption in the judicial system,” said Nieto. “The Mexican financial system must not be used by criminal groups to launder money.”
Despite the Mexican government’s promises, it’s clear that no government can completely protect the system from corruption, after all, corruption is a natural consequence of bureaucracy. As a matter of fact, it is the very existence of government that provides the wealthy with incentives to seek political power, and it is the political elite that benefits the most from this relationship, while everyone else suffers the consequences.
Because drug cartels are few and powerful, they understand they have to pay to have access to power. Schemes such as the one allegedly involving Judge Gutierrez are the norm when interest groups seek special privilege, and most often than not, they are carried out in broad daylight and with the blessing of the public, disguised as lobbying campaigns with benevolent purposes.
If Obrador were truly concerned about how the world sees his country, and most importantly, how Mexicans are treated, he would continue to discuss putting an end to the war on drugs not only with his legislators but with Trump.
While he has taken a first step toward that end when he announced he wants to revise the U.S.-backed program known as Merida Initiative, which gives Mexico funds to fight the war on drugs, his plan to decriminalize all drugs in the coming years won’t completely eradicate the problem, as the United States continues to fight the drug war.
With America being Mexican cartels’ number one consumer, it would be hard to see an end to this war, unless both countries end the drug prohibition.
As Business Insider noted, “Mexico’s Supreme Court has already overturned the country’s ban on recreational marijuana, and possession of small amounts of most recreational drugs is already legal.” While calling for the decriminalization of all drugs will certainly help, Mexican cartels will continue to exist.
The only way to completely obliterate this beast is to end the American consumer’s reliance on it.