The first step in surviving terrorism is to identify the terrorists and the modus operandi that the group employs.
There’s been a lot of hype recently about Islamic factions in Mexico. In December 2012, presidential candidate Hillary Clinton was heard to say that “Iran exports Terrorism to Mexico.” And as she admits that the US created Al Qaeda and as she had a part in all that, she’d know all about Terrorism.
One of these groups that Mexico is reportedly hosting is Hezbollah. In 2010, the Tuscon Police Department reported the arrest of Jameel Nasar, a Hezbollah recruiter in Mexico and South America. The fact that the accused terrorist was arrested by the Tuscon Police caused panic in the US. It was believed that terrorists were crossing the border from Mexico with nefarious plans to cause mayhem in the US. But is that really the case?
Not really. Experts at Homeland security agree that there are more efficient ways to get into the US where you don’t have to violate the US law or cross a desert for that matter. It’s more likely they’d get their tourist visa and fly in. In one study, out of 94 arrests for illegal entry, only two had any affiliation with known terrorist groups and one of those two detained entered from Canada.
So, Islamic groups aside, is Mexico safe from terrorism? It does rank 44 out of 124 on the risk list. For comparison sake, it’s interesting to see that the US ranks higher as a risk zone coming in at 35.
So why is Mexico even on the list at all if there is no credible evidence that Islamic groups have a foothold here? Terrorism by definition is the “systematic use, as well as threatened use, of violence to intimidate a population and thereby effect political, religious or ideological change.” There are two distinct groups within Mexico are responsible for most of the terrorist attacks. The government and narcotraficantes (drug traffickers).
From 2006 to 2012, narcotraficantes have caused between 60,000 to 100,000 deaths in Mexico. Between 2007 and 2014, the Mexican government has been linked to 23,272 disappearances. As not all disappearances are reported because of the fear of repercussions, this number could be significantly higher. Mass graves throughout Mexico are the final resting place for the bodies of thousands of those who have disappeared. (See Hidden graves count: 1,143 in last 10 years Rights Commission also found that 57,861 people have been reported missing in 20 years)
In reality, these are not two separate terrorist groups, but two sides of the same coin. Without the narcotraficantes, Mexico would not be able to keep afloat financially. Drug trafficking is extremely profitable.
Ties between the political party of Mexico’s current president (PRI) and illegal drug traders can be traced to the beginning of the 20th century during the US period of Prohibition. The political, police and military infrastructure were subsequently designed to support the cultivation, manufacturing, and distribution of cocaine, heroin, and marijuana for export. The Dirección Federal de Seguridad (DFS) organization was formed to organize and control drug trafficking. So is there really any surprise that El Chapo was allowed to escape?
For decades, this system functioned without restriction. In the 1990’s PRI‘s 70-year reign ended. The addition of new political players with no prior connection with the cartels upset the system. Sections of the Mexican government began to challenge the set-up. Thus began the government sanctioned assassinations of drug-enforcement agents, governors, mayors, clergy, citizens, lawyers, judges, and journalists. And there we have narcoterrorism in a nutshell. While cartels battle over territories, dissenters are silenced by the government.
Partial List of Battle over cartel territories and state sanctioned massacres
between 2008 and 2015
Iguala Mass Kidnapping in 2014
So now that it’s been established who the terrorists are in Mexico and what their tactics are, it’s time to think about survival.
#1–Be aware of your surroundings. This will enable you to possibly identify a threat before it becomes active, locate exits and find cover.
In Mexico, it is now law to employ the use of deadly force in a protest situation. (See Ley de Atenco) Mexico has a history of staging public protests in order to garner attention for unjust laws and social reform. The results have often been bloody when government forces have stepped in.
With that in mind, ANY protest manifestation in Mexico becomes a potential terrorist situation. (See Nochixtlan massacre witnesses: Mexican police fired automatic weapons at demonstrators)
#2–Once you have identified a potential terrorist situation, flee. It’s the single most important thing you can do to survive.
So how does La Yacata become the place to be in the event of terrorist attacks? It’s not a central location, thus not a prime place for protest marches. You can wave your billboard all you want in La Yacata and no one cares. There isn’t anything of value to blow up or hold hostage by narcos or federales (federal police). It has a low population made up of poverty stricken people. You can’t get blood from a stone, so there’s little risk of extortion–another method often used by terrorists.
So when I am asked if I feel safe in Mexico, I can say that in spite of the experiences I have had so far in Mexico (See Safety and Security, Justice for all, Fighting for flowers) I can honestly say that I do.