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Caribbean, Latin American & Latino Studies

Masters of Arts in Humanities in Caribbean and Latin/o American Studies (CLAS)
A Multi-Sited Pre-Professional Program in Advanced Studies and Research

“Autodefensas”: the Colombianization of Mexico?

Meanwhile we are keeping a close eye on the paramilitary groups in the state of Michoacan. Over the past year these militias have come to fill the power vacuum left by the national government as it retreats from vast zones under the pressure of the drug cartels or “narcos”. Who are these vigilantes? Are these, as they claim, a peasant self-defense force or are they doing the bidding of rival cartels and foreign governments? As Mexican cartels seize control of drug and money laundering operations from California to Argentina, Mexico seems to be transitioning from a nation-state into the first narco-state in history. Much is at stake for the country and for the entire hemisphere: the narco’s principal customers are US consumers of drugs but their principal trading partner is the People’s Republic of China. The Chinesse get iron ore in exchange for providing the narcos with the raw materials for the manufacture of synthetic drugs.

In the picture, a column of the paramilitary forces that have seized control of one third of the state of Michoacan. The rest of the state is mostly under the control of the cartel of the Knights Templar. The national army, sent to reestablish the rule of law, is mostly in the service of the drug lords, not the president of the country.

January 23, 2014